Gay Marriage TV Ad: Odd Bedfellows

Photograph by Jin Lee/Bloomberg

Same-sex couples emerge from the Manhattan City Clerk’s office with their marriage licenses in New York.

Gay-marriage backers today began a $1 million national television and print advertising campaign that features big-name Republicans and Democrats exhibiting a rare bit of simpatico.

President Barack Obama, former First Lady Laura Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Colin Powell all voice support for the issue in clips assembled for a 30-second TV spot. The ad will run on cable and during Sunday network TV shows, according to the group behind the campaign, the  Respect for Marriage Coalition.

“Freedom means freedom for everyone,” Cheney is shown saying in the ad, his remarks lifted from his June 2009 appearance at the National Press Club in Washington.

A moment later, Obama joins him in making the case.

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” the president says, in an excerpt from his inaugural address last month.

The ad campaign comes on the heels of state-level victories extending marriage rights to same-sex couples — and as several more states and the U.S. Supreme Court are about to take up the issue.

A consortium of 80 groups including civil rights, faith and gay rights leaders is paying for the advertising. The goal of the campaign, which also includes a social-media tag — #time4marriage — is to keep building momentum, according to Respect for Marriage’s news release.

In November, gay marriage scored its first wins at the ballot box. Maine, Maryland and Washington passed laws allowing same-sex couples to wed, while voters in Minnesota rejected a measure that would have banned the unions.

State legislatures in Illinois and Rhode Island are weighing marriage proposals this year. And the Supreme Court next month will hear arguments on California’s ballot measure banning same-sex marriage and on a federal law defining marriage as solely an opposite-sex union.

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