It’s that time of year again in Pennsylvania. Rather than ads for vacations or the newest deal of car insurance, your television programs are now sandwiched between political ads of all shapes and sizes. The most prolific this cycle are about the U.S. Senate race between John Fetterman and Dr. Oz. They’re so frequent, at this point, that the number of houses Dr. Oz owns and the reason for John Fetterman’s tattoos have been hammered into our brains.
But the senate isn’t the only important election at play this November. We’ve got a governor’s race between Democrat Josh Shapiro and Republican Doug Mastriano that will determine the direction of the commonwealth for years to come. And there’s one commercial that is, actually, both illuminative, important, and possibly even historic.
The ad begins with a voiceover — “Texas had big plans to attract tech jobs; their anti-abortion law ruined it. North Carolina’s anti-gay laws cost the state thousands of jobs” — coupled with onscreen headlines about workers avoiding Texas and PayPal abandoning plans for a North Carolina facility.
Then the screen cuts to a video of Republican Candidate Doug Mastriano with bold letters underneath:
FEWER LGBTQ RIGHTS
The clip shifts to Mastriano’s own words, when he said “My body, my choice is ridiculous nonsense,” and when he answered “Absolutely not” in response to whether gay marriage should be legal.
Then the voiceover returns, with “Now Pennsylvania companies have made it clear: Mastriano’s plan will cost Pennsylvania jobs,” before ending with a declarative note: “Doug Mastriano. Too risky for Pennsylvania.”
If you hadn’t guessed, the ad was paid for by Shapiro for Pennsylvania, and it showcases not only how dangerous Mastriano’s views are on abortion and LGBTQ rights, but how he will cause Pennsylvania to lose jobs because of them.
There’s a lot to glean from this ad, and not just about Mastriano being dangerous. We’ve seen ads that tout a candidate’s support of the LGBTQ community and same-sex marriage. (Most recently, Shapiro’s own ads have highlighted his tremendous support and allyship.) And we’ve seen ads that highlight a candidate’s homophobia as a reason to not support them. But it’s rare to see an ad that shows a candidate’s views on LGBTQ community and filters them through an economic lens.
It’s not just that Doug Mastriano is against LGBTQ people, their relationships and their marriages; it’s that Mastriano’s views have economic ramifications for all Pennsylvanians, and not just LGBTQ ones. If Mastriano wins the governorship and Pennsylvania becomes as anti-LGBTQ as North Carolina or Florida, jobs will leave the state because companies won’t want to be here. The ad poses an existential question to voters: Which do you care more about: your community having jobs, or gay marriage being illegal? The Shapiro campaign is banking, smartly, that a majority of Pennsylvanians would say they care more about having jobs.
The commercial also shows something very important about the LGBTQ community: we’ve become visible enough, and our equality has become important enough, that companies will move their jobs and events to places that support our basic rights. Let’s repeat that, but in a different way: companies will take jobs away from states that are anti-LGBTQ. States that pass anti-LGBTQ laws will lose money and their citizens will lose livelihoods. If you do something stupid, you will face the consequences.
The reason that our community has become large enough and powerful enough to warrant these basic showcases of decency is that more and more people are coming out in all areas of life. You have people in corporations making CEOs pay attention. You have people in politics making legislators pay attention. You have teachers in schools making school boards pay attention. You have people in communities making their neighbors pay attention. LGBTQ people exist, and all they want, all we want, is to be treated equitably.
Through all of that work, we are helping people understand that supporting the LGBTQ community is about decency and common sense. And anybody who has ever held a job knows: if you don’t have decency and common sense, nobody will want to work with you.
Doug Mastriano has neither decency nor common sense. If he’s elected to lead Pennsylvania, I think you know what’ll happen next.