Freedom to Marry

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This is an ad created (jointly) by the Log Cabin Republicans and the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry last August.  Both of these organizations advocate the recognition of same sex marriages by the government, which means that both of them are part of the LGBT rights movement.

The text defines a social movement as an “uninstitutionalized collectivity that operates on a sustained basis to exert external influence on behalf of a cause” (480).  To better understand what a social movement is, it helps to break down this definition a bit.  First, a social movement is “uninstitutionalized.”  This means that it is “outside of the mainstream” (480) and also that it is not specifically sanctioned by a government or a facet of government.  A social movement must come from society itself; otherwise, it is just legislation or a political debate.  Next, a social movement is a “collectivity.”  This means that one person cannot be a social movement, although one person can certainly begin a social movement.  When only one person is involved, it is simply a belief or an idea; once that person gets others involved, it can grow to become a social movement.  Next, a social movement “operates on a sustained basis.”  This means that the movement persists with the same beliefs over time.  If the beliefs change, it may still be considered a social movement, but it will be a new social movement (if the beliefs change enough).  The persistence is also important; when a social movement stops “operating on a sustained basis,” it ceases to be a social movement.  Finally, a social movement “exerts external influence on behalf of a cause.”  This is possibly the most important part of the definition of a social movement: it must have a cause and it must try to influence others to join or support its cause.  This means that a group of friends who all believe the same thing are not a social movement until they take action and try to engage those from outside themselves and influence them to join the cause.

The battle for LGBT rights fits this definition of a social movement.  First, it is “uninstitutionalized.”  It is not a part of the government; while many organizations, including the two who created the ad I will discuss soon, are part of this movement and may even work with different branches of the government to achieve their goals, none of them are sanctioned by the government.  They are made up of “regular” citizens—people from throughout society who came together simply because they believe in LGBT rights.  Next, the movement is a collectivity.  There are numerous organizations, all with many members, fighting for these rights, not just a single person.   Next, the movement “operates on a sustained basis.”  While there is no official beginning date for the movement (it may have been after the Stonewall incident in 1969, or it may have started well before that) it is clear that the movement has persisted, in one form or another, throughout the years and the core belief—that all LGBT people deserve the same rights as non-LGBT people—hasn’t changed.  Finally, the movement “exerts external influence on behalf of a cause.”  The cause, as mentioned, is equal rights for LGBT people and non-LGBT people and those people and organizations that are a part of the movement exert influence on those outside of the movement to promote this cause all the time.  Many organizations lobby or at least speak with government officials and try to get them to pass or uphold laws that make same sex marriage legal or that make discrimination against LGBT individuals illegal.  The groups and individuals involved in the movement do not have any actual ways to change or create these rights themselves, but instead they influence those who can.  Since it fits all aspects of the definition, the LGBT rights movement can be considered a social movement.

I chose this particular ad because I found it interesting; as I identify myself as a Republican who also believes in LGBT rights, I was intrigued to see an ad from Republican groups advocating LGBT rights.  I believe the target audience for this ad is Republican senators and congressmen and women; it was created by the groups after the Republican Party redefined its values in its updated platform, including its stance on marriage.  The groups were unsatisfied with the party’s decision to continue to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman and created this ad to try to get party leaders to change their minds.

The ad begins with a direct line from the party’s platform, which says that the Republican Party believes marriage to be an important part of our society and that our stance on marriage will determine the success of the nation.  The groups then show pictures of various same sex couples and says that they agree with this statement—and that this statement should be a reason to legalize same sex marriage.  The groups go on to state that the freedom to marry is very much in accordance with the party’s core values of more individual freedom and less government interference.

I believe this ad is highly persuasive.  Many Republicans who do not support same sex marriage (and other LGBT rights) do so for religious reasons and they often fail to recognize that not allowing certain people to marry goes against those values of freedom and less government control.  I think that the ad does a good job of reminding those viewing it of how those values really should mean that same sex marriage should be supported by the Republican Party.

References

Jones, J., & Simons, H. (2011). Persuasion In Society. New York, NY: Sage Publications

Shapiro, L. (2012). “Republicans for gay marriage take to ‘Tampa Tribune’ to protest GOP platform, demand LGBT rights.” Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/republicans-gay-marriage-tampa_n_1836544.html.

Adrienne Bogard

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