Thingish Things

Hat’s Off to Gay Marriage Campaign

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Apr• 22•11

Marriage Equality Advocate Barbara Bush

Is anyone else watching with awe the masterful public relations campaign for gay marriage in New York unfold? It’s a real beaut, and communications students would be wise to study it.

Gay marriage looked dead in New York less than a year and a half ago. The bill faced resounding defeat, 24-38, in December 2009, after being rushed to the floor for a vote by a clumsy Democratic state senate majority and a teetering Governor David Paterson.  It was a disaster.  The general consensus after that vote was that it might take years for pro-gay marriage advocates to muster enough political will in Albany for another vote.  With New York in fiscal chaos, the gay marriage issue would have to take a back seat.

But then five or six months ago, New Yorkers for Marriage Equality began rolling out  plainly written – non-confrontational – face-to-camera web videos featuring people like Sam Waterston, Mario Batali, Lucy Liu, Bill Bratton, Russell Simmons, Joan Rivers, Barbara Bush, Whoopi Goldberg, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, Fran Drescher, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Julianne Moore.

The mix of supporters was a brilliant blend.  All likable people, touching all necessary demographics.  But more importantly, the ads were not forced.  They were neither angry, nor in your face.  They just began laying out a background conversation, without riling up opposition.

At the same time, the organization has been quietly lobbying Governor Cuomo and legislators behind the scene, both Republican and Democratic, to ensure that there are enough votes for passage this time.  The bill will not be allowed to fail in a roll-call vote again.

Today it was announced that long-time Republican state senate communications director John McArdle – a pro among pros in Albany  – has been retained by the marriage equality coalition to help lock down votes and messaging in the now Republican senate.  It was the perfect hire.

The pieces of this puzzle look to be fitting together nicely. Whether you  agree with gay marriage or not – I do – you have to tip your cap to a campaign well run.  There is nothing clumsy about this one. Nothing at all.



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  1. Well-written and I agree!

  2. Your Friend says:

    You are spot on, this is a great campaign. And I’m really happy that you support the idea of gay marriage. It truly is the great social issue of our time. And isn’t fixing it a fine example of something that governemnt can do well?

  3. […] wrote some weeks ago about the masterful campaign being run by the pro-gay-marriage side.  Marriage equality advocates […]

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