Gay Marriage | Minnesota | News

Straight Catholic Republican Couple Speaks Out in Ad Opposing Minnesota's Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment: VIDEO

Mnunited

The first ad from Minnesotans United for All Families, the group opposing Minnesota's anti-gay marriage amendment, has begun running in the Twin Cities and Duluth.

MNIt features Kim and John, Catholic Republicans from Savage, Minnesota, who talk about having their minds changed about gay families by a new couple who moved into their neighborhood, and their decision to vote "no" on the anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot this November.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Feed This post's comment feed

Comments

  1. Thank you but make sure they are not fame whores

    Posted by: Pommie | Sep 18, 2012 1:09:46 PM


  2. Why I'm not sending MN any money...

    because i have yet to see the slightest evidence, based upon their campaign, that gay people exist, want to get married, and can speak for themselves.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Sep 18, 2012 1:16:51 PM


  3. Nice to see some real Christians for a change!!!!

    Posted by: Michael | Sep 18, 2012 1:21:48 PM


  4. thing is, Ben, the sad reality is that to anti-gay straight people their hearts and minds are often best-changed by non-bigoted straight people.

    there's a reason folks like my parents do the outreach that they do - as a long-time-married heterosexual couple who raised two children, they "appeal" to people who still have that baseless knee-jerk reaction to "the gays". It's one of those things we have to deal with and work with.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Sep 18, 2012 1:25:12 PM


  5. Kiwi-- i know that's the argument, and i certainly see a place for it.

    A place.

    But the approach has failed every single time it has been tried, with one exception--
    Washington state two years ago-- and that barely made it. If it EVER worked, I would be able to consider the idea that it MIGHT work. But it hasn't.

    As long as we are kept in the closet, as long as heteroseuxals who are afraid of gay people are kept from seeing us, I believe we will continue to lose.

    I've been arguing this point for 20 years, and i have yet to see any evidence htat I'm wrong.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Sep 18, 2012 1:41:51 PM


  6. I don't understand your criticism, Ben. Or rather, why do you disagree with their tactics? I take it you presume to know better than the people at Marriage Equality Minnesota as to what strategy works best to sway their voters. Nice to see that you will not be supporting marriage equality there because you've decided it's some sort of slight to have straight allies explaining their rationale for supporting our rights.

    Furthermore, a quick look at the Marriage Equality Minnesota facebook page will find a slew of pro-marriage videos featuring LGBT Minnesotans.

    So really, what the hell is your point? Or are you just looking for an excuse to be indignant?

    Posted by: mike8787 | Sep 18, 2012 1:43:11 PM


  7. to that end, Ben, the best I can offer is for you to do (or keep doing what a lot of us do - actual honest-to-God grassroots in-person interactions with people.

    while it's important for us to be visible, ALWAYS, there's also the reality that for the plebes it takes straight people who aren't bigots to show them that LGBT people, and equality for us, in no way impacts NON-lgbt people in any negative way.

    see also: the necessity of non-bigoted white people during the civil rights movement's heyday.

    straight people for LGBT Equality make straight people against LGBT Equality look like insecure backward thinking fools. it's like when parents who struggle with accepting their LGBT Children meet and interact with other parents of LGBT Children - when they see that other parents aren't afraid to talk about them, embrace them, and include them actively in their lives it inspires that change. why? well, pathetically, it's sorta because they don't feel that they can "relate" to someone that doesn't look or seem exactly like them.

    do i like this reality? no. but i do understand it.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Sep 18, 2012 1:53:08 PM


  8. Littlekiwi is right. We can't win this fight alone. Any help we can get from straight allies can only aid our cause. More straight allies means more people voting for our causes, and it shows that gay marriage has zero negative impact on straight marriages.

    Posted by: FuryOfFirestorm | Sep 18, 2012 2:06:34 PM


  9. I think some of you are taking Ben's statement, and stripping out an important aspect of it. Here in California, the entire on-air campaign and debate was basically heterosexuals arguing with other heterosexuals about OUR right to marriage equality. What Ben is basically stating is that while it's important and valuable to have allies speak, as this couple has in Minnesota, it's EQUALLY important to have LGBT families and couples also on air fighting for this same equality. Putting videos on a website for which the anti-equality crowd will never see or even consider, does nothing to sway opinion on this issue. Having LGBT families and couples on TV ads normalizes and puts a face to the community that shows how marriage inequality truly affects our everyday lives. I understand Furyoffirestorm and Littlekiwi's point of view, but I think re-reading Ben's post and realizing his point of view has validity is important as well. We learned this lesson the hard way in California, and I'm sure in other states as well, and that trying new strategies and putting ourselves out there on the airwaves may actually have a positive change.

