Ed Cuyler, a rural Oklahoman with a Purple Heart, wants to tell his neighbors about marriage equality. That's the message of a new ad airing in the conservative state this week, as a lawsuit challenging Oklahoma's gay marriage ban makes its way through the courts. The ad, from Freedom Oklahoma, features Cuyler talking about his daughter, Deedra, and her partner, Amber. The couple live with Deedra's parents on a very Oklahoma ranch.
The intent, it seems, is to do some work on the one thing a court decision in favor of same-sex marriage can't do in the state: change popular opinion. As recently as 2012, just 35 percent of the state supported same-sex marriage. The ad uses some of the same phrases about values we're used to hearing in opposition to same-sex marriage, but with a reversed conclusion. "Here in Oklahoma, we value family," the ad begins. Cuyler goes on to say, "Only marriage means the ability to take care of your family," referencing his wish that his daughter will be able to do the same for hers, and that "as a veteran I know freedom means freedom for everyone." It is his all-American experience, Cuyler's ad asserts, along with his devotion to his family, the makes him an advocate for equal marriage.
Politico spotted the ad early Monday, and reported that Deedra is unable to add Amber to her health insurance plan from her job at a Goodyear factory, because Oklahoma bans recognition of same-sex unions. Ever since voters passed the ban in 2004, this is something the state has aggressively enforced. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin even fought federal directives to open up military benefits to same-sex couples in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision against a part of the Defense of Marriage Act. Issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple in the state is a misdemeanor.