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Why you won't see me covering some of the usual suspects going forward

by Jeremy Hooper

Regular readers know that I have always covered just about anyone who fights against LGBT rights. When I started this site ten years (and far fewer grey hairs) ago, there was good reason for this. Back then there was very little daylight between "fringe" opposition and the mainstream movement fighting against us. Even the most visible leaders on the other side would say heinous things about us and get away with it. In fact, they seemed to get bigger profiles the more they'd denounce us, our families, and our rights. There was little need for someone like me to be selective. I was fighting against the whole lot of it.

Things have changed, to say the least. The anti-LGBT movement is filled with voices whose years of bad public engagement has caught up with them. Because America is now largely in support of LGBT rights, the folks within the mainstream have to be very careful about how they engage and the ones who are not willing to play nice have all but lost their political resonance. Even James Dobson, who I vividly remember watching on NBC News' coverage of George W. Bush's second inauguration on one of the first days that I started writing this site, is now confined to an obscure radio show that rarely even makes it way to Media Matters of Right Wing Watch. There are many more who fit this bill.

I'm talking about Peter LaBarbera. About Matt Barber. About Bryan Fischer. About Janet Folger, Robert Oscar Lopez, Linda Harvey, or the team behind MassResistance. I'm talking about those state leaders who have lost their own state's fights. I'm talking about the YouTube commentators and random radio hosts who own green screens and microphones but who hold no cards. I'm talking about the people who will never be invited to speak at any conservative conference that holds any kind of influence. I'm talking about the people who are always hidden whenever high profile cases come around. I'm talking about the people who 2016 GOP candidates know are a liability to their electability. You get the picture.

I gave these kinds of commentators' a decade's chance to make a credible case. I've always given them the public attention that they seem to want. I've listened to them more than even people with their own movement have, and I've eagerly highlighted their words so that more people could see them. I fully stand by this approach since we needed to show the American public just how bad some of this rhetoric truly is. I sincerely believe that those of us who did this kind of work during this crucial time in the histories of both the LGBT equality movement and the internet's political influence made a huge impact on this debate. We shed light in a way that cut through the spin that so fully dominated and duped back in the early aughts. When things were looking so bad for us politically, we didn't run and hide from what they were saying—we put their words on full blast and let the American public weigh those words against the sincerity of a minority population that simply wanted a fair shake at this thing we call life.

While the other side tried everything they could to shut us down (because they knew how effective we were), we persisted. And we won. Or at least we are on clear track to win everything we deserve. By highlighting all of this rhetoric, we marginalized much of it. Nowadays, even an outlet like Fox News can't stand by some of these most overheated commentators' rhetoric. The other side recognizes its clear liabilities (even if they'd never admit it and would instead blame us for supposedly "shutting down speech").

This trajectory is itself a major statement about where we are, how far above our opposition we have prevailed, and where America is going. And now, in 2015, I believe that the biggest statement I can make is to stop paying mind to those voices whose bark is virtually bite-less. It's really not even so much that I'm changing my focus or altering my mission statement. It's more like I'm calling an end to one phase of this conversation and moving on to a next. In phase one, I gave these activists every opportunity to prove some reason to see them as worthy opponents with worthwhile opinions that were grounded in some compelling interests. In all cases, without fail, they just continued to prove that their public engagement is rooted in animus. And animus, as court after court has reminded us, is not a valid reason for denying civil rights. Nor is it a credible qualification for a political commentator.

So who is still relevant? Well, someone like Tony Perkins still is since he still gets himself on Fox News' highest rated shows and still has the ear of major GOP leaders. Anyone elected to Congress still matters. All 2016 presidential candidates are in play. Major faith leaders still matter. People whose listening and viewing audiences are national in scope will still get my attention. Someone like Maggie Gallagher still matters because of her formative role in the fight. There are even times when some of these other activists might get back in the mix via an unforeseen development. But for the most part, I will be confining my work to only those people who have some sort of platform, connectivity, influence, audience, etc. I trust that most of you will understand who I believe to be in and who I believe have, per their own political petard, put themselves on the outs.

I just don't think I need to continue making the case that naked animus exists. We know it does. We get it. We also know that it will likely continue. But who cares? I mean, we care in the sense that animus can truly harm individuals on a personal level, and that is something I certainly intend to keep driving home. But in terms of my own public engagement and what will earn my very limited time and often exhausted focus, I don't really care anymore what random-Joe-who-used-to-work-for-the-American-Family-Association-but-now-has-little-more-than-a-Twitter-account thinks about me, my life, my family, or my rights. I lent them my ear for a very long time; I'm done. Since it's never been about the person for me and always about the work, I don't wish any of them any personal ill will or extraordinary burdens in life. They just don't get any more space within my head; they don't get any more space within my column inches.

Phase One is done. And now, my friends, we march forward to rebuild a better, stronger, more positive America. I fill freer, fresher, and more driven than I have in years.

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