A series of simple billboards featuring a gay couple and the message “Someone you know is in love” is causing controversy in central NY. The goal of the campaign is to reach gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people living in rural areas and encourage them to access the many health services Planned Parenthood offers through its Out For Health program.
But as Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) pushes for marriage equality, opponents are seeing the ad as a tax-funded endorsement of same-sex marriage. While many have written to Planned Parenthood that they disapprove of the “homosexual lifestyle” (revealing the overt homophobia often found in conservative areas), state senator Thomas O’Mara (R) has publicly condemned the ads as a misuse of grant funding:
I object to this message that seems to be in support of same-sex marriage and using taxpayer dollars to support that political agenda.
The grant from the New York State department of health aims to address health disparities in the LGBT community, as those documented by numerous recent studies. Out For Health identifies some of these disparities on its website, including access to healthcare, mental health, smoking and substance abuse, and partner violence. Planned Parenthood, of course, also offers testing and treatment services for various sexually transmitted diseases, some of which disproportionately affect the LGBT community.
Given the choice between opposing marriage equality and promoting the health and welfare of his constituents, O’Mara seems to be suggesting opposing same-sex marriage is the higher priority.