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05/18/2011

When they say they want to 'change'/'save' us....

by Jeremy Hooper

....believe them!

If I had to track the biggest frustration I see with our modern "culture war" conversation, I'd probably hone in on the mainstream media and larger public's tendency to ignore the larger rhetoric that the "protect marriage" community has put on the public record. No matter how hard those of us see this stuff up close try to connect the dots for those who don't fine-too-comb this debate, there tends to a massive mental block that exalts blinders at the expense of reality.

Screen Shot 2011-05-18 At 11.25.07 AmIn Maine, the co-head of the campaign to "protect marriage" in the state posted all kinds of really extreme "ex-gay" videos to his YouTube channel. I tried so hard to get that message out there. To make the local media see how far beyond marriage Bob Emrich wants to take his mission. To make the public see how willing the same-sex marriage opponents are to overlook science. To connect the overreaching dots. It didn't take.

Yesterday in North Carolina, there was a massive "protect marriage" rally. I dug up eleven videos of that rally's organizer, Rev. Ron Baity, preaching against homosexuality itself in every crude way imaginable. The endgame, once again: To "save" (i.e. "convert") the nauseating (his word) gays. I've contacted local media, and had a few bites. But so far, the local coverage continues to make this a two-sided, equally-merited, "agree to disagree" conversation that begins and ends at marriage. When it doesn't end there, at least not for our organized opponents.

Or what about Maggie Gallagher herself? She gets to testify before Congress, write a syndicated column, pundit her way onto cable news, and retain the title of a conservative "marriage warrior." But in fact, Maggie has told gays that they "can always control their behavior" -- "behavior" she 201105181123admits she considers "unfortunate." She once suggested of President Bush, via her nationally syndicated column, that "ex-gay" therapy deserves more research dollars. She admitted that she considers homosexuality to be "at a minimum, a sexual dysfunction much as impotence or infertility," and "like infertility...a sexual disability preventing certain individuals from participating in the normal reproductive patterns of the human species." And while speaking to her base on Catholic radio, she said that both gays and their straight supporters are "committing several different kinds of very serious sins." THAT GOES WAY BEYOND THE CIVIL MARRIAGE CONVERSATION!

Or what about this weekend's rally in the Bronx? Kudos to New York magazine and a few other MSM outlets for picking up the fact -- THE FACT! -- that preachers preached about gays being "worthy to death"; that a senator's wife said gays are an "abomination" who are "enchained and enslaved by homosexuality"; that a speaker condemned Ricky Martin for helping open "the gates of Hell"; that another person of faith said gays are "breaking traditional marriage," which will bring "judgement and wrath of God," citing Sodom & Gomorrah and the fall of the Roman empire as instructive examples; etc. etc. (see it all here). Though largely, the New York MSM focused only on the "heartwarming" story of a senator and his lesbian granddaughter who can "agree to disagree" (even though said senator bans people who disagree with him).

This is not okay! No other political fight is handled in this way. These folks are admitting that their intended oppression/suppression goes well beyond even the stated civil rights fight. Yet even respected media still lets them work talking points and canards. Not okay.

Yesterday on his Sirius/XM radio show, my friend Michelangelo Signorile, while addressing the Bronx rally, said something very insightful. He said [paraphrase] that he doesn't think most people actually think of these words that come from our opposition's mouths as being real. As being true goals. As being the actual roadmap for their movement. As being an actual call to arms. Michelangelo was saying that to most people, this just sounds like disconnected preaching. Something that most everyday people dismiss to the "Oh, that's religion for you" file within their long-inundated-with-religious-right-fervor brains.

I think Michelangelo is spot on, and I would add: Our movement is also guilty of letting this happen. We are so wont to write off people who say these kinds of things, calling them "fringe" or "extremists" or whatever. But the people mentioned above are not on the outside of the "protect marriage" fight looking in: They are leading it! And they are beating us!

This must stop and we must make it stop. It is not unfair or biased for the media to note the actual words that these actual people put on the actual record! In fact, I would argue that it is downright negligent for the MSM not to note this stuff. And if we are wise, as an organized movement, we will invest a little more time in knowing this organized movement, and making sure everyone else knows them as well. It's easy to think of this stuff as out-of-touch, anti-scientific, and therefore not worth the time. But in this case, easy is not smart. Easy is not the way to remove the blinders that keep a potentially movable middle from seeing the clear difference between our fight for civil rights and the opposition's reliably overarching quest for human stigmatization (at best).

***

*As we head into the 2012 ballot fight in Minnesota, I urge everyone advocating for equality to note the abundance of "ex-gay" advocacy and gay demonization in general that the chief lobby group in the state, the Minnesota Family Council (working with NOM under the name MN For Marriage), has put on the record. Here is one post with multiple backlinks to others (at bottom): Minn. For Marriage's chief lobbyist: Gays 'live in conflict with how we are made' [G-A-Y]

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