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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ads advocate civil unions in Idaho

Associated Press

NAMPA, Idaho – A gay-rights group took out advertisements in several statewide papers Thursday advocating civil unions, one of the first salvos in this expected legislative battle over what constitutes marriage.

Jim Smith, co-chairman of the group Your Family Friends and Neighbors, said the ad is part of a campaign known as “A Simple Matter of Equality.” He said the ad was designed to prompt those who oppose same-sex marriage to examine why they feel the way they do.

The advertisement depicts the Shiverick family of Boise, including their two young children.

The ad says the family represents a committed relationship, and the parents want their children to marry someone they will be happy with, regardless of gender. It also reads the couple does not feel their marriage is threatened by civil unions.

“We will probably be accused of hiring actors for the ad, but I want it to be clear that this is a real family and they are fully in agreement with the views expressed in the ad,” said Robert McDiarmid, a board member for the group and the ad’s designer. “Its a view held by many families, but one that is rarely heard above the boisterous rhetoric.”

Smith said the ad campaign was initiated after last year’s efforts in the Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The proposed amendment, which would require voter approval, was approved in the House before getting stuck in the Senate State Affairs Committee.

Former Sen. Sheila Sorenson, a Boise Republican who will run for Congress next year, stalled the bill in committee before committee members killed it by a single vote.

The majority argued the measure, sponsored by Eagle Rep. Henry Kulczyk, was unnecessary because of a 1997 state law banning gay marriage. The majority also rejected advocates’ claims that Idaho courts would declare the law unconstitutional as courts have done in other states.

Amendment supporters this year are preparing another version of the proposed amendment to define the state’s definition of marriage.

“There’s clearly support in the House,” Nampa Republican Curt McKenzie said. “I have been working with a number of senators and representatives on getting some language that we think is the most appropriate.”

He said a resolution could appear for consideration in the next few weeks.

Freshman Rep. Nicole LeFavour, an openly gay legislator from Boise, said the resolution will not affect just gay couples but also has implications for heterosexual couples who have been in long-term relationships.

“You’ll find a lot of people are opposed to this bill no matter what their view on marriage is,” LeFavour said.

Ads were purchased in the Idaho Press-Tribune, the Times-News in Twin Falls, the Idaho Statesman and the Idaho edition of The Spokesman-Review.

The group said it paid for the ads with member donations and several grants.