Gay Marriage Billboard Placement Near Catholic Church Unintentional
A censored billboard supporting gay marriage was not put across the street from St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church on purpose, the advertiser said Thursday.
A censored billboard supporting gay marriage was not put across the street from a Catholic church on purpose, the advertiser said Thursday.
Greg Hodge, managing director of beautifulpeople.com, launched a national advertising campaign to bring awareness to the dating website's new gay and lesbian version, and said he had no idea the controversial billboard is adjacent to St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church.
“It’s a clean billboard, everybody’s dressed,” Hodge said. “In my eyes it would not be offensive. I would not be concerned if my child looked at a billboard like that.”
Gay marriage goes against Catholic teaching.
The 30-year parish sees an estimated 2,000 churchgoers each Sunday, according to attendance figures reported in St. Michael’s bulletins.
The church's most recent bulletin included a Republican primary election guide from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops. It listed all candidates potentially representing the Diocese of St. Petersburg and where they stood on seven fundamental Catholic issues including defining marriage as "the exclusive union of one man and one woman."
A call to St. Michael regarding the billboard was not returned Thursday.
Hodge said he would like to put more of the ads up across the country, but will be more careful when they buy the space.
The original controversial advertising campaign depicted likenesses of presidential candidate Mitt Romney betrothed to real estate mogul Donald Trump with President Barack Obama as the officiant.
However, in the billboard censored by Clear Channel, the actors appear as white cutouts. A press release from beautifulpeople.com claimed the censorship is politically motivated.
Tampa is the host city of the Republican National Convention Aug. 27-30. The billboard is up through August.
A similar ad bought on Clear Channel billboards in Los Angeles was also censored.
Jim Cullinan, the vice president of communication with Clear Channel, said the advertisement was censored because beautifulpeople.com did not get rights from the people portrayed by the actors in the political satire, not because it supports gay marriage.
“I guess Clear Channel can refuse what they like,” Hodge said. “It’s just the reasoning given is a little bit weak from our perspective.”
Hodge said he is not planning a lawsuit against Clear Channel and said the advertising is meant as political satire.
“We’ve had a reasonable response,” Hodge said. “Nothing like what we would have had with the original billboard content up. We certainly paid a price there.”