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Media O'Ds on (R-DE) -- but why the relatively huge 'ex-gay' pass?

by Jeremy Hooper

Christine O'Donnell chatter is everywhere. Bill Maher is rolling out new clips every week, with a younger incarnation of the U.S. Senate nominee talking about witchcraft (she played around) or evolution (Darwin didn't even play a round). Elsewhere on the cable dial, folks like Rachel Maddow have gotten much mileage out of that old MTV clip with a twentysomething (R-DE) showing no love for self love. Other mainstream media pundits have made hay out of O'Donnell's implications regarding the Vince Foster murder, her views on stem cell research, her belief that pornography equates adultery, and a whole host of the conservative Castle-wrecker's views on other social issues. All are fair game. All have been picked apart.

But over the weekend, while stuck on a long-ish flight, yours truly took the opportunity to catch up on some of the dead tree media that'd been stacking up in my office to the point where A&E might consider the desk for a "Hoarders" episode. And while making my way through all of those weeklies and dailies and monthlies, I was first struck by just how much ink has been spilled on O'Donnell in the past few weeks. To say that the media has nationalized this one local election in a very small state would be like saying Lindsey Lohan has strayed just a tad from her squeaky clean Parent Trap image. In truth, O'D fears abound in both situations.

Though beyond just the sheer amount of coverage, the thing that struck me most in terms of this site's LGBT interests: How shockingly little play the GOP nominee's past "ex-gay" work has received in the mainstream media. It's gotten Screen Shot 2010-09-27 At 7.52.17 Amsome mention, sure. But in commentary after commentary, I came across writers hitting the same exact touchstones. There was the onanism. There were the spellbinding witch comments. And the pornography mentions were hardcore. But the "ex-gay" views, so prominently fleshed out in the online media streams in which I more typically swim, don't seem to rank even a quarter as highly in a large portion of the commentariat's minds as do those sexual matters that seem more sweeping. This comparative shut out echoed a taped piece I had seen on NBC's "Today" a few days after the Delaware primary, where the sole focus was on O'Donnell controversy, but where "gays can change" never ranked. The most logical presumption is that some in the mainstream channels of communication see the "ex-gay" stuff as a more limited, niche concern: A spark plug with gay readers, but less palatable for the 'ros.

Screen Shot 2010-09-27 At 8.37.00 AmBut here's the thing: Support for the "ex-gay" movement goes well beyond sexual orientation. To advocate for the modern "ex-gay" movement, the advocating voice must overlook the lock-solid opinion of all credible science and instead get in bed with far-right-created groups and personalities (links on O'Donnell's SALT ministries sent readers to groups like NARTH and personalities like Paul Cameron) who hope to change the script to meet their convenience rather than to write the script from the world that is conveniently at hand. To get behind the "ex-gay" movement at the level that Christine did -- which has been so wonderfully fleshed out on Maddow, online on sites like this one, in press releases from Wayne Besen's Truth Wins Out, and in long form on sites like The Daily Beast -- one has to aggressively push a uniquely dangerous form of deception and rejection. Standards that should be of interest, concern, or at least note to *anyone* looking into O'Donnell's record.

One thing I've always tried to do here on G-A-Y is to break LGBT matters out of the confinements that have limited the conversation, and instead show how this fight is really a HUMAN RIGHTS situation. Christine O'Donnell's candidacy provides a unique opportunity to do just that. The national spotlight couldn't be brighter. Her past commitment to "false sexual identities" could not be more evident. Doesn't this attempt to "change" both humans and scientific realities matter at least as much as whether or not the candidate has ever cast a spell? Because it certainly matters more to this writer. It likely matters more to Ellen Degeneres:


And it hopefully matters more to the Delaware public.

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