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National Organization for Marriage spent $709,000 on Minnesota ads in 2010

Image has not been found. URL: http://images.americanindependent.com/2010/08/DollarBillsThumb1.jpgFindings by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board show that the National Organization for Marriage spent $709,000 on radio and television ads during the gubernatorial campaign in 2010. Those ads targeted DFLer Mark Dayton and Independence Party candidate Tom Horner for their support for marriage equality and lent support for the campaign of Republican Tom Emmer who supported a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.

The ads, paid for by the New Jersey-based NOM were created by the California-based Schubert Flint Public Affairs.

The ads were the subject of a campaign finance complaint that was dismissed Wednesday by the public disclosure board. The decision by the board provides some insight into the ad campaigns and how much was spent.

The first ad, “Your Right to Vote,” his television airwaves from May 18 to May 26 and cost $212,716:

A radio ad called “Who Should Decide?” ran from Aug. 12 to Aug. 20 at a cost of $96,050:

“The Most Important Civil Right,” aired on Minnesota television stations from Sept. 20 to Oct. 24 at a cost of $333,155:

Just before the election, from Oct. 13 to Oct. 24, the radio ad “The Most Important Civil Right” ran for a cost of $62,549:

The group also spent $4,700 in literature at the Minnesota State Fair.

According to the board’s findings, NOM paid Schubert Flint Public Affairs to create the ad campaigns. Schubert Flint was also behind the campaign in California to pass Prop 8, which halted marriage equality in 2008. Same-sex couples were granted the right to marry in that state in early 2008.

Frank Schubert and Jeff Flint discussed their strategy in a February 2009 interview with Campaigns and Elections magazine and in that interview the two laid out the strategy they used to win on Prop 8, including strategies the Minnesota Family Council has recently utilized to pass a similar amendment in Minnesota.

“We built a campaign volunteer structure around both time-honored campaign grassroots tactics of organizing in churches, with a ground-up structure of church captains, precinct captains, zip code supervisors and area directors; and the latest Internet and web-based grassroots tools,” the duo wrote.

As the Minnesota Independent reported last week, the Minnesota Family Council is organizing pastors, in particular, “church captains.”

Schubert and Flint also said they came up with messages that would “result in voters casting a Yes vote for traditional marriage.” That strategy is to assign “consequences” to the legalization of same-sex marriage.

We strongly believed that a campaign in favor of traditional marriage would not be enough to prevail. We needed to convince voters that gay marriage was not simply ‘live and let live’—that there would be consequences if gay marriage were to be permanently legalized. But how to raise consequences when gay marriage was so recently legalized and not yet taken hold? We made one of the key strategic decisions in the campaign, to apply the principles of running a “No” campaign—raising doubts and pointing to potential problems—in seeking a “Yes” vote. As far as we know, this strategic approach has never before been used by a Yes campaign. We reconfirmed in our early focus groups our own views that Californians had a tolerant opinion of gays. But there were limits to the degree of tolerance that Californians would afford the gay community. They would entertain allowing gay marriage, but not if doing so had significant implications for the rest of society.

We probed long and hard in countless focus groups and surveys to explore reactions to a variety of consequences our issue experts identified. The California Supreme Court ruling put gay couples in a protected legal class on the basis of sexual orientation, and then found that gay couples had a fundamental constitutional right to marriage. This decision significantly changed the legal landscape. No longer would it be enough for Californians to tolerate gay relationships, they would have to accept gay marriage as being equivalent to traditional marriage. Tolerance is one thing; forced acceptance of something you personally oppose is a very different matter.

Whenever a conflict occurred between the rights of a gay couple and other rights, the rights of the gay couple would prevail because of their “protected class” legal status. We settled on three broad areas where this conflict of rights was most likely to occur: in the area of religious freedom, in the area of individual freedom of expression, and in how this new “fundamental right” would be inculcated in young children through the public schools. And we made sure that we had very concrete examples we could share with voters of things that had actually occurred.

The firm noted that widespread dissemination of campaign literature helped persuade voters who might be uncomfortable voting against their neighbors rights.

“This intense commitment to distributing materials throughout the state was the result of another key strategic decision. Supporting traditional marriage is not considered to be ‘politically correct.’” Schubert and Flint said. “We wanted voters who supported our position to know that they were not alone and so we made sure they saw our signs in their neighborhoods and our campaign materials at their church. And if they were part of an ethnic minority, all these were in their native language.”

The campaign then pivoted to television ads that made the threat that homosexuality would be taught in the schools if Prop 8 did not pass. Here’s two examples of the ads used by Schubert Flint in California:

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