Ellen buys $100,000 TV time to support gay marriage

LOS ANGELES Fri Oct 17, 2008 11:39pm EDT

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi (R) look for a seat at the 35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California June 20, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi (R) look for a seat at the 35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California June 20, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Ellen DeGeneres has bought $100,000 of television airtime to urge Californians to vote to save the right to gay marriage in a November ballot, campaign organizers said on Friday.

Claiming that opponents of gay marriage are twisting the truth and trying to scare voters, DeGeneres will appeal in a television ad to vote for equality, compassion and fairness.

The chat show host and comic actress wed her long time partner, actress Portia de Rossi, in August in the most high-profile same-sex marriage since such unions were declared legal in California in May.

Her message will be broadcast on television as celebrities step up the fight to defeat Proposition 8 on the November4 state ballot that seeks to define marriage under the California constitution as only between a man and a woman.

"Hi, I'm Ellen DeGeneres. I got to do something this year I never thought I'd ever be able to do: I got married. It was the happiest day of my life. There are people out there raising millions of dollars to try and take that right away from me.

"You've seen their ads on TV. They're twisting the truth, and they're trying to scare you. I believe in fairness. I believe in compassion. I believe in equality for all people. Proposition 8 does not. Please, please, vote no on Prop. 8," the actress says in her appeal.

In recent weeks, opinion polls have shown a swing in the number of Californians who oppose same-sex marriage. Their campaign has raised $25.4 million, compared with $15.8 million for those who wish to maintain the right to gay marriage.

Opponents of same-sex marriage have stepped up their television advertising, warning that children will be taught about gay marriage in elementary schools.

Gay-marriage supporters call that argument misleading.

Singers Melissa Etheridge, who plans to marry partner Tammy Lynn Michaels, and Mary J. Blige will perform at a $25,000-a-plate dinner in Beverly Hills on Tuesday in support of the "No" campaign.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)