Short Videos on Marriage Equality Could Win Up to $2,500 in L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Project Pushback

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Public, Panel of Judges Will Select Videos that Most Effectively Promote the Freedom for Same-Sex Couples to Marry

I can marry a princess

It's time to grab your camera and help change the conversation about marriage for same-sex couples. The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the New York Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center have launched Project Pushback to tap into the grassroots energy of marriage equality supporters and to inspire development of video messages that will effectively promote support for the freedom to marry.

Since the National Organization for Marriage has launched a $1.5 million ad campaign repeating many of the lies relied so heavily upon by the Yes on 8 campaign, the need for effective messages to promote the support for marriage equality, and the truth, has never been greater.

Submissions will be accepted at http://equalityvideo.org, and the public will vote for its favorites. A $1,000 "people's choice award" will be given to the creator of the video that receives the most votes. From among the 10 videos that receive the most votes, a $2,500 "grand prize" will be awarded to the creator of the video voted the best by a panel of judges, who include: Academy Award-winning Producer Bruce Cohen, Emmy Award-winning television producer and director Paris Barclay, MTV producer Sherri Brown Francois, political and communications strategist Chad Griffin, Google vice president Megan Smith and Current TV producer Tracey Chang.

Submissions will be accepted until June 1, followed by two weeks of public voting.

Anyone who submits a video, or votes for one, is eligible to win a new Sony HD video camera, valued at $1,000.

Project Pushback isn't about a specific election but about building support for the freedom to marry long before campaign season. The best messages will educate and persuade voters as well as motivate people who are already supportive to be more active in promoting marriage equality.

Entries don't need to be complicated--some of the most effective ads by opponents of marriage equality were fairly simple, such as the Yes on 8 campaign's "I can marry a princess" ad. Judges will, however, be looking for innovative and original entries.

"During the fight against Prop 8, opponents of marriage equality used scare tactics and lies in their television ads to frighten voters," says Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. "We need to find effective ways to blunt the impact of those ads by educating people about the truth of our lives. Entries to Project Pushback should help open the minds of those who don't already support our freedom to marry."

The Center's Vote for Equality project, which has harnessed the power of hundreds of volunteers to educate voters about marriage equality since 2004, is continuing to organize neighborhood canvasses in areas where the vote on Prop 8 was evenly split. The issues/reasons most commonly cited by those who voted "yes" on Prop 8 are:

  • Religious opposition
  • Marriage is defined as the union of a man and woman
  • The impact on children

"We're learning a lot about voters from our one-on-one conversations, and just as important, we're starting to change minds," says VFE Project Manager Regina Clemente. "We also realize that face-to-face conversations are not the only way to start to open the minds of voters. We look forward to seeing the best videos from Project Pushback and then testing those messages in person with actual voters."

Vote for Equality's next voter canvass will be on the Sunday after the CA Supreme Court announces its ruling on Prop. 8 - hundreds of volunteers can be accommodated and training is provided. More information about volunteering can be found at http://www.lagaycenter.org/VoteForEquality .

The panel of judges includes:

  • Paris Barclay is an award-winning television director and producer, with two Emmy Awards and two NAACP Image Awards, among others. Barclay's current projects include HBO's In Treatment and MTV's Pedro.
  • Sherri Brown Francois is the producer and director of True Life, MTV News and various documentaries.
  • Tracey Chang is a producer for the Vanguard Journalism department at Current TV, a cable television network founded by former Vice President Al Gore. Since 2005, she has covered a range of stories in countries including Pakistan, China, Colombia and Egypt.
  • Janet Choi is a producer at MTV in New York. A former international correspondent for Channel One News, Janet was also a reporter for KTLA's "Your LA with Janet Choi." She has produced four documentaries based on travels to North Korea, Cuba, Colombia and China.
  • Bruce Cohen is the Academy Award-winning producer of American Beauty, and his most recent film, Milk, was nominated for a best picture Oscar. Cohen also produced Big Fish and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.
  • Rev. Art Cribbs Jr. is pastor of the San Marino Congregational Church and formerly was employed by KPIX-TV in San Francisco. Rev. Cribbs serves as a board member for several organizations, including the United Black Christians in Crisis Committee.
  • Donna Deitch is an award-winning film director best known for her 1986 film Desert Hearts. Deitch also directed The Women of Brewster Place, HBO's Prison Stories: Women on the Inside and Showtime's Devil's Arithmetic, for which she won an Emmy.
  • Chad Griffin is a seasoned political and communications strategist. Griffin raised money for the No on 8 campaign from celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Steve Bing and Ron Burkle. He also helped create the anti-Prop 8 ads featuring Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
  • Hon. John A. Perez is a California Assembly member who has worked in the labor movement and has served as a board member for organizations such as AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Latino Coalition Against AIDS and the California Center for Regional Leadership.
  • Cathy Renna is nationally recognized as a media relations expert. She was a major force behind the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). She is a founder and managing partner at Renna Communications, which specializes in LGBT issues.
  • Hilary Rosen is the managing partner of the DC office of the Brunswick Group, a London-based PR and communications strategy firm. She is also an on-air contributor for CNN and Washington editor-at-large for The Huffington Post.
  • Megan Smith is the Google vice president of new business development and general manager of Google.org and previous CEO of Planet Out.
  • Pam Spaulding is the editor and publisher of Pam's House Blend, honored as "Best LGBT Blog" in the 2005 and 2006 Weblog Awards.
  • Judy Starkman is the co-owner of convergencefilms.com, an L.A.-based production company specializing in commercials and web-based films. In the past she has worked as a commercial director, a television news producer and a photojournalist.
  • Andy Towle is the former editor-in-chief of Genre and the blogger behind Towleroad, which has become an important source for gay news, technology, pop culture, travel and more.
  • Karin Wang, vice president of programs at the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, is a founding steering committee member of API Equality-LA, a coalition of LGBT and allied Asian/Pacific Islander groups working to advance marriage equality and promote positive images of LGBT Asians and Pacific Islanders.
  • Kirsten Schaffer, Executive Director of Outfest, the organization that produces the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Fusion: the Los Angeles LGBT People of Color Film Festival and the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation.

About the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center:
Since 1971 the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center has been building the health, advocating for the rights and enriching the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Our wide array of services and programs includes: free HIV/AIDS care and medications for those most in need; housing, food, clothing and support for homeless LGBT youth; low-cost counseling and addiction-recovery services; essential services for LGBT-parented families and seniors; legal services; health education and HIV prevention programs; transgender services; cultural arts and much more. Visit us on the Web at: http://www.lagaycenter.org .

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