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WGME invites us to be wall flies; we don't so much enjoy the buzz

by Jeremy Hooper

Today, Maine's WGME news began posting videos of their morning meetings to Facebook. And you know what? We're super glad that they did, so that maybe we can stop this potentially negligent story from happening before it ever starts:

*Video source here: Morning Meeting 10/20 [Facebook]

Okay, first off: Let's get the document out so that we can all look at it together. Here it is, in full:

Okay, class: So the first thing we need to talk about is the "alternative lifestyle" thing. If you search this document, you will find that term used nowhere within. That's because it is an offensive, outdated descriptor. We don't use it. Journalists don't use it. LGBT people are not the "alternative" to anything -- we are part of the spectrum of normalcy. So as soon as we heard that phrasing, our "Ruh Roh" ears started listening a little more closely. Especially when this man (producer? executive producer?) started injecting "lifestyle" terminology in specific places (the 2:16 mark) even when the text doesn't at all say it (page 11, line 1a):

Screen Shot 2009-10-20 At 10.24.19 Pm-2

So yea -- the "alternative lifestyles" shtick would be enough for a post. But unfortunately, there is a much bigger issue here that threatens gays on more than just a linguistic level. That is: The overall story that this gentleman is presenting, which is based on the completely flawed premise that this 2008 document in ANY WAY lends credence to the claims that LD 1020 will lead to marriage being taught in schools. It's a story he seems eager to tell, yet one that would do a major disservice to both Mainers and WGME's credibility if it were to run in the way that he's presenting it here!

The truth, of course: This particular document is not even a LITTLE BIT about marriage. In fact, the word "marriage" is only used twice, neither time in terms of curriculum. The document is wholly about harassment and the special concerns of LGBTQ students. These are concerns that are (or at least should be) in every state in the nation, and concerns that we hopefully ALL want to address. Studies that examine this kind of harassment have been going on for decade, making great strides in fleshing out the national problem of anti-LGBTQ bullying, and in developing ways we can more fully addressing the same. This is just another such document.

Also, this document was researched and written before marriage equality was ever on the table. And guess what? It will still be used as a guideline even if Question One should pass! If anything, this should belie the "Yes on 1" campaigns claims that LD 1020 will lead to certain teachings, not embolden the same! Because this sort of thing proves that governments need not have a marriage law to examine the lives LGBTQ people. They need only to have LGBTQ people! And we aren't going anywhere, regardless of what happens on November 3!!

Now, is it possible that WGME would uncover all this on their own as soon as they started looking into it? Absolutely. This is one man's pitch, surely one of the many off-targeted ones that get bandied around any American newsroom on any given day. And considering we can't find any story like this on WGME's site, we're guessing this "alternative lifestyles" story never went anywhere. So that's good.

But to us, the fact that this conversation could even happen in WGME's meeting shows how much more work we have to do to negate the "yes on 1" camp's untruths. To those of us who understand this kind of thing, the school claims can seem almost too silly to even dignify. But here we have a team of journalists who are presumably intimately aware of Question One, and yet nobody in the room seemed to have any thoughts or concerns about something that seems so obvious? Well, that's disheartening. It is also exactly what "yes on 1" wanted when they began their campaigns of misinformation. They wanted local journalists looking for these kinds of "gotcha" moments, so as to put the "no" campaign on the defense. They wanted more people wasting time on these questions rather than on their side's unfair, discriminatory attempts to roll back a fair-minded legislative action via majority tyranny. They wanted gay families to be seen as "alternative" and gay lives to be seen as "lifestyles." They wanted our civil rights, regardless of what they had to say to get them. They wanted WGME and every other outlets to buy their hook, their line, and their stinker.

We have to want it more.

**UPDATE: The man in the video has been identified. it is news director Robb Atkinson.

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Your thoughts

Have you contacted them to ask?

Posted by: Baron Scarpia | Oct 21, 2009 5:40:59 AM

Yes, Baron. I'll let you know anything I find out.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Oct 21, 2009 9:14:37 AM

It is absolutely disgusting that he reads a report addressing how to quell anti-gay bullying, reads statistics about said bullying, and then marks it up to some sort of evil gay agenda. Sickening.

Posted by: PINGAS | Oct 21, 2009 7:08:40 PM

WGME is a disappointment: http://www.wgme.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wgme_vid_1020.shtml

Posted by: LdChino | Oct 22, 2009 7:29:55 AM

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