    Posted by: Keith | Sep 18, 2012 2:28:05 PM


  10. I get his point, too. But I stand by my assertion - if you want a "gay presence" it's one that's best done IN PERSON.

    do it grassroots style. person to person interactions. help out, Come Out, Live Out

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Sep 18, 2012 2:37:06 PM


  11. @Keith - good point, but the article said that this was the first ad from Minnesotans United. Ben said he has seen no evidence based on their campaign. Does he have insider info? Or does he use a crystal ball? An ouija board?

    It would be helpful for Ben to resurface and tell us what information he has and how he obtained it.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Sep 18, 2012 2:44:59 PM


  12. I understand the criticism too, but I don't think it's a question of either/or but of using both. Some people can be reached by direct appeals from gay people and others are more receptive to messages from people "like them." This couple is both Catholic and Republican so they may reach people from those groups.

    Add if you pay attention to what they say, a gay couple DID do the work here by being out and visible. The gay marriage "issue" didn't effect the straight couple directly so they'd never given it much thought- and they were against it. It was only through KNOWING a gay couple that their minds were changed. I'm sure some of those discussions weren't easy for the lesbian couple but they did it anyway and it paid off.

    Posted by: Caliban | Sep 18, 2012 2:58:50 PM


  13. I live in a small Minnesota town. I own a small business on Main street. The town council voted to give me my business loan. I opened my photography studio and have been extremely busy shooting weddings and senior pictures. Everyone in town knows I'm gay. I made the headlines of the local paper because of the ELCA hubbub just two years ago. I'm outspoken in fighting for gay rights. My rights. I have VOTE NO stickers on my bumper - as well as VOTE OBAMA/BIDEN. I'm the only one. Maybe there are others but I don't know them or they simple don't make themselves known to me. It's a small town of farmers. We have two bars and ten churches in a town of less than 1200. IMHO when straight people speak on the behalf of gay people, other straight people listen. Even some of the people who fought against me on the ELCA issues two years ago are now giving me business. Supporting me. Not just because I'm such a nice guy... but because I have support from lots of straight people in the town who talk well of me. I'm not an 'other' to them. Evolution of ingrained ideas takes time and change costs money and to say you won't give money to a campaign because their first ad doesn't have gay people speaking out for themselves is shortsighted. We NEED your support in this state. Please don't withhold.

    Posted by: Gregory from Minnesota | Sep 18, 2012 3:24:21 PM


  14. This is just the point i've been making for 20 years. I've written about it any number of times, in depth and detail. I'm going to continue making it. I hear people disagreeing with it, which is fine. But I don't hear anyone actually refuting it.

    and no, I don't have a ouija board. But i do pay attention.

    I've been out for 40 years, fighting this particular battle. And though I agree that presenting straight allies is important, where the hell are WE?

    Why don't we have gay couples saying why marriage is important to them? Why don't we show our children? Why don't we show our faith? Why don't we show anything but US?

    And why are we asking people who are irrationally afraid of gay people how best to approach people who are irrationially afraid of gay people?

    why aren't we asking out gay people what has worked in THEIR lives? The answer to that question is simple: being out.

    If there is a general clamor, i will once again post my analysis of what went wrong in prop. 8, and every campaign before or since. As I said, i don't actually see anyone refuting my analysis-- certainly not in the four years since i first wrote it.

    And BTW, I'm not telling anyone not to donate to MN. I'm not going to, because I don't see them doing anything other than courting failure by failing to be bold. I just see it as another losing campaign, so why waste my money? I'd rather it do somewhere where it will do some good.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Sep 18, 2012 3:26:53 PM


  15. Yet, Ben, you're wrong. You may have been out for 40 years, yet that does not make you an expert on strategy.

    You are wrong because *none* of these strategies have worked to date. Every state we find marriage equality, it has been a result of the courts or the legislature. You claim that being out is what brings success here -- and I agree with you on that point, to some extent -- while ignoring that today is not 1972. The impact of coming out is important, but not as important as it was when the majority of people were in the closet.

    Furthermore, coming out is most meaningful in a personal context. That is to say, when a person's doctor, or librarian, or butcher comes out. Someone they interact with personally. I would argue that every person in the country has seen gay people on TV, and they tune them out. Just seeing gay people doesn't change minds -- it is the relationship that matters.

    This is why allies like those portrayed in the video are important. They humanize the gay population for those in less populated areas that may literally not have a gay person. This particular video also contends with a fear that many people holding onto anti-gay animus have: can I be religious and straight, and still accepting of homosexuals?

    Being out is certainly important, but we could paper the world with pictures of gay parents and families. Many marriage equality groups in Minnesota do. Still, other strategies are necessary. To condemn them for not all being gay all the time is short-sided, backwards thinking, and really doesn't recognize the changing social atmosphere we now face.

    Posted by: mike8787 | Sep 18, 2012 3:46:11 PM


  16. You must enjoy straw men. I've repeatedly said i support that strategy, but this failure to show us is what is hurting us now.

    you can believe it or not. As far as I can tell-- and my 40 years have been quite active, thank you-- the closet is the enemy, not the religious reich.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Sep 18, 2012 4:06:45 PM


  17. @BEN IN OAKLAND I made the same point a while back regarding Zach Wahls and all the attention he is getting to the point that he at this point seems to be speaking FOR us rather than being allied with us.

    That said--and I hate to say this, but it's true--the more the public sees of most real-life gay people, the LESS they are likely to like them, at least if the gay people put forward are effeminate and stereotypical in the case of males and/or butchy and stereotypical in the case of females.....and let's face it, a sizeable proportion of the gay population does, unfortunately, fit those descriptions.

    Unless the gay people represented in the ads were entirely non-stereotypical and presented in such a way as to make the mainstream population comfortable with us, then more harm than good would be done by putting them out there......and because most activists at this point have acceded to the "gender-non-confomity" mindset, they would almost insist surely that effeminate men and butch women be included in any such ad campaign.

    The real underlying problem is that gay people have not cleaned up their own act yet and rid the gay culture of its unappealing aspects.....that is why we keep losing and remain so unpopular and things are likely to remain that way until that culture is fundamentally changed.

    Posted by: Rick | Sep 18, 2012 4:35:29 PM


  18. Well Ben, if you don't have an Ouija Board, where did you get your information. I volunteer for Minnesotans United. I just don't know how you can base your statement on their campaign. Do you have Minnesotans United confused with another group? I guess it's possible you know someone who works on the campaign, and that's on what you are basing your info. They must know something the rank and file doesn't.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Sep 18, 2012 4:41:03 PM


  19. My last comment. I really don't want to get into a flame war.

    You can believe whatever you want to believe. This is what i know.

    We've lost every single campaign but one, and we barely won that one. I knew we were going to lose prop. 8 the minute Mark Leno told me that the same old make-nice, don't show the gays campaign was going to be our strategy.

    I don't deny that straight allies are important. but as long as gay people remain invisible, as long as we can't show ourselves, we are just delaying our victory. We have NEVER tried a campaign that actually shows gay people. Not once. not ever. Nothing that I've ever seen, and I've been looking for it.

    So, believe what you like.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Sep 18, 2012 4:59:00 PM


  20. MY ANALYSIS
    Matt Foreman has written an extensive analysis of why we lost on Prop. 8. Basically, he claims that we did the best we could, and we could not have done any better. As you will see, I disagree completely. I think we could have done a lot better. I have no doubt that we could have and should have won. And we would have, but for the nature of the campaign-- a deeply closeted campaign in mentality, and so afraid of taking the wrong step that it did nothing at all. I believe that we did as well as we did in this election not BECAUSE of this campaign, but DESPITE it.
    The justifications that Mr. Foreman has listed may be true. I have no way of knowing, except that these justifications contradict every experience of my 39 years as an out and proud gay man, and they have failed repeatedly in every campaign since 1996. That alone should tell us: let's maybe try something different. Maybe let's trust the basic decency and sense of fair play that I think most people in this country, and certainly, most people in California, would exhibit if only they were given the chance. But they weren't given the chance. We assumed the worst about them, and they had to be protected from seeing us.
    Let me also add that I do not know a single out, thoughtful, grounded gay person who thinks that this campaign was anything but a loser from the get-go. I spoke to Mark Leno personally about the need not to repeat this limply liberal, everybody-make-nice approach that completely avoided the reality of gay people's lives, only to be told that despite its repeated failure for the past 10 years in 40 states, it was going to be tried yet again in this most important contest. He wasn't interested in what I had to say, and clearly couldn't wait to get away from me. (For the record, I am neither stupid nor crazy). I tried repeatedly to get someone at No on 8 to listen about the need for a speakers bureau, community outreach, and knowledgeable editorial writers, and was literally told "there's no demand for it." I finally gave up, and did what I could on my own.
    This response might make sense in the political culture that these various people swim in, but it makes absolutely no sense at all in my world. It is insane to repeat the same tired campaign based upon the same tired political, sociological, and psychological assumptions, expecting to get a different result. And if there is no demand for outreach to the people of the your community, which is by definition the very nature of politics, wouldn't you think it might be a good idea to CREATE some?
    Thankfully, since the election, more and more people are speaking out about the effects of a closeted campaign, and starting a true dialog in our community about our willingness to stand up for who we are, as we are. If we continue to employ political consultants who may have their own issues around shame and fear and homosexuality, and continue the strategies of the past that have yet to work, then I fear that the push for marriage equality is doomed. And despite their rhetoric that they are just fine with domestic partnerships, the anti-gay crowd is clearly not fine with it, and we can probably kiss any progress in that area goodbye as well for another twenty years. I'm too old for that. I have been hearing anti-gay prejudice my whole life-- the lies, the hate, the distortions, and worst of all, the hate-disguised-as-love. I'm tired of it. And frankly, I think the country, maybe even the whole world, not just gay people, has paid an enormous price for it, if indeed it led to the disaster known as the Presidency of George Bush.
    Though I did a lot of work against 8, ultimately, I chose not to work with the official campaign above a certain minimum. It was very clear to me that this was going to be a campaign conducted from the closet. In fact, I wrote a couple of articles on the subject, which together constitute as clear a picture of what I saw happening as I could produce. This picture was confirmed to me when I took a training and I received the list of words that we were supposed to avoid, including these three: prejudice, religion, and children. I'll get back to those three words and their absence in this campaign.
    I read in the news and online the bases for the state lawsuits against 8. All very well and good, and possibly even valid. But they don't convince even me-- especially the revision vs. amendment part of it, which seems to be the main plank-- and so I wasn't surprised that they didn't, in the end, convince a judge, especially if his/her job was on the line in a future recall. As with the No on 8 ads, these arguments were obscure and irrelevant. And I really wanted to be convinced. Also, I believe this tack was already tried, and was rejected by the court. Of all possible arguments, this seemed to be the weakest. And the argument failed, as expected.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I do have my nearly 60 years of life, and 39 years as an out, proud, and happy gay man to guide me. Very frankly, it seemed to me that these lawsuits were being conducted from the closet as well, and in exactly the same way as the campaign was. Once again, before the Olson-Boies trial, I saw these three words being avoided: children, religion, and prejudice. And the result was exactly the same. During Olson-Boies, it allowed our opponents to say once again, "We don't hate you. We're just trying to preserve heterosexual marriage/the family/traditional values," by which they mean the myth of heterosexual superiority and the realities of heterosexual privilege and prejudice. It will also allow them to continue to claim that somehow, if gay people are protected from discrimination, whether in marriage or the usual employment/housing/accommodations, that their freedom of religion is compromised, by which they mean their freedom to discriminate against gay people on the basis of their religious belief.
    The closet is about living a lie. It IS a lie, it is based on lies, and it engenders lies. It distorts, perverts, and debases everything it touches, as the sorry life of Ted Haggard will attest. And like all lies, the bigger it is, the longer it is told, the more damage it ultimately causes. One lie, that the Jews were responsible for Jesus' death, as told in the Gospel of John and the letters of Paul, ultimately led to centuries of anti-Semitism, the murder of six million Jews, and 250,000 murdered gay people as an afterthought. John was, of course, justifying the Jewish heresy that became Christianity, and was sticking it to the Jewish authorities of the time. The Christians won and the Jews lost. Another lie, that gay people are responsible for child molestation, has impeded so much progress in the battle to protect our children. After all, if you can blame it on the queers, you don't actually have to look at child molestation and where it actually occurs most often-- the family.
