GetUp! Australia’s Ad Is the Cutest Thing to Happen to Gay Marriage Since Ellen and Portia

Australia’s voting population isn’t as divided on the issue of marriage equality as America’s; in fact, almost two-thirds of voters support it. But it’s also not seen as an issue of high national priority, and Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, still claims that marriage equality would constitute an unwelcome change to the institution of marriage.

Into this context comes a new ad campaign from GetUp! Australia, an “independent movement for a progressive Australia:”

Released on Thursday, the video is already rapidly making the rounds of the blogosphere, with Pam’s House Blend declaring it’s “to the point, universal, and says it all,” and the Advocate calling it “possibly the most beautiful ad for marriage equality we’ve seen.” What’s so compelling about this ad that sets it apart from the efforts of a dozen other organization to win more mainstream support for marriage equality?

“The Commitment Campaign” from Third Way, another recent development on the marriage equality PR scene, is based on the premise that straight voters will be more likely to support marriage for gay couples if they’re reminded that same-sex couples care just as much about commitment as straight ones. It’s a campaign meant to work against the apparent belief that gay couples want marriage for different reasons than straight ones. The Advocate sees GetUp!’s campaign as fitting within Third Way’s paradigm, saying that “it’s a message of commitment like this one โ€” and not about benefits or rights โ€” that will be most effective with voters.”

What does this campaign tell us about commitment, though? Well, what actually happens? We watch a couple meet, get to know each other, and get through the milestones of a serious relationships — both the good ones, like successfully meeting the parents, and the heartrending ones, like watching the person you love have a complete breakdown in the bathroom of your apartment and having to stand helplessly by while they drown in grief. We watch everyday occurrences, days at the beach and fights in the car, compressed into two minutes with some truly excellent filmmaking. Most notably, we’re kept from the realization that we’re watching a gay couple until the last few seconds of the video; for the first two minutes or so, we could be watching anyone.

Does the reveal at the end tell us something about commitment, or convince us that gay couples want the same things from marriage that straight ones do? Is it really a message about marriage? The last words you see on the screen are “It’s time.” It’s time to make marriage equality a priority, yes, but isn’t the real idea that it’s time to realize that you really can’t differentiate between a gay couple’s feelings for each other and a straight one without pulling the camera back? The viewer watches the whole spot as if they themselves are part of this relationship, as if it’s all happening to them. Aren’t they really being asked to realize that they don’t feel disgust or disapproval at what they’re experiencing vicariously, but joy and genuine tenderness? Isn’t it time not just to make marriage equality a priority, and not just to recognize that gay couples also want “love and commitment,” but that every moment up to and including putting a ring on a finger is just as precious and scary and real as a straight relationship?

The campaign for marriage equality in Maine also has a series of new ad spots out, which are also touted as promoting a vision of shared values and commitment. The message that flashes on the screen at the end says “Love. Commitment. Marriage.” But it also features a middle-aged dad talking about the struggle to accept his lesbian daughter, and his eventual understanding that “she is the same person [I] loved yesterday.” Maybe that’s what we’re really talking about here; not separate but equal, not even un-separate but equal. More than equal, we are the same as the people who are suspicious of or mistrustful of us. Is that really what “it’s time” for people to understand?


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Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

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65 Comments

  1. Agree with all the other comments, but I wish they would have kissed at the end- or at least something more intimate than a bro hug. Maybe I’m missing something watching on my phone though..

  2. I feel the author has little understanding of the political context that this ad is designed for. The Australian Labor Party, which is basically our version of the Democrats but socialist, is about to have a huge conference where they update their policy, including their stance on marriage. Because the Labor Party is a democratic socialist party they bind, which means they have to vote in Parliament the way the party tells them to. I don’t think you have that in the USA. That means if they decide to support same-sex marriage every Labor parliamentarian has to vote for it (unless they decide to allow a conscience vote).

    This ad is clearly designed for Labor party members and supporters. “It’s time” was the campaign slogan for former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, and holds a lot of weight for these people. Take it as our version of “I like Ike”. As such, it has a very different meaning to what the author’s suggesting.

