Metro Weekly

Massachusetts Trolls Conservative States With Tourism Campaign

Ad campaign takes subtle dig at Texas and Florida’s anti-LGBTQ laws by touting Bay State as an LGBTQ-inclusive place.

“Massachusetts for Us All” campaign billboard – Photo: Gov. Maura Healey, via Twitter.

In a dig at conservative states, Massachusetts has launched a tourism ad campaign touting the state as a better place for LGBTQ people to live, work, and spend their money. 

The campaign, titled “Massachusetts For Us All,” shows LGBTQ couples on billboards in Florida and Texas and seeks to portray the Bay State as a welcoming, diverse, and affirming environment for LGBTQ people.

“At a time when other states are misguidedly restricting LGBTQIA+ rights, we are proud to send the message that Massachusetts is a safe, welcoming and inclusive place for all,” Gov. Maura Healey, who was elected the state’s first out LGBTQ executive last fall, said in a statement.

“The ‘Massachusetts For Us All’ campaign sends a clear message that Massachusetts stands for freedom and civil rights,” added Healey. “To anyone considering where they want to live, raise a family, visit or build a business — we want you to join us here in Massachusetts.”

The campaign is intended to counter the push for laws restricting LGBTQ rights in more conservative states, especially in Florida and Texas, both of which have touted their relatively low tax burden and opposition to “woke” ideas in order to convince conservative-minded Americans to relocate there. 

By providing a message that portrays Massachusetts as a beacon of individual freedom and tolerance, organizers hope the campaign will encourage LGBTQ or more liberal-minded residents of so-called “red states” to visit and potentially even relocate to Massachusetts.

“We want the campaigns to remind and show visitors that, especially in other parts of the country that perhaps aren’t inclusive, we’re proud of our legacy here, whether it’s marriage equality or reproductive freedom, that we’re a welcoming place for everyone to visit,” Sarah Stanton, the commonwealth’s Undersecretary of Economic Strategies, told Metro Weekly.

“This campaign around ‘Massachusetts for all’ [is] not just for Pride month, but now is included as a part of our year long tourism effort,” she added. “We want to say to the rest of the country, if you want a place that’s going to fight for your freedoms and help you thrive, whether you’re here for a short time or a long time, it’s Massachusetts.”

“Massachusetts for Us All” campaign billboard, Photo: Gov. Maura Healey, via Twitter.

When asked why the campaign chose to focus on Florida and Texas, Stanton replied that “Texas and Florida are doing quite well economically, but they don’t share our values.” By comparison, Massachusetts has a “great” economy, per Stanton, as well as vibrant business, health care, education, and information technology sectors, and an inclusive environment that prizes diversity rather than seeking to suppress it.

“We wanted to highlight the stark difference between Massachusetts and Florida and to remind folks it is safe to come here,” Stanton said. 

”If you’re thinking of taking a vacation this summer, if you’re thinking about visiting one of our amazing historical amenities, our beaches, our parks, you, your family, your partner, your friends, you’re welcome here [and] warmly embraced here,” she added.

“If you are unhappy in the state that you’re in or you’re looking for a change or you want to be somewhere where your values are shared, and want a place to come to and to be safe and to raise a family, to visit, to go to college, to start a business. You name it, we want you here.”

Massachusetts is one of 11 states, along with the District of Columbia, that have passed “shield” laws aimed at protecting transgender youth’s ability to access gender-affirming treatments that have been outlawed in close to 20 Republican-led states.

The tourism ad campaign launched alongside Governor Healey’s address to the Irish Senate on the 30th anniversary of decriminalizing homosexuality in Ireland. In her speech, she highlighted the progress of both Ireland and the U.S. on LGBTQ rights and stressed the importance of unity over discrimination. 

“We share the belief that we must move forward together – in fact we can only succeed – if everyone has the opportunity to exercise their rights, be free from discrimination, reach their full potential, share their talents, and live fully as their true selves,” Healey said in her speech. “We must stand together now, not only to celebrate our progress, but to meet these challenges, rise to this moment, and show a better way forward.”

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