by Patrick Condon
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—A new TV ad from supporters of Minnesota’s constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage warns parents that if same-sex marriage were legalized, schools could teach their children about it even if parents object.
Minnesota for Marriage released the ad Thursday. A narrator says that if gay marriage becomes legal in Minnesota, that “schools could teach that boys can marry boys.” It cites as evidence the experience of a married couple in Massachusetts, where gay marriage became legal in 2004, who filed a federal lawsuit after their son was given a book in kindergarten that portrayed various types of families, including one with same-sex parents.
The boy’s father, David Parker, was later arrested for refusing to leave his son’s school after officials wouldn’t agree to notify him when homosexuality was discussed in his son’s class. The couple’s lawsuit failed, and they now live in New Hampshire and homeschool their two sons.
“Don’t make the same mistake and think gay marriage won’t affect you,” Tonia Parker says in the ad.
Gay marriage is already illegal in Minnesota, and will remain so no matter how the vote goes on the amendment. Passing the amendment would ban gay marriage in the state constitution. Defeating it would mean the state’s law against gay marriage would stay on the books unless and until it’s overturned either by the Legislature or through the courts.
Minnesota for Marriage says the possibility of the law being overturned is exactly why voters should pass the constitutional amendment.
But their chief rivals, Minnesotans United for All Families, said the new ad misleads voters about what’s actually at stake in the election.
“It’s clear that supporters of this amendment do not wish to debate the issue truly at hand: whether it should be illegal to marry the person you love, and whether we should use our state constitution to limit the freedom to marry,” said Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United.
“We know children learn their most important values at home—from their parents,” Carlbom added.
In multiple statewide campaigns in recent years, gay marriage opponents have argued that allowing marriage for same-sex couples can lead to children being taught values that go against their parents’ beliefs. Similar TV ads aired in California in 2008 before voters there backed a measure putting a same-sex marriage ban in the state constitution.
In 2011, the National Organization for Marriage cited the Parkers’ case in brochures that it distributed in Rhode Island—where the Legislature was considering a bill to legalize gay marriage. “Massachusetts’ public schools teach kids as young as kindergartners about gay marriage. Parents have no legal right to object!” the group wrote in a brochure.
The independent fact-checking group PolitiFact reported that year it could find no evidence that lessons about gay marriage were part of any Massachusetts curriculum for kindergarten.
The National Organization for Marriage is one of the major funders of Minnesota’s campaign for the gay marriage amendment.
Minnesota for Marriage campaign manager Frank Schubert said the group would spend about $750,000 to air the new ad statewide. It’s the group’s fourth TV ad. Minnesotans United has also aired four TV ads, all of which appeal to Minnesotans on the grounds of fairness.