Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Opponents to same-sex marriage roll out 'consequences' pitch

Opponents to same-sex marriage are airing a new television commercial that claims passing question 6 will generate intolerance for those who do not support gay marriage.

What the ads say: The commercial highlights four cases where penalties have been meted out for opposition — or perceived opposition — to same-sex marriage. "When marriage has been redefined elsewhere as Question 6 does, people who believe in traditional marriage have been punished," according to the commercial.

The spot focuses on Angela McCaskill, a Gallaudet University diversity officer who was suspended from her position this month after a colleague complained that she had signed the petition to put the law on the November ballot.

It also briefly references Chick-fil-a, the fast-food chain that became the subject to boycotts over the summer after the company's Chief Executive Officer said he supports "the biblical definition of the family unit;" Damien Goddard, a Canadian sportscaster who fired after tweeting about his opposition to same-sex marriage; and Jim and Mary O'Reilly, the proprietors of a Vermont Inn who were sued after refusing to allow a gay wedding at their hotel.

The facts: In Maryland, it is already against the law to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples. Businesses and hotels here must serve gay couples — the same way they must serve black or inter-racial couples.

So far the state anti-discrimination rules for sexual orientation have not caused major problems. The Maryland Commission on Civil Rights reported a four cases of gays filing "public accommodations" complaints against businesses for failing to serve based on sexual orientation since 2007.

In McCaskill's case, supporters of same-sex marriage, including Gov. Martin O'Malley, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Marylanders for Marriage Equality have said Gallaudet made the wrong decision and should re-instate her. "Her suspension form a D.C. university has nothing to do with Question," according to text from a full page ad the pro-gay marriage campaign bought in the Annapolis Capital this week.

Chick-fil-a has said they will no longer fund anti-same-sex marriage causes. The O'Reilly couple were sued under the Vermont Fair Housing and Public Accommodations Act, not the state's same-sex marriage law.

Analysis: The ad was designed by Frank Schubert, a political consultant from California who is heading the anti-same-sex marriage campaigns in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington state.

He calls this pitch the "consequences message" and it has proven persuasive in other states where it has been deployed including California in 2008 and Maine in 2009. Marriage supporters accuse him of finding a handful of examples and presenting them as the norm.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun