Stock Photo Shenanigans

I love this story, which comes from Peter Murtagh at The Irish Times:


[Image via The Irish Times from the Facebook page of comedian Adam Hills.]

The man and woman featured in posters opposing the same sex marriage referendum have denounced the use of their image and say they support “completely” the proposed change to the Constitution.

In a statement published through Amnesty International, the couple said they were “surprised and upset” to see that the photo was being used as part of a campaign with which they do not agree.

“We completely support same-sex marriage, and we believe that same-sex couples’ should of course be able to adopt, as we believe that they are equally able to provide children with much-needed love and care. To suggest otherwise is offensive to us, and to many others,” they said.

Stuff like this has happened to anti-SSM folks before, but this one is especially illustrative.


Well, Mothers and Fathers Matter, the organization behind the ad, is trying hard not to be the bad guy here: it doesn’t want to be negative or come off as hateful. Thus a cheerful shot of a happy heterosexual family over a bright reminder to vote “No.”

Of course, for this ad to work, viewers have to make an implicit negative association: that voting “Yes” for marriage equality means voting against this type of happy, healthy family.

That’s not a logical association, obviously. Healthy gay marriages don’t negatively affect straight marriages at all. But it reflects an (maybe the) unexamined assumption that dominates the religious right’s thinking on this question: that is, that gay marriage is opposed to straight marriage. What else could lead one to believe that a photo of a straight couple is somehow an argument against gay marriage?

The right’s refusal to question that assumption drives me up a wall. I want to shout whenever I read someone describing support for gay marriage as an attack on the family. So it’s refreshing to see that assumption explode so publicly. Because when the family pictured in the anti-SSM ad says, “We’re not opposed to gay marriage,” they’re also making clear that gay marriage is not opposed to us

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