    The ad is also designed to appeal to the right-wing factions of the Labor party, as the left already support same-sex marriage. That includes everyone from moderate conservatives to the hardest religious offshoots of the trade labor movement – people who believe in workers’ rights but aren’t very progressive. So the answer to the author’s question, “Aren’t [the viewers] really being asked to realize that they don’t feel disgust or disapproval at what they’re experiencing vicariously, but joy and genuine tenderness?” is unequivocally yes. This ad is designed to sway people who think Queers are disgusting sinners.

    • wellll, gillard is allowing a conscience vote for labor MPs, which as per the article Dina linked to above is totally a cop-out move, whereas idiot abbott has definitely ruled it out for the liberals, surprise surprise

      if only gillard would take a stand like we all know she can then there would be so much more progress.

      • Gillard isn’t allowing anything because it’s not her choice to make, although she holds considerable sway over labor party members. Whether or not there will be a conscience vote or binding support for same sex marriage will be decided at an upcoming labor party conference by elected delegates from the labor party and trade unions.

    • I’m an Australian and my undergraduate degree is in political science. I really disagree with your interpretation of our political context. The Australian Labor Party (ALP) may once have been a democratic socialist party, and certainly the far left of the party may still be characterised as socialist. However, the ALP we see in government today is centrist. Imo, it has been since the time of the Hawke and Keating governments (from 1982 to 1996, if memory serves), which instituted some major economic rationalist reforms to the economy, decreased union power, and instituted fees for university students. The ALP has moved to the right in a manner similar to British Labour’s shift to a third way / ‘New Labour’ ideology.

      Secondly and more importantly, the ALP in parliament do NOT have to vote in accordance with the policy that comes out of the ALP National Conference. We are having this debate right this minute, with Prime Minister Gillard attempting to sell uranium to India against National Conference policy that the ALP does not sell uranium to nations who haven’t ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Moreover, the role of the National Conference is to set Labor’s long-term policy goals, and not day-to-day policy.

      Finally but more importantly, I don’t think the use of the ‘It’s Time’ slogan is solely a reference to Whitlam. Yes, it’s important in understanding this ad for people to understand that in 1972 Australia elected a progressive government after more than 20 years of a conservative one, and that government was elected under the famous slogan ‘It’s Time’. There is definitely an allusion here. At the same time many Australians either don’t know or don’t care about what Gough Whitlam did in 1972, and ‘It’s Time’ has a universal appeal that is arguably one reason why viewers around the world are responding positively to this ad. I think they’re just speaking to the fact that most Australians support gay marriage but our politicians do not, and it’s time for our laws to change.

      Lastly, the organisation that made this have no affiliation with the ALP, they are generally far more progressive than the ALP, and their campaigns are large scale popular campaigns not an attempt to engage with the internal machinery of the ALP, complex beast that it is. I really don’t think they’re just trying to reach out to people from the ALP. I really think this is for the broader Australian population.

      I hope this post wasn’t totally incomprehensible to non-Australians ๐Ÿ˜›

        • I can’t see how an online video that was released alongside petition the ALP’s national conference about marriage equality in the week or two before said conference featuring an iconic Labor phrase is designed for anything other than lobbying the Labor party. Remember that the breakaway success of this ad is somewhat unexpected.

          • Yeah, I have thought about it a little more after sleeping (ha) and I agree my post above doesn’t adequately take into account the timing of this ad. It’s being released because the National Conference is going to debate this issue soon. That said, I don’t think the ad is designed for ALP members, at least not exclusively.

            I suspect Get Up! are intending to use the ad to draw attention to the issue before National Conference to bring pressure on the ALP, and the ‘It’s Time’ allusion speaks to that. But I think they are trying to do it by primarily by public campaigning, i.e. providing evidence popular support for gay marriage so that the ALP changes its stance.

