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The Advocate: Preferring Bush-bashing to Gay Advocacy

A few days ago, when I opened the latest issue of The Advocate, I was delighted to see a letter from Editor-in-Chief Anne Stockwell, headlined, “Our New Hero . . . Arnold?” I had assumed it would be a balanced piece, noting that despite Governor Schwarenegger’s veto of gay marriage, he had compiled a pretty decent record on issues, signing a number of bills (many endorsed by the left-leaning gay advocacy group, Equality California) designed to benefit gay people.

In her piece, however, Ms. Stockwell mentions none of those bills, nor even references the Governor’s strong support for the state’s landmark domestic partnership program.

Instead, seething with contempt for the President of the United States, she faults the Bush Administration for holding that the new federal energy law prevents states from enacting their own fuel-efficiency regulations. And she commends the Golden State’s Republican governor for daring to defy this order. Commending him not for his record on gay issues, but for standing up to the Bush Administration. On a non-gay issue.

For this, Stockwell writes, “On this issue, at this moment, it behooves us to kiss and make up with Arnold.” Making up with Arnold because he’s defying George W. Bush.

I guess we know what’s really important to this magazine which styles itself as a voice of the gay and lesbian community.

And it’s not just conservatives taking note of the Advocate‘s agenda. A liberal reader wrote in*:

All these years of reading The Advocate, I assumed it was a magazine devoted to gay and lesbian issues. Now you seem to indicate that the main focus is to be the environment?? Get real!!!

Actually, the main focus (at least of the opinion writers)for the past few years, has been criticizing the Bush Administration and Republicans while heralding those in the entertain industry who also engage in Bush-bashing. I mean, Bill Maher as their 2006 Man of the Year, a year when unheralded activists in Arizona actually accomplished something to benefit gay people (defeating a state initiative banning gay marriage and civil unions). George Clooney as their cover boy?

Both men are known for their vitriolic anti-Bush comments, rhetoric similar to the language of Ms. Stockwell’s post.

If the Advocate is to be serious about advocating for the gay people, then its editors need to stop saluting public figures merely because they take on the president and his Administration. And they need to start honoring those people working hard to improve the lives of gay men and lesbians, particularly those individuals who don’t gain much recognition for their efforts.

That would include such Democrats as Arizona state representative Kyrsten Sinema who led the 2006 campaign to defeat her state’s proposal to deny recognition of same-sex couples. And such prominent Republicans as Arnold Schwarzenegger, but not for his stance on global warming, but instead for signing a raft of pro-gay legislation. And even the Vice-President of the United States who publicly opposed the President Bush on just one issue since he was tapped as his running mate, a proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage.

While Ms. Stockwell may disagree with Vice-President Cheney on other issues, he has spoken out on behalf of gay people. And isn’t that what her magazine is supposed to be doing? Advocating for gay men and lesbians?

————–
*When I searched for “Our New Hero . . . Arnold?” through the search engine on the magazine’s website, I came up with this letter, but not the article.

UPDATE: Via James Vaughn of Log Cabin notes that the Governor signed all the legislation Log Cabin supported (except marriage) and even backed a bill they were opposed and two on which they were neutral. Here’s their Golden State legislative scorecard. But, this pro-gay record is not what Ms. Stockwell finds praiseworthy.

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23 Comments

  1. If someone were to publish a gay-issues magazine which recognizes that most gays are independent thinkers, it would quickly overtake the circulation of our current community mags. These mags seems sadly out of touch with the diversity of the modern gay. The never-ending kiss-ass treatment for Democrats and the assumption that all gays are begging for the big government (and more control over their lives by committees filled with straight people) is soooo 1970’s.

    Comment by MikeInSedona — January 25, 2008 @ 7:27 pm - January 25, 2008

  2. I have read this post and the two below with great interest. I am “straight” and I have been around for 66 years. I am conservative and involved in my neighborhood, my town, the local university, and a number of state and national interests. I have a number of gay friends and associates.

    I care a great deal about gays being treated fairly and with respect.

    Here is the bottom line: gays who form monogamous relationships and keep their sex lives personal and private are readily supported and protected by my conservative, straight peers. A few of my peers may try to “convert” a gay, but we all have to live with and among those who feel a missionary zeal.

    These posts tell me that the issue is really between the cultures of conservative gays and those who demand a political (force of law) solution.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 25, 2008 @ 7:45 pm - January 25, 2008

  3. Perhaps the end of the Bush-Chaney administration next January will allow the Bush-Derangement fever to break over at HRC and the other G/L advocacy organizations and G/L publications, and get their focus back on promotong G/L rights and NOT just the Democrtatic Party’s agenda regardless of how if affects the overall G/L community.

    Comment by Ted B. (Charging Rhino) — January 25, 2008 @ 7:49 pm - January 25, 2008

  4. Actually, I have a story about The Advocate’s coverage of the the enactment of AB 205 (the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003), and it is, of course, completely ridiculous. I had followed AB 205 closely because as a labor lawyer it had the potential to impact significant workplace rights (i.e. entitlement to a DP’s pension benefits, qualification under medical/leave laws, etc.) The law gave California registered DPs all the rights and responsibilities enjoyed by “spouses” under state law. It WAS landmark. It took a law that previously only allowed DPs to register with the state largely symbolically (with limited “spousal rights” like hospital visitation), and transformed it into a law guaranteeing community property rights, divorce, custody, inheritance and so many other rights to DPs. In my view, as a gay man and as a lawyer, it was a BIG FU*KING DEAL!

    Shortly after it went into effect, I was visiting a friend and I picked up his copy of The Advocate (I certainly don’t subscribe). I saw that there was an article about AB 205. I stupidly assumed that the article would focus on what a stunning victory AB 205 had been for gays.

    Wrong.

    The brief 1 1/2 page item contained a perfunctory reference to AB 205’s new definition of “spouse” (clearly just to provide some paltry background for any readers who had never heard of it), and then addressed the REAL ISSUE at hand…

    Since AB 205 changed a largely symbolic law into one with significant rights (AND RESPONSIBILITIES!), gays who had registered under the previous law were given a statutory window to file a document with the Secretary of State “opting out” of the new law. The reason, of course, was because some gays who registered under the previously benign law might decide they didn’t want to suddenly wake up with the whole shebang (i.e. community property obligations, having to go to divorce court to end the union, etc.) The Advocate’s article focused exclusively on one couple who were “seriously considering opting-out” of the new law even though they had been together for many years. The Advocate baldly asserted that the opt-out option was being considered by scores of California registered DPs. Why? Because many gay men who were registered as DPs were HIV positive and dependent on life-preserving, expensive drugs. Since many men were receiving benefits that significantly reduced the cost of the drugs, they were planning to opt-out because if the state regarded them as “spouses,” BOTH OF THEIR INCOMES COULD BE CONSIDERED TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE HIV+ PARTNER WAS ELIGIBLE FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFITS AND DISCOUNTS.

    This, The Advocate indignantly claimed, was an outrage and the harrowing legacy of AB 205. Translation: we deserve all the rights, but actually requiring us to undertake the responsibilities is just another form of cruel discrimination.

    I WISH I were making this up. I couldn’t believe how obtuse the article was. Of course, this type of obfuscation is to be expected from the gay press, but since that time I have seen what a disservice these rags have done to the gay communities they are supposedly trying to keep informed. We have all encountered those garden-variety homos that just spontaneously start bitching about how hateful and bigoted it is that George Bush won’t allow gays to get married, blah blah blah. When I see this, I try to make a point to calmly ask the individual whether he or she has heard of AB 205. Blank stare. Nothing. Crickets.

    By now, readers of The Advocate can probably walk their friends through a global warming power-point, but they don’t have a clue what rights they actually have. Of course, hatred, division and bigotry sell magazines. Reporting on real progress on civil rights issues might harm circulation and The Advocate can’t have that.

