AD ARSENAL EXPANDS FOR REFERENDUM FOES
At left: A new television commercial run by Maine Won't Discriminate features the shattering of a stone with the word ''Discrimination.''
From Staff ReportsMaine Won't Discriminate added two television commercials to its advertising campaign this week, giving the gay-rights group a total of three commercials airing statewide.
©Copyright 1998 Guy Gannett Communications
The commercials are expected to give Maine Won't Discriminate a boost in its effort to persuade voters to reject a ballot question Tuesday that would repeal Maine's new gay-rights law.
The campaign to repeal the law has one television commercial, which is expected to start running Sunday. A copy of that commercial was not available for review by the Press Herald.
The campaign had wanted to advertise more, but did not raise enough money.
Maine Won't Discriminate has spent more than $140,000 on its television commercials. The ''vote-yes'' campaign expects to spend about $20,000 on television.
Maine Won't Discriminate's commercials all feature Gov. Angus King saying that he will vote against the referendum.
The group's first commercial began airing on Jan. 30. It is titled ''Neighbors'' and shows King talking about how gay people are our neighbors and deserve the same rights as everybody else.
The second is titled ''Chisel'' and focuses on how a ''no'' vote is a vote against discrimination. ''Chisel'' is analyzed in today's Ad Watch.
The third commercial is titled ''It's Real Jobs.'' It shows three gay people and claims they were either fired or threatened for being gay. Maine Won't Discriminate did not provide that tape for The Portland Newspapers to review.
to topAd Watch is examining the accuracy and effectiveness of television commercials on Tuesday's gay-rights referendum. In today's Ad Watch analysis, Staff Writer Peter Pochna looks at a commercial that began airing Wednesday urging voters to uphold the state's new gay-rights law.
BACKGROUND: Voters will be asked if they want to repeal the law that the Legislature passed last spring to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation with respect to jobs, housing, public accommodations and credit.
PRODUCER:Maine Won't Discriminate
DESCRIPTION:The commercial starts with a close-up of a chisel etching letters into stone. A deep male voice narrates, talking about the recent history in the fight for gay rights in Maine. Newspaper clippings flash on the screen: ''Maine Says No on 1,'' and ''House Approves Anti-Discrimination Bill.'' The scene switches to a close-up of Gov. Angus King, sitting in an armchair, saying that he will vote ''no.'' The scene then switches to a shot of a stone with the word ''Discrimination'' carved into it. The male voice urges a ''no'' vote. Then the stone drops to the ground and shatters.
SCRIPT:Male voice: ''They're at it again. Chiseling away at people's basic rights. In 1995 we said no to discrimination. And the Legislature even passed a law to prevent it. But they're back - trying to force their views and divide our community by putting discrimination into the law.''
King: ''I don't care who you are; discrimination hurts. This week we have a chance to do something about it in Maine. That's why I'm voting 'no.' ''
Male voice: ''Say no to discrimination. On February 10, vote 'no.' ''
Is the commercial accurate?Two claims in the ad would be disputed by the referendum's supporters. One is the claim that they are ''chiseling away at people's basic rights.'' The referendum's backers say that the gay-rights law gives gay people special rights.
The other is the statement that Maine ''said no to discrimination'' by rejecting Question 1 on the ballot in 1995. Specifically, the rejected proposal only would have prohibited communities from passing gay-rights ordinances.
When the ad states that the Legislature passed a law to prevent discrimination, it refers to the law passed last spring, which is the subject of Tuesday's vote.
Is the commercial effective?Yes. King is popular and a good person to have on your side in a statewide campaign. His support does not ensure success, however, as Maine voters proved last fall when they rejected a forest management plan that King vigorously advocated.
The ad also continues the ''vote no'' campaign's effort to focus the debate on the word discrimination, a word that has negative connotations for many people. Discrimination is mentioned four times in the ad and then appears chiseled into a stone that resembles a gravestone. The ''vote yes'' campaign has tried to steer the debate away from discrimination and toward the issue of whether a person's sexual orientation should give them protection under the law.
The Portland Press Herald Home Page
Letters to the Editor
The Maine GayNet Archive