The New Yorker decided to celebrate gay marriage’s (limited) Supreme Court victory with a cover illustrating its signature brand of humor—the kind that inspires quiet chuckles from its readers and confuses or frustrates everyone else.
Everyone’s joked about Bert and Ernie’s “domestic partnership” for some time (along with the fact that Bert is the biggest bad guy since the Wicked Witch), but as a preview of this week’s cover made its way around the blogosphere, quite a few media observers asked “why?”—and a surprising number of people beyond the usual crowd took offense.
We can all agree on one thing: today’s Supreme Court decision invalidating the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act was, is, and will continue to be a big deal. It’s not that the justices’ conclusions were a big surprise as most observers did not expect them to uphold existing gay marriage bans on the state or federal level. But it still inspired strong emotions for many Americans.
Of course, politicians of all stripes were quick to offer their takes on the issue.
The great Morgan Freeman, an Oscar-winning vet who’s played everyone from Nelson Mandela to The Almighty Himself (though sadly not in the same movie), has what we’d call a very recognizable voice. He’s used his soothing baritone to introduce CBS News, narrate March of the Penguins, promote the 2012 London Olympics, and even endorse political candidates like our current President.
Today, Freeman moves boldly into the social advocacy sphere, applying his signature cadence to a brief TV spot titled “Dawn of a New Day for Marriage Equality”. The purpose of the commercial, produced by the non-profit Human Rights Campaign, is to celebrate the movement’s election day victories (in which gay marriage won popular approval in three states for the first time in this country) while simultaneously preparing allies for the legal and political struggles that still lie ahead.
One could spend hours parsing the messages of this ad, and we’re sure someone will question the clear link drawn between the Civil Rights Movement and the current push for marriage equality (because someone always has to do that). Still, we find it to be a fairly compelling piece of political PR; Mr. Freeman certainly makes the HRC’s case feel more…epic than a man with less powerful vocal chords possibly could.
What do we think of this spot? What influence do Freeman’s voice and celebrity status have on the power of the underlying campaign?
Wherever you may stand on gay marriage and other issues facing the LBGT community, we think you’ll agree that this week’s election was a big win for the gay rights movement; the country at large appears to be moving toward a new era in LGBT relations. But do these results reflect a future in which the public will be more receptive to gay-themed PR campaigns?
Election 2012 included several significant gay rights gains: Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay American Senator, California’s Mark Takano became the first openly gay person of color to serve in congress, Iowa voters chose to retain the judge who cast the deciding vote in approving gay marriage and, most importantly, voters in four states chose to either legalize gay marriage or reject constitutional amendments forbidding it.
It was a proud, hard-earned moment for millions of gay Americans–but how will it affect the LGBT PR industry and related campaigns?
Quite a few existing firms explicitly cater to gay audiences–and we’ve witnessed an increase in the use of obviously gay figures in advertising and PR campaigns. Here, for example, is a recent groundbreaking ad created by Brand USA to promote United States tourism to overseas audiences that features a gay couple: