Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NY Times too quick to predict end of anti-gay speech

Frank Rich, New York Times columnist, is a little too premature in declaring the end of anti-gay speech in this country.
In a recent op-ed, Rich disses the anti-gay YouTube video "Gathering Storm" and the movement behind it, saying:
What gives the ad its symbolic significance is not just that it’s idiotic but that its release was the only loud protest anywhere in America to the news that same-sex marriage had been legalized in Iowa and Vermont. If it advances any message, it’s mainly that homophobic activism is ever more depopulated and isolated as well as brain-dead.
Not so fast, Frank. The past year reveals that the struggle for gay rights still faces plenty of setbacks, and these setbacks should be noticeable for a guy drawing paychecks from the New York Times. Some examples:
  • In January 2008, country/pop star Taylor Swift released a song called "Picture to Burn" in which the singer envisions how she'll slam her ex. "So go and tell your friends/That I’m obsessive and crazy," Swift sings. "That’s fine/I’ll tell mine/You’re gay." Country music blog The 9513 reports that this last line has "been edited out of the radio version," but at least one station didn't get the message: I heard it on Country 102.5-FM yesterday afternoon.
  • In November 2008, as Barack Obama received a national mandate for change, people in California voted against a particular change: Gay marriage. Fifty-two percent of Golden State voters backed Proposition 8, which would ban gay marriage. The Wall Street Journal said: "The passage of Prop 8 ... would be a major victory for religious conservatives seeking to ban gay marriage in other states, and a crippling setback for the gay rights movement nationwide." And Californians weren't the only ones to pass bans against gay marriage. So did people in two other states -- Arizona and Florida.
So while it's gutsy of Rich to predict the end of anti-gay talk in the US, the road ahead is still in some ways as hard as it was in the Harvey Milk days. It's still too easy for anti-gay lyrics to surface in songs, or for anti-gay marriage campaigns to win at the polls. May this change in the year ahead.

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