Truth Wins Out placed an admittedly provocative full-page ad in today’s edition of Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, headlined “Newt Gingrich: Talks Like a Preacher, Lives Like a Porn Star.” In it, we admonish Gingrich for his stunning hypocrisy on the issue of marriage equality, taking him to task for the way that he, a serial adulterer with multiple marriages, works tirelessly to prevent same-sex couples from marrying because of a professed belief that marriage is “sacred.”
This ad was strategically timed to coincide with the start of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. The annual conference, which began today and culminates on Saturday with a closely-watched straw poll, is the nation’s largest gathering of conservatives and has become a place of pilgrimage for right-wing celebrities, bloggers, pundits, elected officials, and presidential candidates. The speaker’s list for this year’s conference reads like the roster of a conservative Dream Team: Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Michele Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, Tony Perkins, Ann Coulter, Herman Cain, John Boehner, and GOP presidential wannabes Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich.
It also comes in the midst of a white-hot week for the freedom to marry movement — a week in which the House and Senate in Washington state passed a marriage equality bill, a similar bill was introduced in the Illinois Assembly, and California’s Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional in a federal appellate court. And it’s only Thursday!
While TWO’s ad is already receiving a lot of attention from LGBT media, our organization is also hearing from critics who wonder why we decided to focus on Gingrich at all, since his presidential campaign has deflated so rapidly in recent weeks. “He’s yesterday’s news,” one activist wrote. “Slamming Newt is pointless — he doesn’t have a chance of becoming the nominee.”
Those who make these arguments miss the point entirely. Truth Wins Out is not trying to influence the outcome of the presidential election. We’re leaving that to organizations like the Stonewall Democrats, the Log Cabin Republicans, and the Human Rights Campaign. (Besides, one newspaper ad can’t even compete in the brave new political world of Super PACs.) TWO launched the ad because we believe that when the LGBT community is attacked, we should fight back. It doesn’t matter what political party, if any, a person belongs to – we sharply criticized then-Senator Barack Obama when his campaign invited the outspokenly homophobic and self-proclamed “ex-gay” singer Donnie McClurkin to join him on the trail in South Carolina, to name just one example. Regardless of a person’s politics, if they attack or degrade LGBT people, we must respond.