    As a Jew, I'm weary of losing. As a gay man, I have no use for the closet.
    There is only one answer to a lie, and that is the truth. By hiding us, hiding our families, we are complicit in this lie. Jesus said "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." So when do we start telling the truth? Because I, for one, wish to be free.
    For 2000 years or more, gay people have been subject to a vicious, virulent, and consistent prejudice, a veritable avalanche of outright falsehoods, made up "facts", agenda-based "research", and distortions of religious teaching. We have been imprisoned, slandered, criminalized, degraded, pathologized, and murdered for being different. We have been scapegoated for child molestation, the collapse of empires, and the decline of the family. There are many people who deem it a good thing to make our lives as difficult, expensive, dangerous, and unpleasant as possible, often under the guise of "We love you" and "This is for your own good". That this prejudice exists is beyond all doubt. The bulk of the Yes on 8 campaign was a conglomeration of known lies, distortions, and the-gays-are-gonna-get-your-children fear mongering, all very consistent with the existence of a prejudicial mindset. Prejudice and bigotry are not good bases for either law or public policy, and as we have progressed as a society, we have consistently rejected them.
    So why is prejudice apparently not a part of our legal and electoral arguments and strategies? Are we still afraid to call the people prejudiced who have slandered us for two millennia-- or for twelve months straight-- especially since we know it is true? Whether it is presented as sincere religious belief, or admitted for what it is, it is still prejudice. Why can we not say that absent a compelling, factual, and real reason, our equality before the law cannot be compromised by someone else's prejudice? I know the argument goes that we win no converts by calling people bigots. As far as I am concerned, if we are willing only to be silent about it, we are consenting to it. We can be polite, but we have to start being truthful. The closet depends on both lies and silence for its power over gay people and its support from heterosexuals. We don't have to call people bigots. We do have to start talking about bigotry. We are not responsible for how people to react to us. We are only responsible for who we are, and to tell the truth-- our truth.
    This is what Rosa Parks had to say about the consent of silence: "It’s not that I was fed up (that day). I was fed up all my life, as far back as I can remember, with being treated as less than a free person . . . as long as we continued to comply with these rules and regulations that kept us crushed down as a people, then the power structure would always say: ‘Well, they are not complaining, and they accept this, so they are satisfied with it.’"
    I would re-phrase that for gay people. "I have been fed up all my life, as far back as I can remember, with being treated as less than a whole person, as not good enough, not citizen enough, not human enough, to allow me the simple dignity and respect of living my life in peace. Well, actually they will allow that, as long as I don’t demand equality before the law -- or respect, or dignity, or to live my life in peace."
    It has been documented over and over again that the Catholics and the Mormons, along with other religious conservatives, were the primary organizers, financiers, movers, and promoters of Yes on 8. In fact, they are proud of it. Their arguments were primarily religion based: it's against our religion, God ordained that marriage is between a man and a woman, ministers will be jailed, churches will be taxed and/or sued, religious freedom violated. The President of the Mormon Church sent out a letter encouraging Mormons to "do what they can", resulting in millions in out-of-state donations. Pastoral letters from the Catholic Bishops were read in church; Bishops Niedeaur and Mahoney have trumpeted their parts in this, claiming that they are only doing their Catholic duty. Brigham Young university students were encouraged to phone bank. All of this to enforce a certain, conservative religious view about homosexuality, and place a religious view about same-sex marriage onto the civil contract of marriage. The state, by virtue of the First Amendment, is supposed to be neutral in religious matters. By enforcing 8, the state is not being neutral. My marriage is a civil matter, with nothing to do with anyone's religion but my own. We don't have to attack people's religion. But we to have to start talking about religion, freedom of religion, and the difference between religious belief and civil society.
    I was grateful that Jerry Brown was not defending Prop. 8 in court, but defending the equal protection provisions of the Constitution of the State of California. But he should also be defending the religious freedom provisions as well. I believe he has the legal ability to do so. But he must choose it. And so should we.
    One issue that MUST be addressed under the rubric of equal protection is this pernicious and false belief that Domestic Partnership confers exactly the same rights under California law as marriage. Not only does DP stop at the state line, which marriage does not, it does not confer Federal recognition of the legal relationship, which its host of benefits. There is one other extremely significant difference: No one will ever vote on any heterosexual's right to marry as often and badly as they wish, provided they are legally eligible. But, if they can vote to "disappear" my marriage, then they can vote to "disappear" my domestic partnership as well. And they would have done so if they thought they could have gotten away with it. Let us not forget that there was another petition being circulated by Randy Thomason which would have done exactly that.
    Moreover, ask just about anyone, and they would be hard put to say just what domestic partnership entails; its qualifications, its rights, benefits, and responsibilities would be unknown. A homophobic nurse would have no problem keeping one's domestic partner out of the hospital room. And this happened too many tragic times to count. Ask anyone what marriage entails, and they can tell you immediately, and this nurse would not have a legal, moral, or administrative leg to stand on. This is one of the things we are struggling for: the right to be recognized as legal family, as legal next of kin. Domestic partnership is polite heterosexism, just another nice way of saying that your life, your relationship, and your family are not really as important as ours.
