Gabriel Arana is a senior editor at The American Prospect. His articles on gay rights, immigration, and media have appeared in publications including The Nation, Salon, The Advocate, and The Daily Beast. To contact him, visit his website.
Today, the Movement Advancement Project, a think tank funded by major LGBT donors, released a progress report that tracks various indicators of LGBT rights over the last decade. As one might expect, the results are mixed. Since 2000, 26 states have banned marriage through a statewide vote; two more states have banned gay adoptions (bringing the total to 6); murders against LGB people have about doubled; more LGB students report being harassed at school; and HIV infection rates for gay men are up 10 percent. But it's not all grim -- gay-rights issues continue to gain public support:
The Brookings Institution recently released a study on education coverage that found reporting on the issue accounted for only 1.4 percent of all news. It's a paltry figure, and while the report provides some suggestions for how schools can make themselves more newsworthy, a lot of the blame falls on reporters:
Reporting should become more proactive and less reactive. Much of coverage today is episodic and driven by events. Focusing on long-term trends would help to inform communities about the content of education and ways schools are seeking to move forward.
New York State Sen. Diane Savino first made a name for herself as a labor activist for the SSEU. She's been a staunch defender of workers' rights, helping raise the state's minimum wage for the first time in a decade and passing the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights. But since the failed gay marriage vote in New York, she is getting considerable attention nationwide for her impassioned speech before the vote:
Kathy Stickel at a gay-rights supporter rally the day before election day in Portland, Maine, on Monday, Nov. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)
On Nov. 4, 2008, when the polls closed on the West Coast and media outlets reported that California voters had passed Proposition 8, gay-rights supporters across the country were stunned. How could the purported gay haven of California—home to Hollywood, Harvey Milk, and the Castro—have rejected same-sex marriage?
In a story that's provoked justified outrage, the Army has threatened single military mom Spc. Alexis Hutchinsonwith a military court marshal for refusing leave her 10-month-old and ship off to Afghanistan when none of her family members could care for the child. In a compassionate display of flexibility, her superiors offered her the alternative of putting the child in foster care. The whole episode seems to be a the result of military keeping an inadequate and inconsistent family policy.