    Comment by Sean A — January 25, 2008 @ 8:58 pm - January 25, 2008

  5. Since many men were receiving benefits that significantly reduced the cost of the drugs, they were planning to opt-out because if the state regarded them as “spouses,” BOTH OF THEIR INCOMES COULD BE CONSIDERED TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE HIV+ PARTNER WAS ELIGIBLE FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFITS AND DISCOUNTS.

    And that is why so many seniors in Arizona wanted to keep domestic partnerships — because, were they to marry, their Social Security benefits would be reduced.

    Whenever a gay couple (especially in CA) whines about not being able to get married, I ask point blank if they already have their domestic partnership registered.

    Most don’t. And if you want to be mean, you ask afterwards, “Why do you want marriage when you aren’t taking advantage of what you already have?”

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 26, 2008 @ 12:52 am - January 26, 2008

  6. Hey NDT,

    It’s been a while since I found myself in that particular situation, but there are two instances that stand out. When I asked one Bush-basher if his opinion was at all affected by AB 205, he just looked at me like I was speaking Mandarin. To his credit, he at least admitted he didn’t know what I was referring to and let me tell him about the law. He just listened for a couple of minutes and then graciously said he was going to look it up on the Internet and learn more about it. (I think he was a little embarrassed that he’d entered the room, activist guns a-blazin’ and then realized he had some homework to do). But it was refreshing for someone to at least implicitly acknowledge that the existence of the law might shade his thinking a bit.

    The other occasion that stands out was much worse. A casual acquaintance that I was talking to started going on a vulgar anti-Bush tirade, made all the more passionate because we were in a bar and had been drinking. When I asked him what he thought about the DP law, he just looked at me kind of wild-eyed and asked “what’s that?” I told him that it was a new law that allowed gay men to register with the Secy of State as DPs and that it would confer all the benefits afforded to hetero “spouses” under state law. I started listing all the various benefits DPs were now eligible for and he just started shaking his head back and forth while I was talking. I said, “what?” He then told me “that’s not true.” I said, “what’s not true?” He said, “gays can’t get married.” I said, “well, it’s virtually identical to marriage” and again started listing the various rights for him. He just kept shaking his head and then interrupted me saying, “No, no, no, no, no, no” until I just stopped talking. He didn’t want to hear it. It’s times like that that I think to myself–ummm, what was gained by that? Why would I even bother? I think I’ve finally learned to just keep my mouth shut when one of those people shows up–the type that just starts making grand, loud pronouncements of the statements on their bumper-stickers. They just want to say those things–they aren’t even particularly interested in anyone agreeing with them, much less starting some debate. I just ignore those guys, they’re beyond help.

    Comment by Sean A — January 26, 2008 @ 5:15 am - January 26, 2008

  7. Sean, your second story is down right depressing. There is a large segment of the population that wants pie in the sky. When reality offers real hope – they don’t want to hear about it.
    Of course what that person was looking for was not the right to marry. Rather some magic wand that would make any differences between gays and the public at large just disappear. I’m sure you never got there, but such people only want more rights, the mere whiff of responsibility is verboten.

    I know a couple who have signed up for AB205, never made a big issue out of it. They are simply grateful that the state is rewarding then for responsibilities they took on long ago with well deserved benefits.

    Comment by Leah — January 26, 2008 @ 1:38 pm - January 26, 2008

  8. Um, why are you reading “The Advocate?” It’s slut slush for lib-bots.

    Comment by Crow — January 26, 2008 @ 5:25 pm - January 26, 2008

  9. Given this blog, Crow, I kind of need to be familiar with what they’re saying. But, believe me, I get your point. 🙂

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 26, 2008 @ 10:22 pm - January 26, 2008

  10. Does anyone still read the Advocate? I stopped back in the late 90s when I realized I was getting more in depth coverage of gay issues in the mainstream press. It’s just “Gay People” now and has been for a long time.

    And yes, they bash Bush. Why shoudln’t they? He ran a presidential campaign touting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. You don’t expect gays to return the hostility? He deserves a lot worse than he’s gotten.

