Showing posts with label Media/homophobia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Media/homophobia. Show all posts

October 17, 2016

Fox’s Shepard Smith Comes Out Gay





 

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith came out as gay in an interview Monday.

In Smith’s sit down with the Huffington Post, the anchor denied that his former boss Roger Ailes ever prevented him from coming out publicly.

“That’s not true. He was as nice as he could be to me. I loved him like a father,” Smith said.

Smith indicated that Ailes did not express contempt for homosexuality when he was around him, saying Fox News was a “warm” work environment under Ailes’ reign.

“No, never. He treated me with respect, just respect,” Smith said. “He gave me every opportunity in the world and he never asked anything of me but that we get it right, try to get it right every day. It was a very warm and loving and comfortable place.”

Nevertheless, Smith said trust was lost with Ailes after reports of sexual harassment came to light.
 
“I trusted him with my career and with ― I trusted him and trusts were betrayed. People outside this company can’t know [how painful that betrayal was]. This place has its enemies, but inside, it was very personal, and very scarring and horrifying.”
 
Smith, never afraid to veer from the network’s orthodoxy, was one of the few Fox News anchors who reported on Ailes’ improprieties, leading the coverage when the rest of the network was neglecting the shameful story.

In his interview Monday, Smith suggested a pathway to a new era of Fox News:

“We have to make sure there aren’t young victims wandering around here who need us. We have to get appropriate counselors in here. We have to make sure legally everybody’s protected and have to make a commitment to be the most transparent, open and welcoming organization of our kind in the world, and I’m determined to be a part of the team that makes it happen.”

Several years ago, Gawker heavily pursued rumors that Smith was romantically involved with a male 26-year-old Fox staffer, and that the right-wing news network might be silencing the relationship to conceal the fact that one of its famous personalities was homosexual.


Why did it take so long?

According to Gawker:

 Why did it take Shepard Smith so long to come out? The affable Fox News anchor has a longtime boyfriend, ranks among Fox’s most senior talent, and lives in New York City. It could be, of course, that he’s just a very private person, or—as the Times argued in October—that public attitudes have changed and nobody cares if a famous figure is gay.

Shepard Smith’s Office Romance: A 26-Year-Old Fox Staffer
Shepard Smith, the endlessly endearing (and easily angered) Fox News anchor, has likened the…
Or it could be that, when Smith tried to come out last year, Fox silenced and punished him.

In the summer of 2013, according to multiple sources with knowledge of their exchange, Shepard Smith approached Fox News president Roger Ailes about publicly coming out. The newly attached anchor was eager, at the time, to finally acknowledge his sexuality. “It’s time,” he told Ailes and other colleagues. “It’s time.”

Instead, Ailes informed Smith that the network’s famously conservative audience would not tolerate a gay news anchor. Ailes’ answer was definitive: Smith could not say he’s gay.

“This came up during contract negotiations,” a Fox insider told Gawker. “Shep wanted to and was ready to come out, and Roger just said no.”

Smith, one of Ailes’s first and most loyal disciples, acquiesced to his boss’s demand, and dropped the matter. But the discussion worried enough Fox executives to prompt Smith’s removal, in September 2013, from the channel’s coveted prime-time lineup. According to a Fox insider with direct knowledge of negotiations, Smith’s desire to come out was a large factor in the dramatic move.

“They tried to play it up as a big promotion,” the insider said. “But everyone knew that Shep was getting demoted. And the coming out thing was a significant part of that.”

It’s difficult to square all of this with Smith’s characterization of Ailes as an uncommonly honest businessman, a second father who would never hurt him. “Roger has always had my back and never lied to me and never told me what to say,” Smith said in 2009.

Yet Smith’s demotion wasn’t actually Ailes’s idea to begin with. Nor was Ailes very surprised when Smith finally approached him. “Roger has known Shep has been gay for a long time,” a current Fox staffer said. So why was Ailes suddenly afraid of everyone else knowing, too?

 
A few weeks before approaching Ailes about coming out, Smith surprised Fox staffers by bringing his boyfriend, a 26-year-old Fox producer named Gio Graziano, to a company picnic at Ailes’s compound in Garrison, New York. Held annually on Independence Day weekend, the picnic is a small gathering—only executives, on-air talent, and their frontline producers are invited—so Smith likely felt comfortable bringing along his steady partner.

Despite the intimate venue, the new couple put several Fox executives on high alert. According to multiple sources with knowledge of the picnic, the most dramatic reaction came from Bill Shine, the channel’s Executive Vice President of Programming. Shine “flipped out,” one source said, after* Smith introduced Graziano to attendees. (Within and outside of Fox, Shine, who is 50 and grew up on Long Island, carries a reputation for insensitivity toward gay people. “He’s a major, major homophobe,” a Fox insider said.)

