Gay Rights Emerge as Early Issue for Obama Camp Online

The Obama campaign is using digital ads and video to message directly to gay voters and supporters of gay rights. Throughout the early election season, the Obama campaign’s web videos have been fixated on rousing the President’s supporter base into volunteer action. But when it comes to equal rights for gays and lesbians, Obama for America is making an exception with its spotlight on related issues in select online advertising and video messages.

Today, the day the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” went into effect, OFA released a video lasting over five minutes that tells the story of U.S. military vets and their previous struggles under the DADT rule.

DADT is “a field full of landmines,” says one young veteran featured in the video, which has been viewed over 22,500 times on YouTube since around midnight September 19. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is History. Say You’ll Join This Movement Now,” states an overlay ad on the YouTube video linking to a sign up page on the BarackObama.com campaign site.

Until now, nearly all of OFA’s produced 2012 campaign videos have been geared towards rallying the base by keeping die-hard supporters up to speed on the organizing strategy, and simply inspiring them to go out and canvass on behalf of Obama. Outliers include a video about how Wall Street reform is working and another on the debt ceiling agreement.

Indeed, in public appearances and elsewhere, Obama and his administration seem laser focused on getting his jobs bill passed; however, the messaging on issues that are important to gay and lesbian voters is indicative of the campaign’s plans to target niche supporter groups through digital media. Although job growth and the economy are expected to be key issues driving the upcoming election, gay marriage could spark voter activism on both sides across the country as states add marriage equality propositions to the 2012 ballot. North Carolina, a significant swing state, already has.

The campaign is also taking aim at Facebook users with a message focused on the President’s support of repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. “Stand for Equal Rights,” declare the ads seen today and in recent weeks. “Repeal the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. Join President Obama now!” The ads appear to be targeted to people who like left-leaning and liberal groups on Facebook, including gay rights related groups.

“The President has certified the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”…. But the fight for equal rights goes on,” states the ad landing page. “President Obama has called for the full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act – a law that has been discriminating against same-sex couples for almost 15 years.”

Though these are among the only issue-oriented ads seen from the Obama campaign so far this election cycle, the immediate goal is the same as that of other OFA efforts: to freshen and build the list of supporters through online petitions and sign up forms.

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