    I can think of very few politicians who have the integrity and the fortitude to stand for much of anything. I voted for John Kerry, but held my nose while doing so. I'm happy that Obama was elected, but despite his rhetoric, I'm fairly sure that gay concerns are way down on his priority list. He only sees "out" gay people. I doubt he gets the crushing burden of the closet, simply because he has never had to be in one. It is one thing to "support" gay marriage, it is quite another thing to be willing take a rhetorical bullet for it. We need only look at Feinstein's wishy-washy "unfair and wrong" commercial, or Schwarzenegger's unfulfilled promise to campaign against 8. He somehow managed to be out of the state in the final week of the campaign, when he should have been on TV. And as far I can tell, no one called him on it. Certainly not his lesbian chief of staff.
    Where is the lawsuit from a coalition of religious groups-- UU, UCC, Episcopal, Reformed Judaism, to name but a few, plus a host of ministers from many other denominations-- who don't want their religious beliefs dictated by the conservatives and imposed upon civil law, especially in the matter of how civil law affects their parishioners? Since this is a civil contract, why is my access to it compromised by the religious beliefs of people who want their religious views reflected by civil law? Why is it that only THEIR freedom of religion the one that counts?
    Moreover, just because they claim it is about their religious beliefs does not make that a true statement. Nor does it make it right. It only makes it sound reasonable, unmotivated by hate or fear. Like all prejudice, religious prejudice is never reasonable. It's just prejudice. And what about MY freedom of religion, which is every bit as important as theirs? Again, by not speaking out about it, we are consenting to it. We don't have to attack anyone for their religious beliefs. But we do have to talk about it.
    If this were not about gay marriage, but was about any other religious difference of opinion, this would be called what it so clearly is: discrimination on the basis of religious belief. We have laws at every level of government which say that discrimination on the basis of religious belief, yours or mine, is wrong and has no place in a secular, pluralistic society. Why is this different? I'm certainly old enough to remember "exclusive" country clubs and neighborhoods. But if Prop. 8-1/2 said that Jews could be discriminated against because they do not share majority Christian belief, it would be thrown out by the courts without a moment's hesitation, though before WWII such practices were considered acceptable. But because this is about this very ancient prejudice against gay people, often supported by religious belief but occasionally admitted for what it is, and about sex in our deeply puritanical culture, somehow, we are not allowed to point this out. Why is this 800 pound gorilla in the living room apparently invisible? What do we have to lose by calling out bigotry for what it is? What do we have to gain by pretending that it is not? How is the continuation of the closet served by not talking about bigotry and prejudice?
    Again, our silence means consent. Or, as my Act Up brothers would say, Silence=Death.
    Finally, there is the matter of children and family, or as I like to call it, The Children (TM). Because, despite all of that pro-family, love-the-children rhetoric of the religious right, The Children (TM) are just one more commodity in their never-ending battle against both ending this prejudice and our full inclusion in society-- and arguably, in their whole socio-political agenda, which I believe is ultimately the control of our society and the rule of their "theology". I can think of all kinds of children they don't care about: the estimated 70,000 children in California with gay parents, the 3%-4% of the children that will grow up to be gay, but meanwhile have to grow up in the closet and suffer every last indignity that it can bestow, from shame and self-hatred to the ultimate: a Larry Craig life of sleazy furtiveness, or a Bobby Griffith suicide of despair. And how many children world-wide could have been fed, clothed, educated and immunized for the 85 million spent on this campaign? How many children in Darfur died of starvation while Yes on 8 was attacking my marriage? How many social programs in Utah have gone begging while the Mormon Church was getting all moralistic on our asses?
    When I attended the above mentioned speaker's training, which turned out not to be much of a training at all, my intellectual hackles were raised when we were told there was a list of words we weren't supposed to use and were to try to avoid (at worst) or to euphemize (at best). It reminded of the first time I ever heard the words "politically incorrect", when I was working against the Briggs Initiative 30 years ago; I thought then that speaker was joking, and was shocked to find that she was serious. This time, when I saw that list of words, my spirits fell, because I received yet another confirmation that this campaign was going to be conducted from the dark recesses of the closet, as has every other failed campaign for the last ten years.
    But the final blow, what told me that we were very likely to lose this battle, and what decided for me that I would put little energy towards the official campaign-- though I did personally donate $500 to it, and raised about $1000 more-- was the exclusion of one word: children. I asked the presenter why we could not talk about that. Her first response was that the Yes people had appropriated it. I couldn't swear to it, but she may even have used the word "co-opted", a word I haven't heard used since I first learned it from the admitted socialists (and I don't mean that as a put-down, just a context) running the anti-Briggs campaign.
    I asked the trainer why we couldn't talk about gay families, or gay people with children. Her response: focus groups had shown that any association of gay people and children activated the worst animosities of the anti-gay crowd and, more importantly, the worst fears of the crucial undecided voters in the middle who would actually decide the contest. What a concept! Let's ask straight people who are afraid of gay people about how to win gay rights, instead of asking gay people what has worked in their lives.
