Responding to the Boy Scouts of America’s plan to ditch their ban on gay Scouts, Family Research Council President, Tony Perkins, said, “A departure from their long-held policies would be devastating to an organization that has prided itself on the development of character in boys.”
The problem that Perkins and other culture warriors are encountering is that each day fewer people believe their hyperbolic and hyperventilating warnings about LGBT people. The terrifying “Gay Agenda” and “Special Rights” rhetoric worked well in the 1980’s and 1990’s when homosexuals were thought of as a far off species that only existed in San Francisco’s Gay Pride parades. It was easy to spook the suburban masses by exploiting fear of the unknown.
However, now that gay people are coming out quicker than Perkins can invent new lies – and straight allies are joining our cause faster than new homophobes are minted, the outcome appears to be a foregone conclusion. The only rationale for Perkins and his ilk to continue their losing crusade is to suck every last cent out of their aging, gullible follower’s pockets before they expire.
The Boy Scouts story was featured in today’s New York Times on page A13. However, all one has to do to understand the reason for their policy shift is read the story on page A12, “Sewers, Curfews, and a Ban on Gay Bias.” It is about Vicco, a poor, abandoned Appalachian coal town in Kentucky, which has a gay mayor and a city council that just passed an anti-discrimination ordinance.
Similarly, a bill that would give same-sex couples the majority of the legal rights afforded heterosexual couples cleared a Wyoming House subcommittee by a 7-2 vote and is headed to consideration in the full House. According to the Los Angeles Times, the bill’s sponsor is State Rep. Cathy Connolly of Laramie, the first openly gay representative in Wyoming.
If Perkins’ prejudice isn’t playing in rural Kentucky and Wyoming, it soon won’t be resonating in too many places.
Sensing this trend, Dave Kochel, an Iowa Republican operative who served as senior adviser to Mitt Romney, declared this week on a local television show his support for marriage equality and said, “The culture wars are over, and the Republicans largely lost.”
If FRC’s Perkins wasn’t already feeling besieged and beleaguered, Chick-fil-A CEO, Dan Cathy, has struck up an on-going dialogue with Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer. Cathy invited the gay advocate to sit with him at the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the company’s latest 990 tax forms show that they have stopped funding the most venomously anti-gay organizations. While the fast food chain is still far from perfect and funds questionable groups, one must remember that it is the Religious Right’s Alamo – the last company to stubbornly dig in and hold firm against society’s changing attitude’s towards LGBT people. Thus, it can’t be encouraging to Perkins that a gay activist, and not he, is sitting in a luxury skybox with Cathy at the 50-yard line.
Lately, even when the news is bad – it’s good. For example, former San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders offensive lineman, Kwame Harris, was arrested this week and faces felony charges for beating his boyfriend in a parking lot. While Harris won’t win a role model award – his “outing” helps break another stereotype and, once again, shows that gay athletes are an integral part of the sports world.
Speaking of which, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo is using his Super Bowl appearance to promote the cause of marriage equality and anti-bullying. He sent an email to same-sex marriage advocates Brian Ellner and Michael Skolnik asking, “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti-bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?”
In the same vein, Kenneth Faried, who plays for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, appeared in a video supporting the state’s bid for civil unions where he said, “No one can tell me I can’t have two mothers, because I really do.”
The final nail in the anti-gay movement’s coffin will be complete abandonment by the business community, because that is where the money is – and money drives politics in today’s America. This week, the Human Rights Campaign formed a business coalition made up of Fortune 500 companies that support the end of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Corporations that are on-board include heavyweights such as Marriott, eBay, Reuters, and Aetna.
There is still an unacceptable amount of discrimination and an enormous amount of work to do. But, if I were Tony Perkins I’d either spruce up my resume or find a new group to hate – because while the party isn’t over, it’s well past midnight for homophobia in America.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”