Tuesday night in Charlotte, the Democratic Party’s newfound bullishness on marriage equality was championed by speaker after speaker, while last week’s GOP headliners tended to downplay their position:

“As president, I will protect the sanctity of life,” [Romney said in his convention speech]. “I will honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America’s first liberty: the freedom of religion.” The remarks capped three nights of prime-time convention speeches in which top Romney surrogates subtly acknowledged the marriage equality issue in somewhat coded language. Vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan called Romney a “defender of marriage” in his speech Wednesday, while Ann Romney had said, “What Mitt and I have is a real marriage.” Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was more explicit at the podium, calling President Obama a “self-professed evangelical” who “supports changing the definition of marriage.”

So far the anti-marriage equality attack ads have been limited to small outside spending groups. Here is a billboard the Republican Union PAC is using to target Catholic voters in five battleground states:

RepublicanUnionPACbillboard

And here is a TV ad running in North Carolina this week from the Campaign for American Values, a small evangelical-run Super PAC which supports Romney:

But notice the difference between that ad and this one supporting the marriage equality push in Minnesota (bad actors vs. real people, production values, etc):

The Democrats might not be making big ads attacking Republicans for opposing marriage equality yet, but this is yet more evidence of a dramatically changing landscape, and enthusiasm gap, from even a year ago.

(Photo by Mark Segal)