(about frogs and canaries below the fold)
So, to use another cliched metaphor, where is the "Canary in the coal mine"? I sit here feeling relatively secure and confident that things are only taking a small reactionary turn, and will swing back sooner or later. Yet, I'd like to know where the "canary" is, what situation is it that I can point to and say "It's starting to get dangerous here".
And then I realized, it is my family that is the canary.
The decade of the 90's saw a lot of changes for gay men and women, legal, media and social; changes that made it possible for my partner and I to announce and have celebrated our relationship, changes that made it 'easy' for us to adopt and create a family changes that have made the mass marriage protest in San Francisco, including ours, even possible. The changes that made Massachusetts the first in the nation with marriage equality.
A backlash is to be expected. For every movement towards equality, Emancipation, Suffrage, Civil Rights, all have had reactionaly backlashes. The backlash was to be expected, perhaps not as harsh, but expected.
But is it just a 'backlash'? The religious fundamentalist right has an agenda and its not just anti-gay. Their 'friend' is in office and they claim victory. My family is the obvious first target. Any rights we have are still in their infancy and weak, we are still hated by a large portion of the population, our position legally and in society as individuals, as a couple and especially as a family, is still precarious. The religious right would like to see nothing better than the roll back of all our rights and acceptance, even tolerance, in society. Make no mistake, just read their web sites and go to their churches, they want us back in the closets and jails. And that is first on their agenda. They are working on it in state legislatures, changing constitutions, bullying media, remaking the courts.
And, if there is not stance stopping them, giving them no leeway, it will become dangerous for my family to remain in the US if we want to remain intact as a family. We always say that if we felt that the integrity of our family was threatened, we'd leave the US. If we felt that the courts, laws and society were getting to the point that it could break up our family, take our children, we'd leave immediately.
And there is your canary. If you start to see hundreds, thousands, of gay and lesbian headed families leaving the country, it's getting dangerous for YOU.
We aren't the only on the agenda, just the weakest and the first. Then come the Muslims, the feminists, the atheists, the secularists, the left, the non-Christian, heck, even the Mormons (if you don't think the religious right hate the Mormons, just watch 'the GodMakers').
Once we go, you are next. Next time you hear an individual (exspecially one of the above or a Democrat) suggest we leave gay rights for a while, or lay low and not stand firm, remind them they are next.
Will we go? I don't know. As i said, I have a lot of faith in this nation and its people. I really don't think we will have to. I feel like a silly tin hat paranoid when I think of these things. But just so I won't be that oblivious frog in cool water, and to be your canary, I thought I'd start keeping tabs on when the heat is being turned up.
So, below is list of incidents since the election that I will update as necesssary. These are events in the media or government that are turning back the clock (turning up the heat) legally or socially. There are several more I've missed. I'll keep looking.
Dec. 24 2004: NPR, that bastion of liberalism, decides to cut out a passage from David Sedaris' recounting of the time he was an elf at Macy's. This story is read every year on NPR since 1992. This year a passage about an innocent flirt between two men was cut.
Update [2004-12-28 17:11:20 by wclathe]: See comment by sarah below, this turns out much more innocent than it appeared at first. Though, if you read the all comments and updates in the link provided, it could be not so innocent either. You can decide if it was nefarious or innocent, it'll still be off the 'list'
Dec. 17, 2004: CBS shows family reunions on finale of survivor, while showing straight contestant's family reunions, pans away from two lesbian contestants. Explanation? "I'd be an idiot not to notice both the way the country voted and the backlash from the FCC that came off of Janet Jackson's [Super Bowl debacle]. I wanted to protect my franchise and didn't think it was right to show both lesbian kisses at 8 o'clock."
Nov. 30 2004:NBC and CBS refuse to run an United Church of Christ ad about tolerance (though there was no mention of 'gay' or 'lesbian' because, as CBS spokesperson said "Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations, and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."
Nov. 24, 2004:Washington Post run 18 page rabidly anti-gay 'advertorial' insert, sees not problem though it was pointed out to them that running a similar 'advertorial' that was racist would be rejected out of hand
Nov. 23, 2004 Hate crimes are reported to the FBI (voluntariy by states) have risen in 2003. One segment that rose fast was those against 'sexual minorities', an underreported category because many states do not consider this a hate crime