SALT LAKE CITY — Two days before arguments over Utah's definition of marriage begin in a federal appeals court, a same-sex marriage advocacy group will launch a television ad campaign featuring a longtime married heterosexual couple and a familiar face.
The 30-second spots, sponsored by Utah Unites for Marriage, emphasize marriage as legal and civil right and say that no church or faith would be required to perform weddings for same-sex couples. The ads will begin to air Tuesday.
One of the ads features William and Marge Bradshaw, who say they met while serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the parents of five children, including a gay son, and 18 grandchildren.
"All gay and lesbian people deserve to have the rights and the privileges that we've had," Marge Bradshaw says.
"A marriage is bond between two people based in love and commitment," William Bradshaw says. "Allowing civil marriages will be a good thing for Utah."
Utah Unites for Marriage is a coalition of local and national organizations, including Equality Utah and the Human Rights Campaign, with three well-known Utahns —Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, former TV news anchor Terry Wood and former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman — serving as co-chairmen.
The group formed last month saying it wants to bring out the human side of the marriage debate with personal stories.
In another ad, Wood talks about what he's learned from his gay son.
"I've come to realize that marriage is for all people," he says. "If gay and lesbian couples are allowed the right of marriage, it's not going to hurt the state one bit."
Wood joined Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah, to introduce the ad campaign Monday night at a send-off rally for the plaintiffs and lawyers who will argue against Utah's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage this week in a federal appeals court in Denver.
"The point of these ads is to inform the conversation of who we are and who our families are," Balken said. "We're taking the conversation into people's living rooms."
Monday's rally included brief statements from the plaintiffs in the case, who expressed appreciation for Utahns who have supported them and optimism about the pending appeal.
"To Derek (Kitchen) and myself, marriage is much more than a certificate," plaintiff Moudi Sbeity told the crowd. "It gives us the tools to build a life."
Supporters at the rally penned encouraging messages on stacks of paper hearts, which were presented to the team preparing for the trip to Denver.
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