TAMPA, Fla. – In a TV ad set to air in the Tampa area during the Republican National Convention next week, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders speaks out about his support for the freedom to marry and encourages others in his party to do the same.
“As a Republican, I believe in conservative values like responsibility and limited government,” Sanders says in the ad, titled “Family and Freedom,” a project of the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry.
Sanders, who is also a chair of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, became a prominent symbol of GOP support for marriage for same-sex couples in 2007, when he had a last-minute change of heart in favor of marriage instead of civil unions. The ad comes amid a firestorm of criticism on the party’s decision to take an anti-marriage stance in its platform, which is expected to be ratified at the conference next week. While much of the GOP leadership remains opposed to marriage for gays and lesbians, Sanders joins people like Dick Cheney, Laura Bush and Cindy McCain as prominent supporters.
“While the GOP’s official position on marriage equality is stale to most Americans, there is a growing movement within the party heading inexorably toward fairness,” said Chad Griffin, Human Rights Campaign president. “This ad is proof that we’re not willing to leave any group of Americans behind in the national conversation over treating gay and lesbian couples with dignity and respect.”
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, speaks about the issue.
“Republicans talk about values such as freedom, limited government, and personal responsibility, values that support the freedom to marry. Our ad showcases Republicans who are living up to the values they proclaim, pointing the way for the party to get with the majority of Americans and on the right side of history,” he said.
Momentum on marriage is steadily increasing among Americans, including those who identify as Republican. Indicators include polls showing that younger conservatives are increasingly for marriage, as highlighted by the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry campaign, and the fact that a large share of the money invested in state campaigns this year has come from businessmen who are Republicans or have long been associated with them. Additionally, respected conservative attorney Ted Olson, also featured in the ad, is one of the key lawyers litigating for the freedom to marry.