Yvonne and Fred Peterson in Freedom to Marry ad
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The first television ad opposed to the Marriage Amendment features a Duluth couple who've been married for 59 years.
Yvonne and Fred Peterson appear in the 30-second spot, paid for by Freedom to Marry, a nonprofit based in Washington D.C. It will air on broadcast TV and cable in the Twin Cities and Duluth markets for the next six weeks.
"The world is changing," Fred Peterson says to the camera in the ad. "Gay and lesbian people want to get married for the same reason I married my wife. Why shouldn't other people be able to?"
It's the first of many commercials Minnesotans will see before voting on the amendment to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman. The Petersons have a grandson who is gay.
"They have a story that is a very similar to a lot of Minnesotans who at one time felt differently about this issue," said Kate Brickman of Minnesotans United for All Families, the group fighting the amendment statewide.
"Over time, as they've come to know people that they love who are gay and lesbian, they've really realized that their grandson wants to get married for the same reasons that they did."
Same-sex marriage has been banned in Minnesota since 1997, when the State Legislature passed the Defense of Marriage Act. It happened around the same time Congress passed a DOMA law nationally.
But proponents of the amendment say they're concerned state judges will declare that ban unconstitutional, or that a future legislature will legalize gay marriage. They argue that the ban in the Minnesota Constitution would eliminate those possibilities.
Chuck Darrell of Minnesotans for Marriage said his group is planning a major ad buy between now and the election. He said the ad featuring the Petersons is similar to what amendment opponents aired in 30 other states where voters passed similar amendments.
"We saw the ad. Marriage is not simply about recognizing the love and commitment between the two adults involved," Darrell told KARE. "Protecting the well-being of children is the primary reason why governments license and regulate marriage in the first place."
Pro-amendment ad campaigns in other states have stressed the well being of children, and the rhetoric here in Minnesota will follow that pattern.
"Marriage between a man an a woman promotes the well being of children by allowing them to benefit from being raised by both a mother and a father," Darrell asserted.
Opponents of the amendment are more likely to stress the universal value of long-term relationships in its media campaigns. But, when it comes to children, they argue heterosexual couples don't have a monopoly on providing nurturing environments.
"Whether you have two moms, or two dads, or a mom and a dad, as long as you have stable loving parents," Brickman told KARE. "That is actually when children do best and that is what they need."
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