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Clinton Radio Ad Pushes Religious Freedom, Gay Marriage Ban

October 14, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a radio ad aimed at religious conservatives, the Clinton campaign is showcasing the president’s signature on a bill banning gay marriages in spite of earlier White House complaints that the issue amounted to ``gay baiting.″

The ad promotes Clinton’s work to protect religious freedom and says he wants ``a complete ban″ on late-term abortions ``except when the mother’s life is in danger or (she) faces severe health risks.″

It also refers to Clinton’s support of the Defense of Marriage Act, which the president signed into law last month to the dismay of homosexual rights advocates. The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group, urged the campaign to pull the ad off the air.

Clinton campaign spokesman Don Foley said the ad was a response to a Dole spot released last week, blaming Clinton for a national ``moral crisis.″ The ad was running on many of the roughly 70 Christian radio stations on which Dole advertised.

``Republicans went on the air last week with a brutal personal attack on the president and thought they could get away with it,″ Foley said. ``This will set the record straight.″

Clinton signed the law denying federal recognition of same-sex marriages early on a Saturday morning, minimizing news coverage. Clinton said he had long agreed with the principles in the bill, but hoped it wouldn’t be used to justify discrimination against gays.

White House spokesman Mike McCurry earlier had criticized Republicans for raising the issue. ``It is gay-baiting pure and simple,″ he said. ``It’s a classic use of wedge politics that are designed to provoke anxieties and fears.″

``Is this a debate or a piece of legislation that’s necessary?″ McCurry asked rhetorically. ``It’s hard to see how it is, and it’s clearly going to provoke some animosities.″

Nevertheless, the Clinton campaign in its radio ad lists Clinton’s signing of the Defense of Marriage Act as evidence that ``President Clinton has fought for our values and America is better for it.″

Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group supporting the GOP, said that with the ad, ``Clinton has flip-flopped on gay issues once again.″

Bob Dole’s campaign accused Clinton of hypocrisy.

``This is a president who signed the Defense of Marriage Act in the middle of the night so it wouldn’t be news, but now he does paid advertising to promote it,″ said Dole spokesman Gary Koops. ``This is a president who has never supported any restriction on abortion, but now 20-plus days before the election he does ads touting the fact that he now says he supports restrictions.″

Clinton supports broad abortion rights. In April, he vetoed a bill that would have banned so-called partial-birth abortions, drawing criticism from conservatives. While the bill would have allowed exceptions when a mother’s life was at risk, Clinton said he opposed it because it didn’t contain exceptions to protect her health.

The 60-second radio spot also promotes Clinton’s support for school uniforms, curfews, and a computer chip that would allow parents to block out violent television programs.

The Dole campaign last week released a radio ad targeted at Christian and social conservatives that paints Clinton as an extreme and dangerous liberal.

Dole’s ad said: ``America suffers from a moral crisis, a moral crisis. But the problem isn’t in your house. The problem is in the White House. Bill Clinton’s White House.″

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