Less than five weeks before Election Day, the campaigns on both sides of the debate over the transgender antidiscrimination law launched new digital ads, setting the stage for an emotional ad war over who could be protected or hurt by the measure.
“Freedom for All Massachusetts,” the campaign that wants to preserve the law with a “yes” vote, launched its first ads, beginning with a spot called “My Kid,” which features a family with a transgender child to draw attention to the children who could be affected if Question 3 is voted down and the law is repealed.
“I love my kids and I’d do anything to protect them,” a father named Don says, before introducing a family that includes a transgender son named Ian.
“Just like other kids, he likes hanging out with friends,” Don says in the ad. “So I want him to be protected from discrimination in public places, like restaurants.”
“That’s why I’m asking you to vote yes on Question 3,” Ian says in the ad. “It lets me live my life just like everyone else.”
Question 3 on the Nov. 6 ballot asks Massachusetts voters whether they want to keep or repeal the two-year-old law that bars discrimination of transgender people in public spaces like stores and restaurants and requires that any public place with separate areas for men and women to let people use the space consistent with their gender identity.
If voters approve of the law, there would be no change. If they vote “no,” the antidiscrimination law would be repealed.
Former Salem police chief Paul Tucker appears in the Freedom for All campaign’s other two ads, which aim to assuage public safety concerns being raised about the law by the opposition. In one ad, Tucker says the law presents no greater danger, adding: “Laws already exist to prevent assault and hold offenders accountable. And in the two years since state law began protecting transgender people from discrimination, there’s been no increase in public safety incidents, including in restrooms.”
In the final ad, his message is echoed by Debra J. Robbin, executive director of Jane Doe Inc., a Massachusetts coalition that advocates for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. “Dignity and respect, that’s what this is about,” Robbin says in the ad.
The Globe previously reported that Freedom for All Massachusetts had reserved $900,000 worth of TV airtime on broadcast TV in the Boston and Springfield areas between Oct. 22 and Nov. 5. A spokesman for the campaign, Matthew Wilder, said one of these ads may be used for the TV campaign.
Meanwhile, the “No On 3” campaign, also known as “Keep MA Safe,” released its second digital campaign ad on YouTube this week.
That video features Gina, a Massachusetts mother, saying that one of her daughters had to change in the girl’s locker room in the presence of a boy.
Text that runs over the screen says that “The MA bathroom and locker room allows men into women’s spaces.”
“Our children deserve the right to privacy,” Gina says on the video. “They deserve to be able to feel comfortable. They should be able to change and not feel like their privacy is being invaded.”
The “No on 3” campaign argues that the law’s definition of gender identity is too broad and ripe for abuse from men who could use it to invade women’s privacy. Gender identity refers to someone’s sincerely held identity, appearance or behavior, regardless of the sex they were assigned at birth.
The opposition campaign previously released a digital ad showing a little girl upset by the presence of a man in the female restroom. “A little girl shouldn’t have to wonder why there’s a man using the women’s bathroom,” the child narrator said in that ad.