No California Doctors Were Harmed In The Making Of This Commercial

Jim Burroway

April 8th, 2009

She says she’s a “California doctor,” but she’s actually an actress playing one on T.V.

That about as accurate as things get on the “Crazy Dingbat Insane Ookie Spookie” advertising campaign unleashed by Maggie Gallagher’s National Organization for Marriage (NOM). In fact, that “California doctor” actress was one of many that had auditioned for the campaign. The Human Rights Campaign was able to obtain videos of some of the auditions for the ad:

According to the HRC, the ad is set to run eight times per day in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and California. Because the ad is slated to play in states where marriage equality is at the fore, it’s important to look not only at the bad acting on display in the ad, but the false information behind it.

“I’m a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job.”
This California “doctor” refers to a case that has nothing to do with marriage. Last year, the California Supreme Court ruled that a doctor that offers artificial insemination services cannot pick and chose who to offer services to.

This was an important decision, and it should have been a no-brainer. Think of it: what if the decision had gone the other way. It would then have been legal for a doctor to refuse to treat any LGBT person for any illness, condition, or injury simply because doing so might have run counter to their “religious beliefs.” Is that how Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage would have it?

“I’m part of a NJ church group punished by the government because we can’t support same-sex marriage.”
As we reported last December, this “New Jersey church group” story has become a new favorite falsehood in an attempt to scare people of faith. This “church group” actually refers to the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which is not a church. It operates the Auditorium Pavilion, which was made exempt from state property tax in exchange for being open for public use and access. It is not a religious facility, nor are several other facilities built on land owned by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association — including stores, restaurants, hotels, private homes and a beach boardwalk alongside a public beach.

The facilities were granted a tax exemption by the state of New Jersey on the provision that they be maintained as public accommodations. (Two chapels are tax exempt due to religious use, but they are not a part of the dispute.) The Auditorium Pavilion has been rented out to the general public for all sorts of events, including concerts, debates and even Civil War reenactments — none of which are religious in character. In March 2007, a lesbian couple was rejected by the Association when they tried to rent the Pavilion for a civil union ceremony. They filed a complaint with the State Division on Civil Rights and won. A state commissioner explained:

“When people hear the words ‘open space,\’ we want them to think not just of open air and land, but that it is open to all people,” said [Lisa Jackson, state commissioner of environmental protection]. “And when the public subsidizes it with tax breaks, it goes with the expectation that it is not going to be parsed out, whether it be by activity or any particular beliefs.”

The state of New Jersey didn’t challenge the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association\’s beliefs about homosexuality. It only held that a public facility must remain open to the public — and that means all of the public.

“I’m a Massachusetts parent helplessly watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is OK.”
This refers to David Parker, the Massachusetts parent who sued his local school district when they provided students with a book called Who’s in a Family? The book illustrated various family constructions: single parents, mom-dad-kids, grandparents, mixed-race families, and same-sex parents. Parker complained to the school district, demanding that the district change its curriculum to accommodate his religious belief that any discussion of same-sex parenting must be excluded — including any conversations about children of gay or lesbian parents.

Now this is a difficult requirement for the school district to meet. After all, there were children of gay and lesbian parents in those same schools. Should teachers pretend that their parents don’t exist? Should the district bar those parents from school functions? Should kids be prohibited from talking about their families?

The school district found Parker’s demand to be impossible to meet. And besides, they weren’t teaching that “gay marriage is OK,” just that it happens and some of the children from those families attend school, and other kids in school shouldn’t treat them badly because of it.

That didn’t satisfy Parker, who sued the school district in Federal Court. In February 2007, U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf dismissed the lawsuit. Parker appealed, but the three judge appeals panel unanimously upheld Judge Wolf’s decision:

“Public schools are not obliged to shield individual students from ideas which potentially are religiously offensive, particularly when the school imposes no requirement that the student agree with or affirm those ideas, or even participate in discussions about them,” the court said in its ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

So there you have it. Three claims, three lies. That’s a remarkable achievement for a group that wants to stand for truth.


April 8th, 2009

You know? it would be interesting to know who these actors are. it would be fitting that they also see a little push back from performing in this video.

Anyone has an idea?

