Former First Lady Laura Bush has asked to be removed from a national television ad promoting same-sex marriage. The ad was part of a $1 million print and broadcast campaign by the Respect for Marriage Coalition, an effort of the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign.
In addition to Mrs. Bush, the ad features appearances by President Obama, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. The gay marriage group said that television spots were scheduled to begin running February 24 on the Sunday network news talk shows, with print ads slated for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers.
“Against the backdrop of President Obama's historic comments about marriage rights in his inaugural address, freedom to marry legislation pending in a number of states, and two landmark marriage cases before the U.S. Supreme Court,” explained the group in a statement, “the Coalition is working to grow support for marriage rights for same-sex couples across the nation.”
The specific broadcast ad in which the national figures appear does not include sit-down interviews, but features clips culled from news shows, speeches, and other media appearances. For example, Obama is shown declaring during his recent inaugural address: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.”
Cheney is shown saying that “none of us would want to be told we can’t marry the person we love. That’s why a growing majority of Americans believe it’s time to allow marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Freedom means freedom for everyone.” And Powell declares that normalizing same-sex marriage “is the way we should be moving in this country.”
In the 2009 National Press Club speech from which Cheney's statement was culled, the former vice president clarified that he only supports the legalization of same-sex marriage at the state level. “The question of whether or not there should be a federal statute on this,” he emphasized, “I don't support.... This is a state issue, and I think that's how it should be handled today.”
While none of the other co-opted spokespersons complained about their inclusion in the ad, Laura Bush was unhappy that the same-sex marriage group had used the following statement she made during a 2010 interview with CNN's Larry King: “When couples are committed to each other and love each other, then they ought to have the same sort of rights that everyone has.”
Anne MacDonald, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Bush, said in a statement that the former first lady “did not approve of her inclusion in this advertisement, nor is she associated in any way with the group that made the ad. When she became aware of the advertisement [February 19], we requested that the group remove her from it.”
The same-sex marriage group responded by confirming that it would update the ad, saying it appreciated Mrs. Bush's previous comments in favor of its version of marriage, and was “sorry she didn't want to be included in an ad.” The group said it would “move to new and different voices that reflect the depth and breadth of our support.”
Former President Bush opposed same-sex marriage, endorsing a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. “The union of a man and a woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith,” Mr. Bush said said in 2004. “Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious, and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society.
His wife famously opposed him on the issue, noting later in her book, Spoken From the Heart, that during the 2004 presidential campaign she asked him not to make same-sex marriage an issue.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to deal with two key same-sex marriage cases over the next several months: California's Proposition 8 constitutional amendment, which defines marriage in the state as only between a man and a woman; and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law in 1996 by President Bill Clinton.
The White House announced that it is considering the possibility of President Obama's intervention in the Prop. 8 case in an effort to pressure the High Court into overturning the amendment, which was passed on a ballot by California voters.
Photo of Laura Bush: AP Images