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Dietary warning: Candi's empty calories leave no room for Milk

by Jeremy Hooper

Candi-CushmanFocus on the Family's Candi Cushman has highlighted five key bullet points for why she claims to oppose SB 572, a California bill that would require the state's governor to proclaim May 22 of each year as Harvey Milk Day, as well as encourage public schools and educational institutions to conduct suitable commemorative exercises on the day. Candi's cited reasons:

- The bill "asks public schools to dedicate already limited classroom time to conducting 'commemorative exercises'

- "students asked to study and celebrate this political activist’s life, are also likely to become acquainted with his well-known promiscuity and long litany of partners, not to mention other destructive behaviors."

- "this legislation will likely pave the way for the Milk movie to be shown in many classrooms"

- It will "sexualize and politicize the school environment at taxpayers’ expense."

- "This bill is bad news for parents and students, and represents an irresponsible use of taxpayer money in the middle of an economic crisis"
Skewed Priorities in CA [FOF blog]

Okay, first off: The "limited time" argument is a complete and total red herring. Because unlike other days, this Harvey Milk commemoration would not be time off from school. It wouldn't be a state holiday, and there would be no lesson planning around it. It would merely be a day of "special significance." Other days that currently fall under this category are Day of the Teacher, John Muir Day, and California Poppy Day. Are these days currently wasting school time? NO! And neither would Harvey's.

The promiscuity argument? Yea, well -- that's as flawed as it is offensive. It should go without saying that a public figure's private life or sexual appetite is not something that school or government makes their business. History's dead heroes have closets that are teaming with secrets, skeletons, revelry, and/or certain behaviors that the religious right would publicly condemn. Candi Cushman is demonizing Harvey in this way for one reason and one reason only: Because he is gay. His "behaviors" would be classified as "destructive" even if he had settled down with one partner at a young age.

The Milk movie? Well, it's a powerful piece of cinema, so there would be merit in showing it. Any scenes that might be inappropriate for under-18 eyes could be skipped, just as generations of teachers have made a point of fast forwarding past Olivia Hussey's breasts whenever they show Zeffirelli's version of Romeo & Juliet. Or, for those who don't want to edit, they can instead show Brian Epstein's fantastic (and thoroughly PG) documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk. But again: None of this will be required in the school curriculum!

The "sexualize and politicize argument? We are talking about Harvey Milk the political figure who fought for the right of LGBT people to live 6A00D8341C503453Ef01156F2Fd663970C-Piwithout fear. That is who and what are being honored here. If you consider homosexuality to be a part of actuality (which it is) and consider self-acceptance to be thoroughly non-political (which it should be), then there is nothing in this day of significance that should sexualize/politicize anymore than days that commemorate those who fought for other people's freedoms.

Irresponsible use of money? HOW? WHERE? WHY? As far as we can tell (based on sponsor Mark Leno's own statements), there is no cost associated with this. And why should there be? Because whereas unchecked bias can cost gay kids EVERYTHING, this commemorative day can be done using only the currency of reasoned commitment.

The truth: Candi Cushman and company want to kill this day for the sole reason that it will further chip away at her side's own daily anti-LGBT dishonoring commemorations. Harvey Milk refused to be silent about the persecution that surrounded him. He refused to be told that his life should be lived in a closet. He refused to sit back and watch young gay kids or their allies to be made to feel wrong, different, or "immoral." So in short: He stood against everything that Focus on the Family holds dear! He and his legacy are thoroughly threatening to the anti-gay conservatives' own place in society. It is that realization on which they base their rage.

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Your thoughts

Rather than "Milk" which is an excellent movie, I would recommend "The Times of Harvey Milk" for students. An excellent documentary available on Hulu.


Posted by: Owen | Jul 22, 2009 10:27:07 AM

Sorry, just skimmed your post and didn't see your comment on The Times of Harvey Milk. Please remove that, and this comment.

Posted by: Owen | Jul 22, 2009 10:29:50 AM

I put two comments on the FRC blog and neither one appeared as of yet. Both were "awaiting moderation" and now they are gone. Anyone know how to save the page with the comments on them so that I can prove it.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Jul 22, 2009 12:15:23 PM

Alvin: Check out the twitter page of FOF's Gary Schneeberger for an "explanation" of why some of us have been shutout from the FOF blog. Of course he's working the "terms" lines, even though we have clearly demonstrated not to be in violation. And he is seriously comparing this decision to the NY Times not printing an editor's letter:


Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 22, 2009 12:18:03 PM

thanks jeremy.

for the record, in one comment, i asked a question as to why if focus on the family does not agree with hate crimes do they not support a removal of the hate crimes category of religion.

In the other comment, which has to do with this post, I said Anita Bryant claims that gays are recruiting children. I further asked do Focus on the Family consider her claims as a "traditional viewpoint about sexuality."

And by the way, I was very respectful and did not use derogatory language.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Jul 22, 2009 5:50:54 PM

"I was very respectful and did not use derogatory language."

Of course, Alvin. And you know I would not violate the terms either. But we violate the toughest unspoken rule: We challenge the disinformation that they need in order to stay afloat!

But like I told Gary: They are only making themselves look bad. For us, their non-approval is a stronger form of activism. I will continue to cap every last comment I make, and continue to show what they consider to be "out of line."

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jul 22, 2009 6:00:21 PM

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