    Comment by Houndentenor — January 27, 2008 @ 12:20 pm - January 27, 2008

  11. #10: “Does anyone still read the Advocate?…And yes, they bash Bush. Why shoudln’t they? He ran a presidential campaign touting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. You don’t expect gays to return the hostility? He deserves a lot worse than he’s gotten.”

    You’re right, Houndentenor. Why waste the money on a subscription to The Advocate when you already have its editorial position embroidered on a pillow in your living room?

    Comment by Sean A — January 27, 2008 @ 1:20 pm - January 27, 2008

  12. I am reposting my comment from the previous post:

    Speaking of which, has anyone seen this story regarding how gay groups are “frustrated” at the way the campaign is going?

    Very telling opening graph here: “Few constituencies are as eager for the Republican Party to falter this political season as gay-rights activists.”

    Huh?? What about LCR? What about us, for goodness sakes?

    Here, let me fix that line:

    “Few constituencies are as eager for the Republican Party to falter this political season as LIBERAL gay-rights activists.”

    Now it makes more sense.

    Regards,
    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — January 27, 2008 @ 3:53 pm - January 27, 2008

  13. No surprise there. Late last year The Advocate had a positively glowing portrait of Ms. Rodham Clinton for its cover story on her.

    Comment by Jeremayakovka — January 27, 2008 @ 4:07 pm - January 27, 2008

  14. He ran a presidential campaign touting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. You don’t expect gays to return the hostility?

    So did John Kerry and Harold Ford.

    Both of whom were fully endorsed and supported by HRC leaders and gay Democrats to the tune of millions of dollars and shouts of “pro-gay” and “gay-supportive”.

    So as we see, clearly gays and lesbians have no problem with constitutional amendments. That demonstrates quite nicely that their Bush-bashing is nothing but hypocrisy on their part.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 27, 2008 @ 8:38 pm - January 27, 2008

  15. No, John Kerry did not support the federal gay marriage amendement. He did make a statement one day about a state ballot initiative and later retracted it. Kerry was an idiot and he lost. I’m tired of defending him too, but don’t distort what really happened. He didn’t make a campaign centerpiece out of being against equality for gay people.

    Comment by Houndentenor — January 28, 2008 @ 10:24 am - January 28, 2008

  16. Call me disappointed and cynical, but I can’t help feeling that as headlines go, “The Advocate: Preferring Bush-bashing to Gay Advocacy” is a case of “Dog Bites Man”. (hmm… works on multiple levels)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 28, 2008 @ 12:28 pm - January 28, 2008

  17. No, John Kerry did not support the federal gay marriage amendement… He didn’t make a campaign centerpiece out of being against equality for gay people.

    I’m afraid there is some strong evidence against your view, Houndentenor. If memory serves, Kerry said, on national TV in one of the Presidential debates, something very like “President Bush and I have the same position on gay issues. The exact… same… position.”

    I’m sure Kerry told a different story to gay audiences, when he wanted their dollars. 100% sure. But that just goes to the issue of his basic duplicity / moral emptiness.

    Also, it’s worth noting in general (or apart from these points) that in the 11 states that had anti-gay-marriage initiatives on the ballot in 2004 and that passed them, Bush generally did *worse*, and Kerry *better*. In other words, a LOT of Kerry supporters / Democrats were out voting for those initiatives.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 28, 2008 @ 3:17 pm - January 28, 2008

  18. Perhaps the Republicans wouldn’t have this reputation of anti-gay rhetoric (or perhaps it would be less) had they not become so closely aligned with fundamentalist religion who have very clear anti-gay agendas. This has been fueled even more for nearly 30 years and is one of the “great legacies” of Ronald Reagan. If the republicans really believed in the rights of the people, then large groups of them wouldn’t spend so much time making gays second class citizens.

