From the ENDA debacle to Larry Craig’s bathroom toe-tapping, the news from the past year did not shine a complimentary light on us
As a member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists’ Association, I got to vote on the top LGBT stories for 2007.
The guys over at CBS News on LOGO asked us our opinions, compiled the info, and then released their findings on Dec. 8 during their “2007 Year in Review” special report.
From a purely news point of view what got the most play on broadcast, the most column inches in print, the most pixels on blogs the top 10 stories weren’t that surprising. A quick run-down reads like this:
10. Gay Pride violence
9. Susan Stanton fired from her job as city manager of Largo, Fla., after transitioning from a male to a female
8. Elizabeth Edwards breaks with husband John and supports same-sex marriage
7. Jerry Sanders, San Diego’s Republican mayor, tearfully comes out in favor of our marriage rights seems his daughter is a dyke
6. The “Grey’s Anatomy” drama-rama
5. Gays are nonexistent in Iran, according to the country’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
4. We’re declared immoral by Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Peter Pace (he’s now the former Joint Chief although he didn’t step down because of furor around his remarks)
3. The LOGO presidential forum
2. ENDA drama-rama-rama-rama
1. Larry Craig’s toe-tapping
Looking at this list, most are stories that impacted us negatively, not stories that really tell what we as a community are doing to move ahead.
The ENDA catastrophe showed just how fractured our activist community really is. The Human Rights Campaign was painted as a big, bad liar, while 350 or so other LGBT groups banded together to kill legislation that didn’t include the transgender community.
Various polls have shown we’re all over the map on this one some of us want to wait until the political climate is right for trans inclusion, some say to pass the legislation now.
What all this really said to me was that those 350 groups now need to step up to the plate and educate, educate, educate the public and the politicians on trans issues. Now, if that really happened next year, it would be a top story for 2008.
The LOGO presidential forum gave us just a taste of what is to come. For me, the big story is how early the race started and how fatigued voters may be when we actually get to Nov. 4, 2008.
There’s no clear radical Christian right candidate. The GOP seems to be in disarray.
If we, as a community, keep our priorities straight (no pun intended) and work for whomever the Democratic nominee is, we’re bound to elect the next president of the United States.
We did it in 1992 when Bill Clinton came into office. We can do it again in 2008.
Now, I’m no Pollyanna. I know the Dems aren’t perfect. The failure of the Matthew Shepard Act is indicative of how fragile their majority in both houses really is.
So, one of our top stories in 2008 should be the work we did as a community to widen that majority.
Just imagine the stories that will be written when a Democratic president comes into office and our legislation is passed and signed into law.
Larry Craig’s toe-tapping has once again painted the community as just a bunch of sex-focused guys who would do it anywhere just to get off not the kind of picture I want for our community, and not the kind of picture that reflects the diversity of who we are, and that many of us just want a comfortable life with the person we love.
The Williams Institute at UCLA, the think tank that is helping to write the real story about the LGBT community, has taken a good look at U.S. Census data and found that the 777,000 same-sex couples living together in the United States are really no different from the country’s millions of married, straight couples.
We’re demographically and geographically diverse, just like they are. Other similarities? Both types of couples are actively involved in the economy, have similar economic resources, and are raising children.
When the media start focusing on the reality of our lives rather than focusing on how we’re different, the story of who we are will finally be written. But the big story will come when there’s no story at all when we will be considered equal to heterosexuals in all facets of our lives, and when being lesbian or gay is a nonstory.
I don’t know about you, but that’s the story I’m waiting to read.
Libby Post is a political commentator on public radio, on the Web and in print.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Friday, December 28, 2007.