Brian Labahn

April 8th, 2009

I’m not a person of legalese, or the law for that matter, but isn’t there some kind of a law dealing with “truth in advertising?” Can’t they be blocked for flat out telling LIES???? Just this gay man’s 2 cents worth…


April 8th, 2009

I take it, then, that Maggie Gallagher isn’t going to take Cal Thomas’ advice.


April 8th, 2009


The claims made in the ad were ones of opinion and interpretation. Truth in advertising laws do not apply to these types of assertions, only to those of bare fact.

Politician use this difference to their advantage all the time, unfortunately.


April 8th, 2009

Parker complained to the school district, demanding that the district change its curriculum to accommodate his religious belief that any discussion of same-sex parenting must be excluded — including any conversations about children of gay or lesbian parents.

The Boston Globe story you link, Jim, doesn’t contain this detail. All it says is that the suing couples complained about

teachers were indoctrinating children to believe that homosexuality is acceptable and were doing so in a compulsory school setting.[emphasis added]

I’ve seen FRC video on this very case, and their it is claimed that all the parents wanted was the right to exempt their child from the pro-gay lessons. Did they lie about their suit?


April 8th, 2009

The 2nd point in this campaign is also absolutely eviscerated by the rarely-mentioned Second Court ruling about this defendant.
While Berstein-Paster vs OC Methodist was decided in favor of the plaintiffs, the case brought of Moore-Sonnessa vs OC Methodist, based on an event only a couple of days after B-P, was decided (on the same day, if I remember correctly) for OC Methodist because they withdrew the pavilion from Public Use.
This proves that the religious organization cannot be forced to change their beliefs, they just cannot offer Public Space and get special tax exemptions without being subject to non-discrimination law.


April 9th, 2009

Thank you for exposing these lies, Jim!


April 9th, 2009

Someone from our side needs to run a counter-ad exposing these blatant lies, and in a clear and resounding manner. If these are the best reasons they have for opposing equal marriage rights, they don’t have much. Why don’t they just come out and admit they just plain don’t approve of gay people having equal rights–Period?

Timothy Kincaid

April 9th, 2009

Those misled by Dave’s assertions may wish to refresh themselved by rereading our commentary. Unlike Dave, we don’t rely on the Family Research Council’s video as our primary source.

Brian Torwelle

April 9th, 2009

I just posted my response to Youtube about this ad.

Regan DuCasse

April 9th, 2009

The very actors speak saying how ‘afraid’ they are. That they ‘fear’, what gay marriage will and has been doing. Obvious scare words…and they know the power they have.

Why would anyone prefer fear and ignorance to peace and education?

What really grates my nerves is all these people who provide a service that give NO indication they’d have ANY religious objections unless and until gay people show up for services.

It’s not like they post signs with their religious objections listed. It’s not like there is an opportunity for anyone who meets or doesn’t, their criteria to not come to them in the first place.

It’s not wrong for a gay person to assume a public service is for them too.

So why don’t these stupid people with a problem post some conspicuous information to give someone that opportunity to reject their services first?


I know all of you understand why, but it would be MORE than too much fun to hear it from those with the religious objections. Yes, especially those who say it’s they who are morally truthful.


April 10th, 2009

I talk about it too…


April 10th, 2009

“Those misled by Dave’s assertions…”

Those misled by Dave’s assertions!

Just what assertions did I make that are likely to mislead anyone, Timothy? Do tell.

The only assertions I made were:

I’ve seen FRC video on this very case, and [there] it is claimed that all the parents wanted was the right to exempt their child from the pro-gay lessons.

These assertions are true. I have seen the video, and in it the Parkers do claim they wanted the right to exempt their son from the pro-gay lessons. They mention nothing about the school changing its curriculum. You can see the video for yourself at YouTube.

It is perfectly fair to use the Family Research Council video as a primary source of information on the Parkers themselves as it is an interview of them. (The issue, of course, is just what is learned about them.)

It should be noted, however, that by asking a question about what was said in a video I’ve seen doesn’t mean I’m taking the video as a primary source for anything. It means I’m asking a question about what was said in it. To make the further leap that I place particular trust in the FRC is illogical in the extreme.

The commentary you now link to doesn’t provide any support for the claim that the Parkers wanted the curriculum changed.

The abc story linked there states,

Parker asked teachers and officials at the school to notify him any time the subject of homosexuality was discussed in class.

