Advocacy Group Launches Ad Contest to Promote 'Equal Marriage'

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:21 PM EDT

( - A homosexual advocacy group is sponsoring an "I Do" advertising contest, urging website visitors to submit and then vote on 30-second ads designed to "promote marriage equally."

"Our goal is to tell stories that will change the hearts and minds of Americans who are not yet convinced that marriage rights are a simple matter of equality," said Joan Garry, executive director of The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

"This campaign taps into the deep level of frustration and anxiety in this country around the ongoing erosion of our civil rights. We cannot allow the Federal Marriage Amendment to slip under the radar and go un-debated," Garry said, adding that the media "have a responsibility to cover this civil rights story."

GLAAD's ad contest is modeled after the anti-Bush contest sponsored by the liberal advocacy group last year.

In November 2003, described its ad contest as part of its "ongoing campaign to use television and print get the message out of Washington, D.C. and into battleground states, exposing the failures of the Bush administration at home and in Iraq."

The ad contest generated controversy, after one of the ads submitted by a member of the general public compared President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler. was roundly criticized for allowed the ad to be posted on its website. The group pulled the ad, saying it was one of many submitted and did not reflect's views, but Republicans and Jewish groups said the damage had been done.

'30 compelling seconds'

In a press release, GLAAD said filmmakers interested in its contest are encouraged to submit ads that speak to a mainstream audience.

"If you can translate your passion for fairness and equal protection for same-sex couples into 30 compelling seconds that counter the negative, discriminatory and fear-mongering tactics of the religious right, then we want to hear from you," Garry said.

GLAAD said the ads will be judged according to overall impact, originality, memorable content and delivery and clarity of the message. GLAAD said it will air the winning spot in key markets, "where anti-gay legislation is under consideration in state or local governments." The ads will run over the summer and through the year, the group said.

The deadline for ad submissions is June 1, 2004 and the winning ad will be announced on July 12, 2004.

A panel of celebrity judges will choose the winning spot from a group of finalists selected by GLAAD.

Ad contest judges include producer Craig Zadan ("Chicago"), director Jane Anderson ("Normal"), writer/director Kevin Williamson ("Scream"), actor Judith Light, director Paris Barclay ("The West Wing"), producer Bruce Cohen ("American Beauty") and writer/actor Heather Juergensen ("Kissing Jessica Stein").

GLAAD also has produced a public service announcement, starring actress Susan Sarandon, that "conveys a message about the universality of love and ends with the tagline 'Love is love is love.'" GLAAD said it also plans to distribute an additional PSA featuring "All My Children" soap opera star William Christian.

"The 'I Do' campaign is a natural extension of our media advocacy work," said John Sonego, director of programs and communications for GLAAD. He said there is "tremendous desire" within the LGBT community to act against "the effort to constitutionalize discrimination" against homosexuals.

GLAAD's website says it is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

See Earlier Story:
Contest: Bash Bush in Thirty Seconds (19 Nov. 2003)

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