It has been nearly one year since this Australian marriage equality ad blazed a path across the Internet, racking up more than six million views and becoming the most popular ad for the issue ever made:
The Advocate famously referred to it as "possibly the most beautiful marriage equality ad we've ever seen." I was one of many moved to tears and now It's Time | Marriage Equality is working to bring this beautiful viral ad to the television airwaves across the United States.
The journey of "It's Time" in late-2011 represented a textbook case of content originally produced for a narrow purpose -- in this case to influence votes for an upcoming conference of Australia's Labor Party -- only to see its message resonate far-beyond its original constituency. As one of the producers of the ad remarked, "what started as initially an Australian campaign very quickly, in a short period of time, became a global phenomenon."
The theme at the heart of "It's Time" is the same theme that has been adopted by LGBT activists around the U.S. in their pursuit for marriage equality: love and commitment. The ad's eloquent depiction of a same-sex relationship has been met with such unprecedented enthusiasm, moderate D.C. think tank Third Way states, "because it shows -- not tells -- that gay couples are much more similar to straight couples than they are different. And ultimately, that's the key to winning the hearts and minds of the middle."
"It's Time" has already reached many of marriage equality's most passionate advocates. Now, we hope to reach those individuals in the middle that remain largely apathetic or undecided on the issue. We hope to contribute to the fight for not just marriage equality but acceptance of gay couples by bringing "It's Time" into the homes of individuals across the United States.
The campaign to bring "It's Time" to the U.S. airwaves has been in the making since last November, when I first came across the ad. As the video overwhelmed my Facebook news feed and the view counter climbed into the millions, I created a Facebook group to rally support around this goal. Within a matter of hours, the group's base swelled into the thousands, and the PayPal account I had created to start raising funds for airtime experienced a flood of donations. Several weeks later, with the help of a dedicated group of professionals who had approached me, It's Time | Marriage Equality (ITME) was founded. Soon after we obtained U.S. rights to "It's Time" from its producers and have since opened up channels of communication with various state-based LGBT organizations.
ITME is guided by one overarching principle: we believe that the more the public can relate to the LGBT community, the greater the strides toward full equality will be. We perceive the biggest social hindrance to LGBT equality as the perception of gays, and gay couples, as a mysterious "other." Our intention with "It's Time" is to powerfully convey how gay and lesbian relationships are normal relationships.
But the message of "It's Time" extends far beyond the issue of marriage equality. It represents two people who, independent of their gender and sexual orientation, are able to spend their lives together without social or political barriers. It shows struggling LGBT children that they can live a happy and healthy life as an LGBT individual and in a same-sex relationship. It demonstrates the overwhelming parallels that exist between straight and gay couples, knocking down non-existent barriers that have long existed in the minds of many Americans and moving the dial forward on LGBT equality and acceptance.
Our criterion for target markets include states with upcoming ballot initiatives and markets that have yet to demonstrate strong support for marriage equality, as well as those that have already done so and continue to play an influential role in the debate. For each market that is selected, we will work with state-based organizations that are fighting for equality on the ground to promote the message of "It's Time."
And should we raise sufficient funds in the coming weeks, we intend to bring "It's Time" to the national stage during a prime-time television event. Additionally, our long-term aspirations include create original 30 and 60-second vignettes of real couples, unrolling them in a similar manner across the country to advance our mission of making LGBT rights more relatable to the general public.
With votes on marriage equality coming up in four states this November -- Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington -- there hasn't been a more important time to assist in the fight for equality. But the fight will continue long after these November elections, and we want the message of "It's Time" to be on the front lines making the case for full LGBT rights.
It's time. Help us get the message out!
It's Time | Marriage Equality (ITME) is a U.S. non-profit organization with pending 501(c)3 status. Contributions are being solicited through our Social Teeth fundraising page, and you can follow the progress of the campaign on ITME's Facebook page.