Why Did The NFL And NBC Ban A Marriage Equality Ad From Running During The Super Bowl?

The group has been running 30-second public service announcements around the state of California to get the word out about marriage equality in the wake of the passage of Prop. 8. The ads typically feature a gay or lesbian couple and their children, emphasizing the commonalities between gay and straight families.

Yesterday, however,’s ad did not run on Los Angeles NBC affiliate KNBC. attempted to purchase a slot for one of its ads during the Super Bowl. On Friday, KNBC informed that the the NFL legal department had rejected the ad because they were banning all “advocacy” ads during the entire day of programming — from Road to the Super Bowl at 9:00 a.m. through the end of the game.

Watch the rejected ad, which features two married African-American men, Xavier and Michael, who are raising five children:

The problem with this situation is that the NFL and NBC did allow “advocacy” ads to air on KNBC yesterday. At approximately 9:09 a.m. (and again at 3:05 p.m.), an anti-steroids ad by the group ran. An anti-smoking ad by ran around 1:30 p.m. Watch these ads, which also both clearly fit into the “advocacy” category:

John Ireland,’s Project Organizer, responded:

We bought ads before, during and after the Super Bowl in ten markets across California. We planned this buy weeks in advance and heard late Friday that the NFL rejected our ads because they violate the NFL’s ‘no advocacy’ policy. I was truly stunned while watching the programming, to see that they had selectively blocked our ads, while allowing other advocacy ads to air. also booked ads in Bakersfield, Fresno-Visalia, Chico-Redding, Yuma-El Centro, Medford-Kalmath Falls, Reno, Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, San Diego, and Gilroy, CA. The group never received any objections from those stations and Ireland told ThinkProgress that he isn’t sure whether they ever ran the ad by the NFL.


ThinkProgress e-mailed Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL, who replied, “I don’t know anything about this and suggest you contact NBC, which sells the advertising for the Super Bowl telecast.” When we asked whether the NFL legal department refused to approve this ad, he said that there are “certain restrictions in our network television contracts” but again told us to contact NBC. Repeated inquiries to KNBC went unreturned.

Unfortunately, this was not the first time that one of’s ads was rejected. Los Angeles ABC affiliate KABC refused to air the PSA featuring Xavier and Michael because the content was “too controversial [because] many families will be watching.”


NBC also told that the network was not allowing political or advocacy ads, and therefore wouldn’t run a pro-life ad.