Prop 8 Ad Wars: The Counterattack

Categories: Politics

(Click here to see the ad.)

By Ashley Harrell

Yes on 8 posted its first campaign ad today, predictably infuriating the opponents and stooping to expected lows in attempts to further mislead already ignorant people.

The ad begins with a clip of a decidedly lupine and slick-haired Gavin Newsom informing California voters they will have to accept gay marriage, “whether you like it or not” (props for that part, it’s actually pretty disturbing). Then it unleashes Pepperdine University School of Law professor Richard Peterson, who makes a complete ass of himself and the school. (Here’s some damage control from the University PR director Jerry Derloshon, who said in his 10 years at the university, he can’t recall another Pepperdine professor lending expert opinions to a campaign ad: “The ad is not that of a Pepperdine University endorsed position,” he said. “Pepperdine does not advocate for or against political candidates or ballot propositions.”)

Peterson floats onto the screen to introduce three changes that purportedly follow the acceptance of gay marriage: people being sued over personal beliefs, churches losing tax exemption, and gay marriage taught in public schools. All three come with an airborne visual aid seemingly meant to demonstrate the point. Let’s analyze these one by one.

To exemplify people being sued over personal beliefs, a copy of the decision from North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group v. San Diego flies to the screen and sticks there. But if you actually read that case on-line, you’ll see it has absolutely nothing to do with gay marriage. Instead, it’s a case involving doctors who refused an intrauterine insemination to a lesbian, which the Supreme Court of California found to be discrimination based on sexual orientation. That’s expressly prohibited by California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act and has been since 2005. Next?

As for churches losing their tax exemption, our visual aid is a headline from Gay and Lesbian Times on July 2, 2007 – “Anti-gay clergy should fear backlash.” The commentary (it’s not even a news story) merely points out that when the primary function of a church is as a campaign headquarters rather than a house of worship, that church should fear losing its tax-exempt status. There’s nothing here that remotely relates to gay marriage, except that it’s one of the issues that might compel a church to get politically involved. So, essentially Peterson is blaming the acceptance gay marriage for forcing churches to get political and risk losing their tax-exempt status. Similar logic: “The devil made us do it.”

Finally, Peterson tells us that gay marriage may be taught in public schools while a manila folder with words “Parker V. Hurley” flashes across the screen. The Massachusetts case involved a number of parents who objected to their children being exposed to “a pro-homosexual curriculum” and the federal district court ruled against them in 2007. At that time, gay marriage wasn’t legal in California, and Prop 8 wasn’t a glint in anyone’s eye. Hmm.

“This spot is full of lies, lies and more lies," said Steve Smith, senior strategist for the NO on Prop 8 campaign.

I can just hear conversations in the pews next Sunday: “Did you know that if Prop 8 fails, anyone who voted for it will be sued, churches will all go under, and gay marriage will become a mandatory class in elementary school?” All the church ladies will nod and say, “It’s outrageous!”

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