        • “finally” and “more importantly” ๐Ÿ™‚ – the slogan “It’s Time” is very well known to leftward leaning Australians who are over 40 years of age. It reminds these Australians of a time when the Labor Party was much more progressive in areas of social policy.
          There is some evidence in the Australian polls that although there is strong support for marriage equality among the young this support drops off rapidly among the over 40s.
          This issue is being debated next week at the Australian Labor Party conference and and the use of the slogan “It’s Time” is a clever strategy to remind the “old guard” of the Australian Labor about what their party once stood for.

          • Yeah I do agree with you Kaimi, that would be my final and most important conclusion ๐Ÿ˜‰ but I think the ad and ‘it’s time’ slogan is designed to have a double meaning, one is a specific appeal to politically active minority for whom ‘it’s time’ still has emotional pulling power, and also a general appeal to most people saying that our society is ready for gay marriage. It’s one reason I like the add so much, it’s quite clever.

            What you said made me think of something else – that not all in Labor may actually be interested in the rhetoric of ‘it’s time’! I think that many in the right of the party aren’t too keen on Whitlamesque politics, even if they’d never publicly come out and diss Gough.

  3. This is so beautiful. One of the harder things I’ve dealt with since moving from Canada to Australia this past year is how, in comparison to the liberal-hippie enclave that is Vancouver Island, Australia seems to be about 20-30 years behind in a lot of attitudes — not just wrt gay rights, but racism and sexism (also I’ve been really homesick so.). Admittedly, I am living in WA, which is VERY backwards a lot, but the gay marriage thing, coming from a country that’s had legal gay marriage for 8 years now without falling into a pit of hell, is just mind boggling. Come on Australia, if you want me to raise kiddos here, get with the program! (because, you know, it’s all about me)

    Seriously, this made me cry big dinosaur tears. Watching it again.

    • I’ve noticed that WA isn’t as prejudiced as the east coast, but you’re right, we (Australia) are really behind in a lot of things. It’s embarrassing and depressing, but it’s slowly getting better. People are waking up.

      That said, just a disclaimer: Not all of us are racist, bigoted homophobes. XD

  4. Delightful ad! It makes me hopeful that gay people in the future won’t be cheated out of the ability to be publicly in love with someone the way I and others my age were.

  5. I feel like a bad Australian, as I’ve only just watched this, but I got incredible happy feelings at the end and almost shouted out “IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL” at the top of my lungs.

    Except that would have been awkward with my parents in the room.

    Still.

    I haven’t seen it on TV yet. I want to see it on TV, even if I shout every time.

  6. You guys! Man up! ……*sniffles* / *weeps*

    That was totally the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen ever.
    I just got done crying sad tears because Gary Speed died and now I’m all crying happy tears because the best thing to ever be made is so super sweet and I’m basically a wreck now so thanks alot beautiful Australians!!

  7. I’m probably gonna get some crap for this, and in the large scheme of things it might not even be prudent to make this kind of a comment, but a) I didn’t cry (and so I guess my life is not worth living? I also don’t think I even have a soul!)

    And b) I get who this ad is targeted towards and I appreciate the message and hope that it does reach the people who think queers are disgusting sinners… With that said, I think a lot of us probably want that (the monogamous life long heteronormative lifestyle), and a lot of us don’t. A lot of us ARE very different from your average hetero, especially if you mix in your average religious hetero and I like that about us queers…. I just wish we could fast forward to a time when we could say “Look, we’re very different, you and I, but we still deserve the same rights and responsibilities, cause we’re people, first and foremost.” And that people could get that message without the response being you’re a freak of nature sinner!

  8. Let me suggest something as a gay male that is antithetical here. I don’t believe in marriage equality because I don’t believe the government should be involved in marriage at all. All people – regardless of their sexual orientation should be free to unite and that union should be recognized for every legal purpose. I should not be different in terms of my legal status or in terms of the way people see me with my life partner than any other person. Marriage pits those of religious conviction against one another. What it says is that an institution borne of prejudice and inequity should be repeated. Further and more disturbingly marriage mixes church and state. When I apply for a civil license the state then should unite the two people and if they choose and wish to say their vows in a church ceremony that should be absolutely fine. I don’t want the state tell me I should marry because I don’t think the state should be in the business of mixing God and family.

