South Georgia will get the state's first-ever TV ad supporting gay marriage, ahead of metro Atlanta and North Georgia, where a second ad about marriage equality was rejected and won't be seen.
On Monday, Georgia Equality debuted a 30-second spot to air during a $25,000 ad campaign in Augusta and Savannah. (Watch below) It features LGBT couples advocating for gay marriage, along with endorsements from Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Bishop Keith Whitmore, Coke and Delta.
A transcript of the ad:
Today, it’s still illegal for gay and lesbian Georgians to marry the person they love.
That means couples like these are denied a basic freedom.
And that our neighbors and friends are denied the legal protections that only marriage provides.
That’s why political leaders, religious leaders, businesses, and people from across Georgia Want the Supreme Court to affirm a Constitutional right to marry.
It’s time for every Georgian to have the freedom to marry the person they love.
The ad debuted in Augusta and Savannah to raise awareness of marriage equality in smaller markets outside metro Atlanta, Georgia Equality's Jeff Graham told the AJC, which first reported the commercial on Friday:
We’ve chosen to run the ads initially in the Augusta and Savannah markets because there are large LGBT communities in both of those areas, yet this is an issue that has not had the same level of public interest and discourse as we’ve experienced in the metro Atlanta area. …
“[N]ot only is this the first commercial that I’m aware of to air in Georgia on the topic of marriage equality. It’s also the first time our organization has bought commercial time in any television market and is probably the first time any LGBT organization has done anything more than an in-kind PSA here in Georgia.”
Lowery backs marriage equality, even if the gays "befuddle" him.
But in North Georgia, the story of Jesse Ehrenfeld (photo), a gay physician, Republican and soldier, won't be seen. Chattanooga-based WRCB refused to air that 30-second spot featuring Ehrenfeld discussing his desire to marry boyfriend Judd Taback. (Watch below) Freedom to Marry, which created the ad, said it has aired in other markets, including Nashville and Memphis. But the NBC affiliate, which also broadcasts in parts of Georgia and North Carolina, said no.
“It’s just a very controversial and personal issue, and we just choose to not air a commercial on either side of that debate,” Tom Tolar, the president and general manager of Chattanooga-based WRCB, told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview.
Both Georgia and Tennessee ban gay marriage. Both laws have been challenged in federal lawsuits, and Tennessee is one of four states involved in one of the cases that the Supreme Court is expected to decide this month.
And if the court legalizes gay marriage, LGBT groups including Georgia Equality and Freedom to Marry, want the state ready to get its slice of a $78 million gay marriage boost. The state's probate judges are standing by. In 2014, the two groups helped launch Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, a grassroots group to help bring gay marriage to Georgia and other Southern states.
The TV ads are a first, though Georgia Equality has crafted gay marriage promotions in the past. "Summer For Marriage" debuted in 2010 as California's gay marriage ban, Proposition 8, was thrown out and anti-gay marriage advocates came to Atlanta. (Their rally flopped.)
The effort featured high-profile LGBT Atlanta couples – including 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; state Rep. Simone Bell and Valerie Acree – discussing their relationships with a message that Graham and Georgia Equality hoped would resonated with straight progressives.
In 2005, Lamar Advertising rejected a billboard campaign from Georgia Equality, which hoped to expand an ad campaign to South Georgia. The billboards – which included images of professionals including a firefighter and doctor, included the tagline "I protect you. And ... I am gay. We Are Your Neighbors" – did appear in eight metro Atlanta counties.
[photo via Buzzfeed courtesy Jesse Ehrenfeld]