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Sutherland to pull misleading ad on anti-discrimination bill

Published January 31, 2014 11:37 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A conservative think tank is apologizing and will stop airing an ad opposing a bill that would ban employment and housing discrimination against gay and lesbian Utahns, acknowledging the spot was misleading.

The ad, produced by The Sutherland Institute, suggested that, if the bill passed, Brigham Young University would have to rent apartments to gay couples, regardless of the LDS school's honor code which would prohibit such an arrangement.

But SB100, sponsored by Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, specifically exempts housing covered by BYU's honor code.

Wednesday night, Paul Mero, the think tank's president, acknowledged it was inaccurate, but refused to withdraw the ad, arguing it was accurate when the ad was produced and Urquhart changed the bill.

In fact, the BYU exemption was in the bill Urquhart sponsored last year, as well as this year.

Mero acknowledged the mistake Thursday afternoon and said he asked stations to stop airing the ad. Some, he said, may need as many as three days to stop running the piece.

"I felt awful," Mero said in a blog post. "I don't claim to know everything about a lot of things, but I do pride myself in accuracy about what I do know. I felt sick – mostly for me – it's a pride thing. But we move on."