Two television political adertisements sponsored by supporters of presidential candidate Ronald Reagan that depict President Carter as a gay rights advocate drew fire yesterday from Carter campaign organizers and national and local gay rights leaders. They criticized the ads as "gross distortions that play to people's fears."
The two 30-second spots were produced by the Miami-based Long Advertising Company, and paid for by the Christian Voice Moral Government Fund. Boths spots attack Carter and the Democratic Party platform, which includes a plank that sanctions the right of all individuals, regardless of color, religion, origin or sexual preference to be free from discrimination.
Gay rights leaders said they were upset because the ads, which began running yesterday in seven cities and will continue until Nov. 3, portrayed homosexuals in a negative way and misinterpreted national gay rights efforts.
One of the ads shows a group of homosexuals in bizarre costumes marching in a carnival parade in San Francisco, and men kissing in a park. A somber-voiced narrator reads: "Militant homosexuals parade in San Francisco, flaunting their life style. Flexing their political muscle, they elect a mayor . . . Now the march has reached Washington. And president Carter's platform carries his pledge to cater to homosexual demands. . . . Carter advocates acceptance of homosexuality. Ronald Reagan stands for the traditional American family."
The second ads depicts a woman wearing eyeglasses and a cardigan sweater and sitting in a lawn chair next to a wood frame house. She looks into the camera and says: "As a Christian mother, I want my children to be able to pray in school. I don't want them being taught that abortion and homosexuality are perfectly all right.
"I was very sorry to learn that President Carter disagrees with me on all of these issues," the woman says. "Because of this, I'm duty bound as a Christian and a mother to vote for Ronald Reagan, a man that will protect my family's values."
Gary Jarmin, national director of Christians for Reagan, and also a board member of the Moral Government Fund and a spokesman for Christian Voice, a conservative Christian political action group, said the ads will run on stations in key southern states and in southern Ohio where there is a large concentration of fundamentalist and evangelical Christian voters. The ads will not be shown in the Washington area, but parts were shown here on national network news programs.
"We decided it was necessary to run these ads because our information indicates that the vast majority of evangelical Christians are totally unaware of President Carter's support for homosexual rights," Jarmin said. ". . . We believe that there is no issue which will cause evangelicals to defect from Carter more than this one."
Yesterday, a Reagan spokesman said the Reagan campaign had nothing to do with the ads or the group that sponsored them. "We don't take a position on what they do. We're completely separate and don't have imput with these people," said John Roberts.
Anne Wexler, an assistant to President Carter, characterized the political ads as a "typical device pitting one group against another that we deplore. They used an independent committee to sponsor the ads. Its a fine device to keep their own hands clean while their supporters do unsavory things."
In Washington and New York, gay community leaders voiced outrage.
"It's the same effort of the militant evangelicals to impose their beliefs on everybody," said Frankin Kameny, active in both D.C. and national gay righs issues. "If they succeed, it will mark the death of this nation because what they are trying to do is directly violative of the fundamental principles of personal freedoms and the unalienable rights of the pursuit of happiness upn which this nation was founded."
Charles Brydon, codirector of the National Gay Task Force in New York, said gay groups in the cities where the ads are being shown will be asked to mobilize and join with religious leaders who don't agree with the fundamentalist groups to condemn the ads.