    • I agree with you that the government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all: it’s an opinion I’ve held strongly for over 20 years. On the other hand, I also accept that being married is very important to many people both socially and emotionally, and I don’t feel it appropriate for me to impose my ideas / ideals on other people.

      Despite my personal opinion, I support marriage equality strongly, simply because everybody, whatever their race, gender or sexuality, should be free to make that choice for themselves. As long as a proportion of the population has the right to marry whoever they choose, every member of the population should be free to do so.

      Those of us who prefer the government to stay out of our business are free to choose not to marry, but it is only a free choice if we also have the option *to* marry.

      The idea that all ‘unions’ should be recognised brings difficulties of its own. I’ve read about people who live in States where common-law marriage exists, who are pretty bitter that they have ended up being labelled as (in effect) ‘married’ when they did not choose to be for their own reasons.

      We should each have the choice, not have a label imposed upon us, or a rite denied to us, en masse, as though we have a hive mind. And, for now, at least, marriage is the vehicle by which people make that conscious choice and obtain the privileges of a legally recognised partnership.

      The fact is that the various bits of paperwork unmarried people can obtain to achieve the ‘same’ rights and responsibilities as married partners are not only expensive, but also not always as efficacious.

      And, having said all that, both my partners are a lot more keen on the whole idea of marriage than I am (not because I am any less committed to them than they are to me) so perhaps that informs my opinion on this. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • “Those of us who prefer the government to stay out of our business are free to choose not to marry, but it is only a free choice if we also have the option *to* marry.”
        ^This!^

        I feel this exact way about everything, whether I want to participate in the activity or not is completely separate from whether I should be free to choose to participate in said activity.

    • The “civil” in “civil rights” refers to your relationship with the government. Marriage is, by nature, a civil matter (state-approved union without any kind of religious involvement is legit; a super-religious union without state approval is not, just ask the f#%ked-up cults that “marry” brothers to sisters, children to parents) – which is why the fundies should stay the hell out of it, because they’re messing with the separation of church and state.

      You can say all you want that the government should stay out of marriage, but the entire point of marriage is for the government to recognize your union. Without the government, it’s a ceremony – you can do that anyway, and people already do.

    • Marriage gives couples certain legal privileges they would not receive otherwise, which are listed here: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/marriage-rights-benefits-30190.html
      And civil unions are basically nothing more than commitment ceremonies under federal law.

      Sure, the government should keep its nose out of religious matters, but it obviously hasn’t. Opposing gay marriage isn’t doing much to keep church and state separate, but it is definitely aiding the religious groups who want to shape government policy. So instead of holding my breath, I’ll be fighting for marriage equality.

    • Marriage is and has always been, first and foremost, an economic arrangement. Now, that arrangement has changed a hell of a lot over the last few thousand years (I don’t think anyone’s selling their daughter for influence these days) but the rights we’re asking for with marriage equality are largely economic rights. I mean. Joint tax returns? Access to a partner’s health insurance? Inheritance rights?

  9. I have watched this video multiple times this weekend. I posted it on Facebook and it was reposted by some of my friends. I sent it to my mom–silence. ๐Ÿ™ It really sucks that this video is so powerful and, yet, cannot really change the minds of those whose minds don’t want to be changed.

  10. A fan posted this to our fan page and I totally choked up. I love it!
    While I’m but sure there is much that can be said or done to change the minds of determinedly hateful people, I do think this will move those people that are not so determined and don’t really think they know what they want to think about gay marriage.

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  11. Italy can only wish for its first anti-gay law… we are YEARS behind Australia… and they in turn YEARS behind other civilized democracies who have recognized gay marriage since the turn of the century.

    ad well done! hopefully it makes public tv

  12. Pingback: Viral Videos: It’s Time | Web 2.0 Trials and Tribulations

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