    You can see the result of focus group viewpoints. We have been focused over big-time.
    So many lethal absurdities here. Yes on 8 had co-opted the issue, so we can't talk about it. Let's pretend that gay people don't have children instead. Let's tell a lie, even one of omission. From my point of view, it is all the more reason that we should be talking about it, and loudly. People who don't know gay people, who know nothing about us, who don't know that we have children, that many of us love children, that some of us have adopted the unwanted, cast off children of irresponsible heterosexual reproduction, cannot be informed that their beliefs and perceptions are wrong, lest we...what? Scare them? Challenge them? Educate them? If they are so locked into their fears and their hatred that the simple act of showing our humanity, our families, and our children will cause them to vote against us, then they would not be voting for us anyway.
    But Foreman's column said we SHOULD be avoiding this topic. However out-of-the-closet Mr. Foreman and these political consultants may be, this sentiment makes me wonder if they might have their own issues around fear and shame. I have seen very little in popular culture that supports the idea that lies, either of commission or omission, about important matters are superior and preferable to the truth. I say we should trust the basic decency and fairness of our fellow Americans. I say we should reach hearts and minds with real people and real families. I would rather lose the campaign because we have told the truth, than because we have been complicit in a lie. There was a very telling scene in the movie "Milk", where the politicos were going to hide gay people, and Harvey Milk said NO. He understood the closet, and in fact, personally gave me my understanding of its pernicious nature long before many of these political consultants were even aware that they were gay, or in some cases, even born.
    I have a friend who adopted a child with her partner-- an unwanted child who would have been raised in poverty and disease, another piece of third world refuse heading towards an early death because his heterosexual parents neither wanted him nor were prepared to care for him. M. has been given a chance at a different life with her, and is now healthy, bright, charming, well behaved, and a joy to be around. Marriage provides a certain set of rights and responsibilities upon people who are married, and a certain set of protections for their children. Preventing my friend from marrying another woman, which would give M a set of married parents and all of the benefits that the law and society allow, is advocating is to keep him, and the children of all gay couples, in as legally, financially and socially precarious a position as possible. Domestic partnership goes only so far in protecting the children of gay people, and stops exactly at the state line.
    The legal and social status of the children of gay people is an issue that must be addressed, and if we don't do so, you can be sure that we will see another anti-gay, Arkansas-style initiative that will. By conducting our campaign and our lawsuit from the fear and loathing of the closet, we are avoiding it. We are doing nothing to counter the the-gays-are-gonna-get-your-children fear mongering stereotypes and outright falsehoods that are the anti-gay industry's stock-in-trade, and their most potent and vicious ammunition. And in so doing, we are failing our families and children just as surely as our opponents are. What's good for the children of heterosexuals is good for the children of homosexuals. Opposing marriage equality is tantamount to punishing those children. What have they ever done to deserve that? What about their equality before the law, their freedom of religion, their rights? We are also failing the children who will grow up to be gay. If we are going to say that children are our most precious resource, then we must stand up for them now, just as we surely should have done throughout this whole, sorry campaign.
    We should have won and we could have won. We cannot allow our opponents to own those three words-- religion, prejudice, and children-- any more than we can allow them to own the word "marriage". Keeping our lawsuit and our campaigns in the closet is the same as keeping gay people in the closet, and will have the same results. We will remain invisible and powerless as a community.
    There is one last issue that must be addressed, yet another closet issue. One of the outstanding features of the campaign's obliviousness to reality was its utter failure to attempt to talk to gay people, not only about what has worked in their lives around the issues of marriage, coming out, and family, but also the failure to spend a portion of the budget on statewide advertising on TV, encouraging people to come out to their families, to discuss the issue of marriage and what it means to us, and to encourage their family members to vote NO; or if they could not vote no on it, at least, not to vote on it at all. They relied on a baseless assumption: of course, gay people WILL come out to to the people they know, and talk about important issues. They always do. That's why there isn't a problem with the closet. Right.
    Encouraging conversation is never a bad idea. Such a campaign would have had at least four obvious benefits. First, there is the obvious benefit of more people coming out and living their lives freely. Secondly, the appeal to family love and loyalty is of far more value than a revered Senator from San Francisco making grand, if somewhat vague appeals about Truth, Justice, and the American Way to people who wouldn't listen to her anyway (see San Francisco Democrat, above) about people she could not bravely put a name to. Third, many people don't think they have the option not to vote on something controversial. This could have flipped a lot of votes away from 8. And finally, that fabled "movable middle" would have had yet another chance to see that this is in fact about real people, about family, children, faith, and yes, prejudice.
    Let me repeat two things: The enemy is not now and never has been the religious right, the anti-gay wingnuts, or even those homo-hating-homos who wanna-be-straight-but-ain't. The enemy is, now and always, the closet. Rip that door off its hinges and the anti-gay industry will be reduced to functional irrelevance. Our strength will be the truth about our lives, our children, our families. I would rather lose because we told the truth, than lose because we hid our heads in shame and lied.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Sep 18, 2012 5:03:27 PM


