Gabriel Arana is a senior editor at The American Prospect. His articles on gay rights, immigration, and media have appeared in publications including The New Republic, The Nation, Salon, The Advocate, and The Daily Beast.
The irony of having an ex-gay conference at a popular gay vacation destination was lost on few in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the National Association for the Research & Therapy of Homosexuality held its annual get-together in November. There was another twist: In a hotel less than a mile from the NARTH reunion, a handful of gay-rights organizations -- -Soulforce, Box Turtle Bulletin, the National Black Justice Coalition -- put together the first Anti-Heterosexism Conference, populated mostly by ex-ex gays -- those who had been in therapy but "relapsed."
This slipped under my radar, but David Kaufman at HuffPo has a stinging diatribe against Andrew Sullivan for suggesting that the fight for marriage rights is equivalent to the Civil Rights Movement. Part of me agrees that it's somewhat problematic that the "separate but equal" analogy has become a gay-rights orthodoxy. I have argued vigorously that the marriage issue does not compare in scale to segregation, where blacks were barred from attending certain schools, restaurants, etc. -- not just the institution of marriage.
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.