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To know us is to-- find us controversial?!

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 19-48Back in December we told you about "Get To Know Us First," an ad campaign designed to show America that gay and lesbian families are just like others, and that those families deserve the exact same protections. But now it's our duty to bring you this sad irony:

Los Angeles Affiliate KABC-TV Refuses to Air Ad With Gay Families During Inauguration: 'Too Controversial, Families Will Be Watching.'
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Non-profit organization GetToKnowUsFirst.org produced five 30-second commercials featuring gay and lesbian families, with the message "Marriage promotes families. Support marriage equality." The ads, while not tied to any current election, are the result of California's passage of Proposition 8 in November. The group aired the spots in 42 of the states' 58 counties -- everywhere the initiative passed by 50% or more -- during Tuesday's coverage of the Presidential Inauguration. KABC is the only station that refused to sell the ad space.

The rejected ad profiles two African American men raising five children ages 6 through 25. Ironically, the family lives in Los Angeles.

The media buy was attempted by the organization's ad agency, New and Improved Media. Its CEO, Keith Fisher, was surprised that KABC rejected the group's money. Fisher said, "We usually only see this with risque content, as in a trailer for a movie." He added, "If KABC thinks they have to protect the public from this family, something's obviously very wrong over there."

Chris Yokogawa, the ad agency's media buyer, worked with the station, attempting to ease any concerns they might have. He said, "We went back and forth a couple of times. I explained that this family is far from controversial. They were firm in their rejection. They said it was too controversial to air during the Inauguration, since 'many families will be watching.'"

The ad aired across California on Tuesday -- before, during and after the Presidential Inauguration on Good Morning America, The Today Show, Despierta America (Univision) and Levantate (Telemundo) broadcasts, as well as on a wide range of regional news stations, CNN and FoxNews during evening coverage of the day's events.

Project Coordinator John Ireland expressed astonishment at KABC's rejection. He said, "This ad is about families. I challenge anyone to watch the commercials at www.GetToKnowUsFirst.org and articulate what is inappropriate about airing it at any time of day."

One week prior, at attorney Gloria Allred's urging, Rev. Rick Warren indicated he would be willing to show the ads to his congregation at Saddleback Church in Orange County. Days before the Presidential Inauguration, he changed his mind, dropping the offer.

Los Angeles Affiliate KABC-TV Refuses to Air Ad With Gay Families During Inauguration: 'Too Controversial, Families Will Be Watching.' [PR Newswire]

So essentially, if the press release is factual, a campaign that's designed to cut through false stereotypes is being subjected to the pervasive false stereotype that says our families are "controversial." It would be kind of like KABC deciding to preempt "Ugly Betty," a show all about cutting through unrealistic portrayals of beauty, out of fear that their viewers won't except a curvy and real lead character. The antidote is being denied because the poison has too fully permeated public perception!

But don't take our word for it. Go check out the "controversial" ads for yourself, and see if you think there's even an ounce of justification in KABC's (not to mention Rick Warren's) decision:

Frightened yet?

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Your thoughts

These are the ads that should have been aired during election - instead of the ads that were shown which only help feed the "pro-family" idea of the secretive "Homosexual Agenda".

Posted by: Alonzo | Jan 21, 2009 2:08:56 PM

Oh, good grief. I guess some people find it easier to live with their own bigotry by pretending we don't exist.

Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jan 21, 2009 2:39:00 PM

With same sex marriage available from June 15th thru Nov 4th, what could be controversial about ads featuring gay families? What a crock.

Posted by: Bill Ware | Jan 21, 2009 3:03:02 PM

It's a little-known fact that broadcast licenses (also known as "licenses to print money") are awarded by the federal government on the condition that stations serve the public interest.

Usually this means some boring public affairs show that airs for free at 5 a.m. Sunday morning.

But Proposition 8 made gay and lesbian families in California unconstitutional, and the station has no business trying to suppress vital speech like this on the basis of "controversy." Sometimes controversy is in the public interest. Hell, it almost always is.

This could -- or at least *should* -- endanger KABC's broadcast license. I hope lawyers are looking at it right now...

Posted by: Mike | Jan 21, 2009 3:21:43 PM

"Families" don't include gay people, then?

Oh nooo, children might see gay people, and that's bad somehow! It's like the people who complained that the gay choir would damage children - it's not enough for them to say they want sexual acts out of the public eye, but they want gay people themselves to be wiped out (or, at least, to go elsewhere and not move amongst normal people like the folk at KABC)

Posted by: Celia | Jan 21, 2009 4:09:39 PM

I've seen the ads. They are wonderful. Has KABC seen the Obama family picture? I will email it to you JH, from a wonderful article about both his and Michelles family roots.

Hope GLAAD is really on this and using all negative power it has to smackface KABC...
Let's see wonder if Rachel M knows about this one? Or KO either one.

Posted by: LOrion | Jan 21, 2009 4:57:37 PM

Contact KABC


sample letter I wrote:

I am writing to express my disappointment over your station’s refusal to air the PSAs put on by Get to Know Us First. It is extremely saddening that a news outlet would deem images of happy and health y gay families as “too controversial.” You do a disservice to your viewers, both gay and straight, who have been denied the opportunity to learn about real gay families and the importance of marriage for all families. Your refusal to air these stories contributes to an atmosphere where stereotypes and lies about gay people and their families can be spread with impunity, ultimately costing gay families the rights, recognition and protection that all families deserve.

Posted by: Elizabeth | Jan 22, 2009 12:39:03 PM

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