The television ad shows snow-dusted mountains with wind-swept pines, an American flag, downtown Cody, pickups and a statue of a rifle-toting man on horseback.
Then the camera focuses on a well-known Wyoming politician, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson.
“I’m a Republican and the party’s basic core is government out of your life and the right to be left alone,” Simpson says to the camera. “Whether you’re gay or lesbian or straight, if you love someone and you want to marry them, marry them.”
The 30-second message is clear: Western values can align with same-sex marriage. The ad, paid for by New York-based Freedom to Marry, will play on local television in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah and national cable networks such as CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, said Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry.
On Thursday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear a same-sex marriage case from Utah. A Salt Lake City judge ruled the state's gay marriage ban was unconstitutional. Wyoming and Colorado are also part of the 10th Circuit, and depending on how broadly the Denver-based appeals court rules, the two states could also be affected by the decision, Wolfson said.
Simpson and a handful of state Republican lawmakers recently joined with 16 other Western politicians to sign a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of gay marriage.
“We want to continue the momentum and underscore the continued bipartisan support, the strong values and freedom of dignity and respect, that are making the case for the freedom to marry,” Wolfson said.
The gay marriage debate began in politically liberal or moderate states. It has now moved to conservative states like Wyoming. Polls show an increasing number of Westerners support same-sex marriage, Wolfson said.
“That’s because people have had the time to talk and think it through,” he said. “They know gay people in their community.”
The ad was shot last week, Wolfson said.
During the commercial, a black-and-white picture appears. It shows a young Simpson with his wife, Ann, who is wearing a dress and veil. In June, they’ll celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
“I’ve had a wonderful married life,” Simpson said. “Why shouldn’t somebody else have the joy of marriage? Live and let live. It’s very simple.”
“I think it can also send a message across the country, if Wyoming is ready for this, why wouldn’t the rest of the country be ready for this?” he said.
Simpson, during an interview from his Cody home, said Freedom to Marry asked him to do the advertisement. He agreed because he felt strongly about the issue.
“We’re all God’s children,” he said. “We’re all human beings.”