That’s parental notification (which was also mentioned in the video) not altering curriculum.

The Boston Globe story linked states,

Parker and his wife, Tonia, … said the dispute arose because they asked school officials to notify them about classroom discussions about same-sex marriage and what they called other adult themes. They also wanted the option to exclude their boy, now 6, from those talks.

Again, no changing of the curriculum is mentioned.

Now, if only Jim Burroway would condescend to answer my original question.

a. mcewen

April 10th, 2009

And about the David Parker situation – I have in my possession the letters between Parker and the school. They told him implicitly that his child was not being “taught” about homosexuality in lessons. I covered the controversy for my blog and book.

Based on my information, it is clear that Parker and the conservative group in Massachusetts, Mass Resistance, orchestrated in the entire controversy, even to the point of Mass Resistance members being present when Parker was led away in handcuffs and arraigned (the group has pictures of the arrest and arraignment on its webpage)

Timothy Kincaid

April 10th, 2009

Those misled by Dave’s dissembing may wish to refresh themselved by rereading our commentary or Alvin McEwen’s synopsis.

Alvin has some great quotes from Mr. Parker that make clear that it was not “the subject of homosexuality” to which he objected but even the acknowledgment of the existance of same-sex families.

And sorry, folks, but I just can’t recommend a Family Research Council video as a primary source of information on the Parkers, their goals, or their actions. I think we all know why.


April 11th, 2009

Columnist Kathleen Parker (sorry, don’t have link) coined the phrase “oogedy-boogedy crowd” for such people. It seems appropriate.

I believe it’s pronounced “oo -guh – dee – BOO – guh – dee” but may be shortened to “oog -dee -BOOG – dee.”


April 11th, 2009


Oh, now I’m a liar, am I?

Alvin has some great quotes from Mr. Parker that make clear that it was not “the subject of homosexuality” to which he objected but even the acknowledgment of the existance of same-sex families.

Yes, we all know that the book Who’s in a Family started off the argument in the first place. That’s beside the point I brought up.

BTB’s original post on this, to which you have now pointed twice, said,

[Parker] set out to change school policy so that his child not be exposed to that fact [of same-sex couples and their families].

Nothing was said about Parker demanding a change in curriculum. The page of Alvin McEwen’s says also nothing about such a demand. And it is about whether or not the Parkers ever made this demand that I am curious.

I fail to see how asking if the Parkers did indeed make this demand is making any assertion, let alone a misleading one.

As far as your bugaboo over the FRC video goes, just how is reporting from Alvin McEwen, or ABC, or the Boston Globe better than a video interview of the Parkers themselves, no matter who did the interviewing? On the video we get to hear the Parker’s own words as they leave their own lips!

Unless you think the folks at the Family Research Council used dubbing and special video effects to put words into the Parker’s mouths, the fact that it is an FRC video is entirely irrelevant.

Jason D

April 12th, 2009

“Parker and his wife, Tonia, … said the dispute arose because they asked school officials to notify them about classroom discussions about same-sex marriage and what they called other adult themes. They also wanted the option to exclude their boy, now 6, from those talks.”

If there’s a kid who’s parents are a gay couple, the teacher would have to have the Parkers on speedial.

“Josh is talking about his Moms again, should I send junior to make some copies for me? Oh, and Susan just got back from visiting her Uncles in Palm Springs, maybe junior can spend the day with the school nurse?”

yeah, i’d consider that a curriculum change.


April 12th, 2009

I made a video response to the NOM as that find interesting similarities with the NOM ad and images the KKK used in the 1920s to promote antisemitism, anti-Catholism, and nativism.

Please take a look:


April 13th, 2009

they weren’t teaching that “gay marriage is OK,” just that it happens and some of the children from those families attend school

I’m going to slightly disagree only because I think teaching that something is OK and teaching something exists cannot be separated. Obviously, existence and justification are not the same, but existence implies justification. Somewhere in the human psyche is the concept that an action or idea is acceptable to the extent that it has being. From this same root comes the idea that natural = good (because a natural thing has more existence than an unnatural thing) and that majority = good (because the minority exists less than the majority).

Why? Beats me. Is this correct? Maybe not. Nevertheless, there it is. I’m afraid there is no neutral ground here.

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