imageWith gay marriage as the topic du jour in Georgia again, thanks to a California judge and a New Jersey-based anti-gay group, the state’s gay lobby group hopes a new video campaign will boost efforts to educate the public about same-sex marriage.

Georgia Equality launched the campaign of six videos last week to combat the anti-marriage equality rhetoric of the National Organization of Marriage, the New Jersey-based group that brought its Summer for Marriage Tour to Atlanta on Aug. 7 only to be outnumbered by more than 300 LGBT counter-demonstrators.

“We need to talk about marriage equality in the straight community,” says Jeff Graham (photo), Georgia Equality’s executive director. “We need to have messages and conversations that can target those people who are not necessarily anti-gay but they just don’t understand the issues around marriage equality.”

So Georgia Equality worked with videotographer Cindy Abel, a former Georgia Equality executive director, to identify people for the series. The project looked for high-profile LGBT people who could also speak to a larger audience, Graham says.

“We wanted folks that people have read about and continue to read about in mainstream publications and see occasionally on TV that have the respect of the community and use this theme that, ‘We trust them to make decisions; why don’t we trust them to make one of the most private decisions imaginable, and that is choosing who they wish to marry,’” Graham says.

The video campaign includes former Atlanta City Council President Cathy Woolard and Karen Geney; Atlanta City Council member Alex Wan and Joe Bechely; Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials Director Jerry Gonzalez and Dr. Ray Deeb; Lutheran Pastors Rev. Bradley Schmeling and Rev. Darin Easler; former Magistrate Judge Dan Bloom and Barry Golivesky; and state Rep. Simone Bell and Valerie Acree.

“We really are starting with reaching out within the LGBT community to give people some pointers on how to talk about marriage equality, some tangible tools and resources that they can share with other people in their lives,” Graham says.

But with both candidates for governor – Nathan Deal and Roy Barnes – firmly against same-sex marriage, Graham acknowledges that the issue of repealing Georgia’s constitutional ban on gay marriage won’t be front and center anytime soon. That’s the point of the video campaign – to start the conversations now, he says.

“It’s not a legislative issue for us to work on here in Georgia right now. What we can be doing as an organization and as all people in the LGBT community is to be talking to our friends, our family members, our coworkers, people in the community at large so that they get to know a little more about our families, our relationships and why marriage equality is so important. That shifts the political environment and makes it more accepting,” Graham says.

“If there are more court decisions, the videos will help people be able to respond back to them. This is the first of what we hope will turn into an ongoing campaign to educate folks on marriage equality,” he adds.