How marriage opponents’ ‘Schools’ ads are false and misleading

For years, anti-gay organizations that oppose the freedom to marry have relied on the same scare tactics and false mis-information to propel their campaigns forward and push through discrimination at the ballot. This year is no exception: In all four states facing marriage-related ballot initiatives, opponents are taking to the television airwaves with a version of the "Schools" argument, which claims that if states end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, schools will be forced to teach students about marriage between same-sex couples. 

The "Schools" ad is largely regarded as one of the most effective television ads from 2008, when marriage opponents pushed through the unconstitutional Proposition 8 to strip gay and lesbian couples in California of the freedom to marry.

This new ad hinges largely on a story about a teacher in Massachusetts who read a book about two princes marrying. The ad distorts this story and says that after Massachusetts ended the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, local schools taught the marriage law to children. Many news sources and fact-check organizations debunked this claim, with Minnesota Public Radio explaining, "There's no evidence that same-sex marriage is taught throughout Massachusetts, and the state doesn't require such curriculum."

The Mainers United for Marriage campaign effectively counters each of the claims made in the advertisement. Their new "Fact Check" entry explains that Question 1 in Maine - and all three of the other ballot measures, too - will not change educational policy or impact curricula in schools.

Authorities in all of the states have spoken out about why these claims are untrue.

Randy Dorn, the superintendent of public instruction in Washington, said that the opponents' claims are lies. He said: "There is absolutely nothing in R-74 or the new marriage law that will change anything at all in our schools or in our curriculum. This is a red herring." Rather, Dorn explained, curriculum in the state is changed only through a process involving school boards, educators, and parents.  

Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United, elaborates: "We know that children learn their values at home from their parents. No law will change that. Question 1 will allow same-sex couples to receive a marriage license while protecting religious freedom. It will not change education policy or any curriculum, which is set at the local level in Maine. Opponents of marriage are bringing back a misleading argument from 2009 that they themselves have admitted is not accurate. It wasn't true then, and it's not true now." 

Josh Levin, the campaign manager for the Vote For 6 campaign, explained, "Parents, teachers, and local school districts determine the public school curriculum in Maryland. That, too, will never change. The ad is false and meant to scare voters."