"All God's Children" Campaign

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The "All God’s Children" Campaign is an effort by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to challenge religious opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage and promote LGBT acceptance in the Southern United States.[1] According to the HRC, the program was designed to "change hearts and minds, improve the public perception and overall awareness of LGBT people, begin to reduce the painful stigma that many face in their daily lives, and help future efforts to enact pro-equality legislation.”[2] The program specifically targeted Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas – all states that had no form of housing, employment, or marriage protections for LGBT citizens.[3]

Background[edit]

The United States south of the Mason-Dixon line was notoriously "culturally conservative" until approximately the early 2000s;[4] in 2004, many southern states were passing laws banning same-sex marriage.[4] However, southern support as a whole rose an entire 26 percentage points from 2003 to 2013, leaving the south currently split about evenly on the issue of same-sex marriage.[4] Scholars suggest that some of the factors leading to this cultural change include generational differences, the “friends and family effect,” and a new appreciation for the separation of church and state.[4] Approximately 64% of Southerners can say that they know someone who is gay or lesbian, a factor that is considered crucial for support of legislation such as same-sex marriage.[4]

Even so, with a score of 55, the south holds the lowest regional social climate index score for the LGBT community in the United States.[5] Same-sex couples with kids have a household income that averages about $11,000 lower than heterosexual couples[5] Southern queer males hold higher HIV infection rates than those in other parts of the country; additionally, only ¾ of southern queer people are covered by health insurance.[5] "Discomfort" with exposure to LGBT lifestyles, such as attending a same-sex wedding or seeing pictures of a coworker with a same-sex partner, polls about 5-10 percentage points higher in the South than in northern states.[6]

Additionally, states like Mississippi are still deeply rooted in religion, with more than half of its residents being members of the southern Baptist church,[7] because of this, the Human Rights Campaign refers to Mississippi, their target audience for the early stages of the All God's Children campaign, as being "the most religious state in America."[2] Mississippi also contributed to its anti-LGBT image with the passage of a "license to discriminate" bill in April, 2014.[6]

Strategy[edit]

The "All God's Children" project included phone banking, TV commercials, banner ads, and "direct-mail" messages,[7] the ad campaign featured testimonies from Christian parents of LGBT children, gay army veterans, and transgender students to appeal towards the religious community.[2][7][1] The Mississippi campaign itself was expected to cost approximately $310,000, out of a total of $8.5 million including Alabama and Arkansas over the course of three years.[7] The first television commercials aired in November 2014 in Mississippi, two days before a federal court hearing on a state law banning same-sex marriage.[7]

Response[edit]

The American Family Association of Mississippi, however, issued a retaliatory statement in November [2014] arguing that the “[normalization of] homosexuality in the southern states” would not be acceptable to their program.[1] Others argued that the campaign wouldn’t be enough to change the hearts of “biblically literate Christians.”[1] Southern Protestants, especially those in the Southern Baptist Convention, are alleged to be the most vehemently opposed to the expansion of LGBT protections in the south.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Pratt, Timothy (2015-01-30). "Meet the LGBT rights activists taking on the US south: 'Why run from your turf?'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-03-12. 
  2. ^ a b c "Mississippi 'All God's Children' Pro-Equality Campaign Draws Ire of Baptist Leaders". 2014-11-14. Retrieved 2017-04-17. 
  3. ^ "Is The Deep South The Next Big LGBT Rights Battleground?". ThinkProgress. 2014-04-27. Retrieved 2017-04-17. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Jones, Robert P. "The South's Stunning Embrace of Gay Marriage."The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Hasenbush, Amira, Andrew R. Flores, Angeliki Kastanis, Brad Sears, and Gary G. Gates.The LGBT Divide.Williams Institute.Law.UCLA. UCLA, Dec. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2017.
  6. ^ a b "LGBT Life in the South". GLAAD. 2014-10-27. Retrieved 2017-04-17. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Reeves, Jay (November 8, 2014). "TV campaign for gay equality starting in Miss". Associated Press. Retrieved March 12, 2017.