By Kaylia Metcalfe
Recently, and understandably, the focus of the LGBT’s political and activist arms has been legalizing (or stopping the illegalization of) same-sex marriage. The latest polls from NBC and the Wall Street Journal put support for same-sex marriage at 53% (up two percentage points from December, although that is within the survey’s margin of error). So, even as we celebrate the news of the (teeny tiny) majority of the people being supportive, we still have a ways to go before true equality.
But let’s take a moment away from that particular kettle of fish and look at a few other issues that warrant our collective attention.
Here we go—my semiannual Grab Bag of LGBT News and Notes you might have missed.
Too “normal” for ratings. The NBC show The New Normal (created by Glee and Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy), which chronicled two gay men, their surrogate and other wacky support characters traversing the highs and lows of creating a new kind of family, has yet to be renewed for a second season. The season finale early in April tied up loose ends with the birth of the baby and the two dads exchanging vows on the beach—a sweet sendoff that could be the series finale.
The show struggled for ratings on a network that has been known for both its liberal viewers and its sitcoms. So what went wrong? Was the lack of ratings a sign of disapproval from the American people? Or maybe a sign of apathy as Modern Family has already filled the “semi-acceptable nonthreatening gay family” niche on TV? Perhaps the shtick of two gay men isn’t all it takes to get people to watch; good writing can make a huge difference.
Hope for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The act, which would provide protection on the federal level for the LGBT community—by prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity—has been introduced in nearly every Congress since 1944 and has yet to pass. Opponents claim that such a law would have little or no effect. But a new study from Rice University, which will be published in the scientific journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law, found that gay and lesbian job applicants received more helpful and less hostile responses from employers in cities that provided legal protection.
Ironic, but true. The U.S. Agency for International Development announced earlier this month a new partnership aimed to promote LGBT rights around the world. Although some might sputter that our own policies need help, the initiative is moving ahead in attempting to expand the capacity of international LGBT rights organizations, gather information about discrimination based on sexual orientation and other noble and expensive goals. As much as $11 million has been promised over the next four years to advocacy groups in Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala and other developing countries.
Domestic partners and the President’s budget. It is doubtful that the President’s proposed budget will be passed (at least in its current form), but in the event that it is, federal health insurance benefits will be expanded to domestic partners of federal employees by adding the option of “self plus one” as a way of acknowledging the many types of families and groupings out there.
Currently, the Office of Personnel Management is legally prevented from providing coverage to same-sex domestic partners due to both the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Of course, if media predictions can be counted on, DOMA might be ruled unconstitutional before too long.
Could the issue of gay marriage lead to a three party system? Prominent conservatives are threatening, in the most diplomatic way possible—by public letter—to cease their support for the GOP should the party change its stance on same-sex marriage. The letter also asks the GOP to pass a resolution that would reaffirm the party’s 2012 national platform, which included language calling for bans on abortion and same-sex marriage.
Whether this move is all bluster or if there is a chance of a fissure in the Republican Party remains to be seen, but everyone is watching: “This letter makes it perfectly clear that the GOP is caught between a rock and hard place. For decades, they’ve made a devil’s bargain with the Religious Right, and now they’re finding that they can’t reach out to moderate voters without totally alienating the base,” said Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way.
And finally, the 23rd Annual Central Valley and Fresno’s GLBT Pride Parade and Festival will take place on June 1 in the Tower District from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Kaylia Metcalfe is a writer, blogger and activist in Fresno. She is a cofounder of Skeptics Without a Cause and serves on the Gay Central Valley Board of Directors. Her short story collection Links is available at www.amazon.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.