  21. Gregory, thanks for sharing your story.

    Posted by: Robert K. | Sep 18, 2012 8:30:22 PM


  22. @Ben In Oakland: Who the f*ck is going to read your long wind bag post? Not me, for damn sure!

    Posted by: Andrew | Sep 19, 2012 1:52:56 AM


  23. Suggestions to the nice Catholic Republican couple: Get out of the Catholic Church it is based on biblical myths. Get out of the Republican Party. It is for the intollerant elitists. You guys seem better than both these backward and bigoted organizations.

    Posted by: Andrew | Sep 19, 2012 1:57:49 AM


  24. Thank you, Andrew, for that salient and likely suggestion. Every religious person in the US should just get over it. By all means, feel free to hold your breath until that happens. Hey, it hasn't happened yet in the entire history of the world, but tomorrow might be our lucky day!

    Meanwhile, back in reality, things are more complicated than that.

    Posted by: Caliban | Sep 19, 2012 2:47:28 AM


  25. Is Towleroad so money hungry that they have to post anti-Obama ads on this site with homosexual tendencies? Shame on you Andy Towle!!

    Posted by: Andrew | Sep 19, 2012 4:12:11 AM


  26. 1 2 »

Post a comment







Trending


« «Man Risks Incineration at the Edge of a Volcano: VIDEO« «