- (Photo: AP / Charlie Neibergall)
The National Organization for Marriage, which helped the campaign to pass Proposition 8, on Thursday announced an initiative to recruit two million traditional marriage activists across the country.
The goal of the campaign is to "form an online army of marriage activists willing to stand up for marriage on a moment's notice, sending emails and making phone calls to legislators whenever marriage is threatened," NOM stated in a e-mail to supporters.
Over the next two years, the group is aiming to rally two million marriage activists representing every state but is hopeful that "word-of-mouth" recommendations will help achieve that figure by the end of 2010.
To jumpstart the "2 Million for Marriage" (2M4M) initiative, NOM on Thursday also launched a nationwide TV ad campaign "highlighting the threat that same-sex marriage poses to the core civil rights of all Americans who believe in marriage as the union of a husband and wife."
The TV ad, "Gathering Storm," argues that issue of same-sex marriage will, contrary to what gay rights advocates have claimed, affect the lives of everyday people.
"Some who advocate for same-sex marriage have taken the issue have taken it far beyond same-sex couples," says an actor in the ad, standing amid a stormy backdrop. Other actors representing everyday people chime in, saying, "They want to bring the issue into my life...my freedom will be taken away."
Although the ad only features actors, some make statements in the ad that are based on real stories of people affected by gay marriage.
"I'm a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job...I'm part of a New Jersey church group punished by the government because we can't support same-sex marriage...I am a Massachusetts parent helplessly watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is OK."
"But some who advocate for same-sex marriage have not been content with same-sex couples living as they wish…They want to change the way I live," the ad states. The clip ends with the message "Join us."
The one-minute ad will initially be shown in New Jersey and Rhode Island outlets and then eventually will receive $1.5 million in airtime nationwide.
NOM president Maggie Gallagher discussed the ad's message in an appearance Wednesday on MSNBC's "Hardball."
"Marriage isn't a private act - It's a public status. And when your government tells you that same-sex unions are marriages, it's going to affect a lot of people besides the couple who wants to do it," said Gallagher.
"So public schools, when they teach about marriage, they are going to teach your children and grandchildren that your views are discarded relics of age and bigotry. And professionals from faith traditions that just don't recognize same-sex unions as marriages and organizations are going to find their liberties curtailed," she argued.
Joe Solmonese, president of the pro-gay rights Human Rights Council, who appeared opposite of Gallagher on the show, rejected her claims as "lies."
"What they are essentially implying this campaign is that somehow other people are becoming the victims," he said. "The fact of the matter is that not one thing that they say in this ad is true."
Gallagher pressed Solmonese on whether religious liberties will be protected in the wake of gay marriage decisions. She asked whether Catholic charities that run adoption agencies would have the right to deny adoptions to same-sex couples or whether a Methodist camp group would receive its tax exemption back after it declined to allow its pavilion be used for a civil union ceremony.
"When religious organizations step into the public sphere, it should not be surprising to people that they are bound to adhere to the laws in the states they are operating in," replied Solmonese.
After overlapping talking from both sides, show host Chris Matthews asked Gallagher to explain why the ads from NOM would tell him that his marriage is being threatened because of what same-sex couples do.
"The reality is that the meaning of marriage will change for everyone," said Gallagher.
"Marriage is the only institution we have that is about bringing together the great halves of humanity, male and female, so that children can know and be known by, and love and be loved by their own mother and father," she explained. "If the government moves to same-sex marriage and if the law teaches the next generation that there isn't anything unique about unions of husbands and wives, a lot of things are going to change for a lot of children."
NOM said it will use old and new approaches to promote the new initiative. In addition to hiring Schubert Flint Public Affair, which ran the Yes on 8 campaign last year, NOM plans to take a cue from President Obama's Election campaign and tap into internet technology and social networking tools like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to recruit activists for its 2M4M initiative.
Last month, NOM ran radio spots opposing same-sex marriage legislation in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.