Sometimes a news story is late in getting reported.
You wonder why, at first, until you realize something: the media simply may not want to report it.
Well why in the world, you might ask, would the media not want to report a good story?
Simple: they have a vested interest in keeping the myth alive.
So let Freeline Media be the first to report it then, and see if CNN, Fox News, and The New York Times all follow.
America, the culture wars are over.
This is particularly true when it comes to one issue that still seems to burn up every election season: gay rights.
Freeline Media is here to report that the battle is over, and the gays won.
I thought about this on Saturday night while watching the local news coverage of an event going on this weekend, called Gay Days Orlando 2013. It’s an event that started back in 1990, when a small groups of local gays and lesbians decided to visit Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom together. Today it’s a week-long event hosted by a major hotel, Doubletree by Hilton on International Drive, and is a series of activities — from comedy shows to a Taste of Gay Days food bonanza, meant to draw visitors from across the globe. In an economy still struggling to overcome the collapse of the housing market, you can bet those cash registers are going ca-ching, ca-ching.
The coverage by Channel 9 News in Orlando was of the gay visitors and their friends and supporters visiting Disney and wearing red t-shirts to symbolize their pride in being gay — and being able to be who they are.
Absent from the scene were any protesters, complaints or dissenting voices about letting gays and red t-shirt wearers flock into a family-friendly tourist attraction. And why not, I thought. As the news also covered devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma and wildfires out west, an improving housing market and presidential scandals, the likely reaction among millions to an event like Gay Days seems sure to be: Yeah, who cares?
It wasn’t always this way.
Two years after the first Gay Days, failed presidential candidate Pat Buchanan spoke at the Republican National Convention and declared that this nation was in the midst of a “culture war,” and for the next 20 years, the media and special interest groups left and right have been riding that wave. But is it still true?
While special interest organizations like the Human Rights Campaign (pro-gay) and the Family Research Council (social conservatives) battle it out on those CNN and Fox interviews, America has largely moved on. They will argue, I suppose, that the ongoing battle over the issue of gay marriage shows how deeply divided this nation truly is. In 2012, North Carolina, which had voted for President Obama in 2008, switched and voted for Republican Mitt Romney, and at the same time voters supported a ballot measure to ban gay marriage.
In November, President Obama was easily re-elected after becoming the first president to endorse gay marriage, and three “blue” states — Washington, Maine and Maryland — voted to keep gay marriage laws approved by their state Legislatures, while a fourth blue state, Minnesota, rejected a ballot measure to ban it. Another blue state, Wisconsin, even became the first to elect an openly gay candidate, Tammy Baldwin, to the U.S. Senate.
The problem with reviewing this stuff is it’s always seen through the lens of politics. That gets lots of coverage because it sounds like a good news story: the ongoing and tense battle between gay activists and social conservatives.
Truth is, though, this is mainly a manufactured story. Those special interest groups keep it alive because it’s their raison d’etre: fund-raising. Gay rights groups mail out shrill fund-raising letters warning that the Religious Right is about to take away all their rights, so send money; and social conservative groups send out shrill letters warning that the “Homosexual Agenda” is about to destroy traditional marriage and the traditional family, so send money. The two major parties worships these PACs because of their fund-raising abilities above all else. Why do we keep forgetting that politics is as much about money as ideology?
Nothing like keeping your job and salary in a truly pathetic way.
In the meantime, let’s face it, America has moved on. Beyond the politics, has anyone noticed how positively mainstream the gays have become?
Television sit-coms and dramas and Hollywood movies feature gay characters who are the clever, funny next door neighbor that everybody likes. Game shows like “Jeopardy” feature gay contestants all the time.
The Supreme Court tossed out Colorado’s ban on local gay rights laws and the Texas “Sodomy” law (banning sex between two adult men, even if it is consensual), ruling that the government has no legitimate reason to target this one particular group. An appeals court in Florida tossed out the Sunshine State’s ban on gay adoption for similar reasons.
Major sports figures like NBA player Jason Collins announce they’re gay, and everyone shrugs. Today gays on major talk shows are more likely to be talking about fashion trends than the battle for acceptance.
Major conservative groups like the National Rifle Association publish ads in gay magazines, urging gays to bun a gun to protect themselves from gay bashers. Businesses target gay consumers — and, hey you know they’ve got disposable income — and woo gay employees with offers of anti-discrimination policies and domestic partner plans. No Affirmative Action needed here.
A growing number of states are passing laws banning discrimination against gays — laws that seem obsolete because public attitudes have changed so quickly that few if any gays seems likely to be fired just for telling their employer that they’re not straight. Even Chick-fil-a, the fast-food chicken restaurant that drew controversy because owner Dan Cathy gave money to groups fighting gay marriage, probably has thousands of gay employees.
And then there are all those churches that are fighting to accept gays. Even that bastion of traditional values, Boy Scouts of America, voted to allow gay teens to be members.
Social conservative groups continue to warn that the gay rights agenda is a threat to traditional values, but this argument is getting increasing stale for a reason: the gay agenda is all about traditional values. Gays want to get married and be monogamous. They want to raise families. They want to serve in the military and be welcomed in their local church. Gays have become the biggest squares in town. No wonder the public is hardly worried about this agenda.
Some will say the nation remains deeply divided on the issue, and point to all the folks leaving the Boy Scouts because of the new, more tolerant policy. But so what? In a nation of 300 million, you can find Americans who argue passionately about whether vanilla or chocolate ice cream is the best. That doesn’t stop millions of gays and lesbians from living their lives freely in all 50 states (some more welcoming than others.)
So this week, gays in sunny Florida joined the rest of our tourists in flocking to the theme parks, wearing their red t-shirts to show their pride in being who they are. The public barely winked.
And even though that may seem like a minor story, truth is, it’s a very big one, indeed.
So we say it again: politics and fund-raising aside, the culture wars are over.
Contact Mike Freeman at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.