    Comment by Kevin — January 28, 2008 @ 6:25 pm - January 28, 2008

  19. #18 – Kevin, I know this may tax your already swamped single-digit brain cells, but can you please point to ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE that shows the so-called “anti-gay agenda” was one of Ronald Reagan’s “great legacies?”

    If not, your argument – and you – are without merit.

    Conversely, I can point to at least two instances where Dhimmicrats have produced an anti-gay agenda:

    1. Clinton’s refusal to veto DADT, which was the parliamentary equivalent of allowing it to pass into law;

    2. John Kerry’s 2004 speech that ILC quotes above.

    Prove me wrong.

    Regards,
    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — January 28, 2008 @ 7:38 pm - January 28, 2008

  20. Try again, Houndentenor.

    Kerry FULLY supported constitutional amendments banning marriage, including in Massachusetts.

    He stated publicly, as ILC referenced, that he had the “same position” as Bush.

    And, as I pointed out, HRC and gay DNC leaders CLEARLY endorsed and supported FMA supporter Harold Ford, as they did FMA supporter Inez Tenenbaum in 2004.

    All of these people, despite fully supporting the amendments that liberal and Democrat gays allegedly hate, received tens of millions of dollars from gays, endorsements, and shouts of “pro-gay” and “gay-supportive”.

    You claim you’re tired of “defending Kerry”. Then don’t. Blast him as a homophobic hatemongering bigot, just like liberal gays do to any non-Democrat who holds any position anywhere close to his.

    But then you and they would have to explain why you gave him so much money and support.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 28, 2008 @ 10:02 pm - January 28, 2008

  21. Been away for a bit. Time to catch up. To whit:

    #7
    Of course what that person was looking for was not the right to marry. Rather some magic wand that would make any differences between gays and the public at large just disappear.

    Sorta how racism will NEVER go away. There’s too much money to be made. What’s more, a large section of the population won’t have their victimhood crutch anymore and might actually have to get along with others and have a productive, happy life.

    #15

    but don’t distort what really happened. He didn’t make a campaign centerpiece out of being against equality for gay people.

    To my knowledge, nobody has. If you can prove otherwise, I’m all ears.

    #18

    Perhaps the Republicans wouldn’t have this reputation of anti-gay rhetoric (or perhaps it would be less) had they not become so closely aligned with fundamentalist religion who have very clear anti-gay agendas.

    By that logic, you’d think that liberals would have a reputation as corrupt racists. However, for some reason, people keep voting for them.

    How many liberals have indicted and/or arrested donors now?

    Now as to liberal candidates and gay marriage:

    Hillary Clinton opposes gay marriage.
    John Edwards opposes gay marriage.
    “Barack the Magic Negro” opposes gay marriage.
    John Kerry opposes gay marriage.
    Algore opposes gay marriage.

    Long story short, the only liberals in the last 8 years who have supported gay marriage is Kucinich and Gravell.

    If gay liberals were consistent, you would oppose them just as much as you oppose Bush, but you don’t. Kerry and Bush had the SAME opposition to gay marriage, but supported the state’s right to decide if they wanted Domestic Partnership or not. These were public statements by both candidates.

    The simple truth of the matter is that, by your definition, you CANNOT call one a homophobic bigot and not the other. Otherwise, you’re a lying, hypocritical, worthless POS who should be scoffed at on a regular basis.

    Further, by stating that you’re tired of defending Kerry, that tells me that you know damn well that you’re wrong, but lack the testicles to say so directly.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — January 29, 2008 @ 1:26 am - January 29, 2008

  22. The most important thing here is that marriage is not the only issue. Considering that Bush fought, as governor and as president, to preserve Texas’ sodomy laws, there was no way I could vote for him. Kerry was not a good candidate, but he was better than the alternative.

    Comment by Houndentenor — January 29, 2008 @ 12:08 pm - January 29, 2008

  23. Or at least that’s what gay Democrats say AFTER they’re cornered on why they gave tens of millions of dollars to FMA and state constitutional amendment supporters and called them “pro-gay” and “gay-supportive”.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 30, 2008 @ 6:41 pm - January 30, 2008

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