Saturday, August 27, 2011

Weekend News Round-Up: Bachmann and Gays, Post-Gay Discussion, and Bible Belt Family Values

A selection of articles from the week that caught my eye, on disparate topics:

At Huffington Post, Karl Frisch notes that a gay teen bashed to death recently, Marcellus Richard Andrews, was killed in Michelle Bachman's hometown of Waterloo, Iowa.  Frisch argues that, given Bachmann's track record on gay issues, this is well worth noting, and he moves to the following conclusion:

When politicians like Bachmann make nasty comments about gay people and support government-sanctioned discrimination that treats LGBT Americans as something less than equal, they make it easier for the seeds of hate to take hold. In the minds of those capable of committing these horrible hate crimes, if gay men and lesbians aren't legally permitted to pursue happiness, why give them liberty? Why allow them to live?

People like Marcellus Richard Andrews deserve to know how a Bachmann presidency would impact their lives. They deserve to know why a leading candidate for president would say such hateful things about them and their friends.

Also at HuffPo, Oscar Raymundo has a problem with the labels "professional gay" and "post-gay."   In particular, he senses internalized homophobia buried within the latter tag.

I share Raymundo's distaste for the post-gay designation.  My own concern is this: this analysis of the gay movement in the U.S. is pushed by influential gay men living in affluent, high-profile gay enclaves in large cities.  The implication that we can now comfortably move to a post-gay moment in which no one notices very much that folks are gay or straight may work for them--they may have gotten what they want or need--but it is ludicrously misapplied to much of the nation.

As the story of Marcellus Richard Andrews illustrates, it still matters whether someone is gay in Waterloo, Iowa.  Or Rough and Ready, Arkansas, Erewhon, Texas, and numerous other small communities throughout the heartland.

While our comfortably situated confreres in the elite cultural centers of the country may think they've arrived and now can shrug off the tag "gay," many of us are fighting for our lives in the rest of the nation.  For our gay lives.

And speaking of the heartland, and, in particular, the bible belt portion of it: surprise, surprise.  As Katia Hetter reports at CNN, a recent report of the Census Bureau shows divorce rates far higher in precisely those areas of the U.S. with the strongest religiously-based family-values ethics.  In the places, in other words, where many people are likely to fear same-sex marriage because it will destroy traditional marriage . . . . 

Meanwhile, look at what the latest Annie B. Casey Foundation Kids Count study finds about the same area of the country, when it measures how the states of that area meet the challenge of children's needs, with its child well-being index: sort this year's state-by-state ranking by numerical value, and you'll find that almost every single state at the bottom of the heap is a staunch bible-belt, family-values, pro-Republican state.  The only two states ranking among the 10 worst in the nation for well-being of children outside that area are New Mexico and Nevada.

As the 2012 elections approach, Catholics who imagine that they can promote pro-life values by allying themselves with the religious groups that dominate in the strongly Republican, "pro-family" part of the nation need to have their eyes wide open.  There's not much pro-family or pro-life about letting the needs of children go unmet, while preaching family values you don't even live yourself.

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