CHARLOTTE — National gay media group In The Life Media announced today a series of three web videos they plan to run as online and TV advertisements in North Carolina and across the nation. Their ad campaign, “Marriage Matters,” seeks to start a conversation on marriage and what it means to same-sex couples.

The ads are the first produced in what is anticipated to be a long and expensive ballot campaign to defeat an anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment approved for the May 8, 2012, primary ballot by Republican legislators in September. The amendment would ban recognition of marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples and some opposite-sex couples.

The media group says they will place “strategic ad buys” with a number of online and TV media outlets including the Spanish-language Terra Networks, The Charlotte Observer, gay TV network Here Media and progressive online ad network Common Sense Media.

The campaign features three same-sex couples who have faced difficulty or uncertainty as a result of discriminatory marriage laws. In The Life Media says they want to “emphasize that same-sex couples want to marry for similar reasons to straight couples and illustrate how denying couples access to marriage can cause real harm and challenge a family’s ability to care for each other.” One of the videos is presented in Spanish.

“These videos demonstrate the power of personal stories of love and commitment, told through media, to educate the public on this issue,” the group said in a release.

The web videos have been produced in partnership with the national group Freedom to Marry and statewide Equality North Carolina. They are funded with support from the The Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.

“With these videos, In The Life Media is creating media with a mission,” In The Life Media Executive Director Michelle Kristel said. “Our partnership with Freedom to Marry and Equality North Carolina is a perfect example of how we can effectively use media to change the hearts and minds of Americans on the issue of marriage equality.”

At the end of each web video, viewers are prompted to learn more about Freedom to Marry’s national “Say, ‘I do’ Mr. President,” campaign. On In The Life Media’s website, viewers can learn more about Equality North Carolina’s campaign to get citizens to pledge to vote against the anti-LGBT amendment in May.

“Our new web site was designed to provide our viewers with the tools to participate in a meaningful way with our content and engage in conversations and take action on issues important to the LGBT community,” Kristel said.

Equality North Carolina Executive Director Stuart Campbell said in a statement that the fight for full marriage equality is important but should not overshadow the current threat facing LGBT North Carolinians and unmarried couples in the state. The amendment, he said, was “one of the most far-reaching anti-LGBT amendments in the history of the country.”

“The language in this amendment is so broad and overreaching it should trouble even those who oppose marriage equality,” Campbell said, an apparent reference to conservative leaders like North Carolina’s Tea Party U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, a freshman Republican from Dunn, who have already expressed concern or opposition to the amendment.

Campbell added, “This amendment would not only permanently foreclose marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for our families, it would also deny them any other measure of protections, large or small — a cruel punishment particularly in these tough economic times.”

Campbell also said the amendment would also affect current domestic violence laws and child custody agreements. Concerns over the amendment’s broad language have been voiced several times by University of North Carolina Law Professors Maxine Eichner and Lau Holning. Neither of the scholars nor citizens potentially affected by the amendment were allowed to address the measure in hearings before its approval by the Republican-controlled legislature in September.

Equality North Carolina is a member of the new Coalition to Protect NC Families, the referendum committee that will lead the campaign against the anti-LGBT amendment. The N.C. Values Coalition, led by anti-gay and hate group Family Research Council-affiliated lobbyist Tami Fitzgerald, will lead support for the amendment.

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Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.