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Fox News’ Van Susteren Defends Married Binational Gay Couple

11 Aug

Bradford Wells and his husband Anthony John Makk (photo by Noah Berger, Special to the SF Chronicle)

We posted the other day about the tragic story of Bradford Wells and Anthony John Makk, a binational couple being split up by our federal government. Makk, an Australian citizen has been with his American husband for 19 years. This week, the Obama administration made the decision to deport Makk who was legally married to Wells in Massachusetts in 2004.

In addition to being legally married, Makk is Wells’ primary caregiver through his AIDS treatment. Their heartbreaking story is making the rounds on the internet and was featured on CNN:

http://youtu.be/tgPV8pw05nk

And in this storytelling and sharing of the couple’s life, minds and hearts are being changed. Coming from an unlikely source, Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren took to her blog defending the couple in a post titled: “THIS IS CONFUSING: PRESIDENT OBAMA SENDING MIXED SIGNALS TO GAY AMERICANS”

One other personal, not legal, observation…these two men have been together 19 years….do you have any idea how many phoney applications are made by heterosexual foreigners who come to the USA, find a spouse (sometimes money is exchanged), marrying, getting a green card and then divorcing? It is a racket. We sure don’t try and stop those fraudulent relationships/marriages with any vigor. These two men, whether you are for or against, gay marriage, have been together 19 years (and yes, paying taxes!)

Of course the blog post is just a veiled attempt to attack President Obama and vilify him to the LGBT community, but the substance of it is clearly in support of protecting our rights. Minds can change so long as we continue to talk about equality.

UPDATE: After a little research, it seems Greta is talking out both sides of her mouth (which would be an accomplishment as she usually only uses one side). Greta invited John Boehner onto her show back in March to discuss Obama’s decision to stop defending DOMA in court. In the interview, she clearly sides with Boehner and claims that Boehner (in defending DOMA) is “doing the job that the Executive branch won’t do.” So this is just another case of someone using the LGBT rights movement as a political football. Either she believes that this couple should not be separated or she believes that DOMA should be the law of the land. Talk about mixed messages…

Compromising on Equality

27 Dec

As most of us here on the East Coast are snowed in, what better to do with this new-found free time than a little edugaytion?

From On Top Magazine today, we find a brief rundown of the candidates for the new Republican National Committee Chairperson. The current chair (who is also running for re-election), Michael Steele opposes gay marriage, claiming it would be “bad for small businesses.” This is somehow related to the fact that businesses would be required to provide insurance for same-sex spouses like they already do for the other 90% of the population. So his argument is that we should not have the same rights because small businesses should still be allowed to discriminate.

Recently, the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage interviewed the leading candidates for RNC Chair and unsurprisingly, they are all against equality. NOM’s chair, the outspoken Maggie Gallagher interviewed Wisconsin GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, Save American Jobs Project Chairman Saul Anuzis, former RNC political director Gentry Collins and former Missouri Republican Chairwoman Ann Wagner.

As On Top mentions, Collins said gay marriage “devalues the relationship that is shared by my wife and I and a number of committed married couples.”

“Marriage is an institution that has been around for 3,000 years. It’s part of our faith. It’s part of out culture,” Anuzis said. “It’s important to have a mother and a father … People care that you’re a family person.”

Opposition to gay marriage is a “pillar” of the Republican platform, Wagner said in her interview.

“I think that’s where the American people are. They believe in traditional marriage. They want to lift that up. … It’s important that we hold true to those tenants and values that I think are a pillar of our Republican party and our platform.”

Priebus said marriage was given to us by God and needs to be protected from “activist judges.”

“I believe marriage is a gift from God and the sanctity of marriage ought to be protected … and I don’t believe the comedy clause in the constitution allows for activist judges to redefine what marriage is,” he said, referring to the constitution’s Full Faith and Credit clause.

GOProud, an organization for gay Republicans, jumped in and is willing to throw their support behind any candidate who is not Michael Steele. Said GOProud’s Chris Barron “We need an RNC Chair who understands that his or her role is to raise money and build party infrastructure, not to sell books, hire friends and family, and pontificate on policy.”

Barron goes on to claim some credit for the November midterm elections: “Were it not for the hard work of outside groups, who were forced to step in to fill the void left by an ineffective RNC, success at the ballot box in November would never have occurred.”

What a tremendous conflict it must be to be gay and have to argue in favor of someone who opposes equality so vehemently. Change is occurring of course, and some within the Republican party – and groups like GOProud are partly responsible for that – let’s hope they can keep changing minds from the inside without having to compromise more of their own personal freedoms.

Should We Give a Megaphone to the Bigots?

7 Dec

Over the past few years, we’ve seen all the nuts falling from the trees. Nowadays, it’s difficult to find a news program from CNN, MSNBC, Fox or anywhere else that doesn’t offer differing viewpoints on the topics of the day – no matter how bigoted those viewpoints might be.

But how far should the media go in giving a platform to bigots, racists, homophobes and the like? Julie Bolcer at The Advocate points out a brief interview with Tom Brokaw on a red carpet recently. Brokaw pointed out the fact that sometimes it’s outrageous anti-gay viewpoints that spark conversations nationwide. “You just say that they’ve got strong opinions. You treat like them like anyone else. You cross-examine and ask them the right questions.” Brokaw said.

As a journalist, one would think that you should be fairly removed from the topic you are reporting on, but it would seem with the evolution of news programs from most of the major cable networks, that commentary on these issues has become standard.

Anderson Cooper joined the fray earlier this year when he interviewed former Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell after Shirvell had harrassed and stalked openly-gay University of Michigan student body president, Chris Armstrong. Cooper was less-than-kind to Shirvell stopping just a few inches short of calling him a lunatic on national television.

And our beloved Rachel Maddow used her bully pulpit to eviscerate ex-gay therapist Richard Cohen, when he tried to explain his methods of “curing” homosexuality. While never being rude to Mr. Cohen, it was clear that Maddow found all his techniques to be…let’s say “outside the box.”

But do these appearances help in the struggle for civil rights by pointing out the shameless bigotry and hatred being displayed by individuals like The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown or Maggie Gallagher? Or does it hurt us by giving a national platform to these otherwise fairly anonymous individuals?

There’s also the bigger question of freedom of speech – which is the usual line of defense for the networks when questioned as to why they allowed these people on their shows. This argument doesn’t hold a lot of water for me really though, as you can still speak out without being handed a national platform to do so.

I tend to believe the former, but I live in a major metropolitan area where most of the people I know share similar politics with me. With such a huge influx in LGBT stories in the media the past few years, is it necessary to offer a counterpoint, even when it’s as offbeat and bigoted as some of these examples?

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