Back in New York City, Shine called a meeting among high-level executives to discuss a plan of action regarding Smith. “His fear was that Shep’s audience would implode,” said an individual familiar with the meeting, during which Shine forcefully argued against Smith coming out. His argument was simple: Our audience is not ready for a gay anchor.

Shine’s plea wasn’t particularly well-received. (“Everyone’s jaws just dropped,” a Fox insider said.) But the potential impact on Fox’s ratings was enough to scare Ailes into believing his lieutenant’s apocalyptic scenario. Fox’s unparalleled numbers are, after all, what give Ailes almost complete autonomy over his channel’s content, and immense power within Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

With Ailes’ approval, Shine quickly choreographed Smith’s move from Fox’s 7 p.m. block, where he anchored The Fox Report, to the 3 p.m. block, where he currently runs Shepard Smith Reporting. Anticipating Smith’s desire to come out, Shine also coached Ailes on what to say when Smith finally approached him.

Ailes, meanwhile, ordered the channel’s media-relations shop to control any leaks or coverage of Smith’s romantic life. To this day, a Fox insider told Gawker, “the P.R. department tries to prevent anyone from talking about Shep’s sexuality.”

(Of course, that hasn’t always worked. When Gawker noted in March that Smith wasn’t attending a gay journalists gala sponsored by Fox News, the P.R. shop scrambled to place Smith on the guest list. “Gawker’s reporting obviously caused them to do that,” said a source familiar with the shop’s decision, which turned out to be less bold than it seemed: Smith showed up with three Fox minders to insulate the anchor from any reporters.)

Shine’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering troubled many at Fox. “It’s totally backwards thinking,” an insider at the channel said. And it flew against the gay-friendly image Ailes had worked so hard to construct among New York’s media elite. The image was always cynical—if Ailes sponsors the N.L.G.J.A., or blurbs Rachel Maddow, both will naturally think twice before criticizing his channel. But it depended on the basic assumption that Ailes didn’t mistreat actual gay people in his immediate vicinity. (He merely employs hosts who bemoan the Girl Scouts’ “homosexual overtones.”)

Smith seems to have brought Ailes, and Fox News, to an impassable contradiction: Either embrace the anchor’s wish to come out (and risk the audience’s revolt or desertion) or completely reject it (and risk Fox’s acceptance among a community for whom coming out is an immutable right). Up until now, very few have known that Ailes even had to make such a choice.

Smith, Ailes, Shine, and Fox News all declined repeated requests for comment.

* Correction: Shine tells TVNewser that he did not attend the picnic. The sentence has been corrected to reflect that Shine negatively reacted after learning that Smith brought his boyfriend to the Independence Day picnic.

Update 1: Smith and Ailes provided TVNewser with the following statement:

This story is 100% false and a complete fabrication. As colleagues and close friends at Fox News for 18 years, our relationship has always been rooted in a mutual respect, deep admiration, loyalty, trust, and full support both professionally and personally.
Update 2: In a statement to Politico, Fox clarified the timeline of Smith’s negotiations over his contract and revised role. Smith renewed his contract on June 7, which Fox noted in a July 2 press release about Megyn Kelly. Over two months later, in mid-September, Fox announced Smith’s departure from the channel’s prime-time block. At the time, Smith told Business Insider that he and Roger Ailes began tentative discussions about a new role for Smith in late April.

August 11, 2016

NBC and It’s Problem with Gay Athletes


Tom Daley and Dan Goodfellow compete in the Olympic men's synchronised 10-meter platform event, Aug. 8, 2016



Many of us have been aware of a problem with NBC and gays, particularly in sports. Outsports.com names particular problems with gays in sports and how NBC deals with their sexual orientation. Its like if NBC was either embarrassed for them or just embarrass to have to deal with these famous athletes just because of who they are which should be none of anyone business but they do have lives and spouses, boyfriends and sometimes even children. Why not just treat them as professionals NBC and forget about the bedroom stuff?


The post below was posted by   on Out Sports

It's been apparent for years.

When Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won gold in the 10-meter platform in Beijing, stopping a Chinese sweep of diving gold on the final dive of the sport's final event, NBC Sports, the perennial broadcaster in the United States of the Olympic Games, failed to mention Mitcham's partner in the stands despite highlighting the partners of other straight athletes. Even worse, the network failed to mention that Mitcham was the only publicly out gay-male athlete at the Games.

When called on it, NBC first argued that the network doesn't discuss sexual orientation (despite the historic nature of Mitcham's win) then offered a terse two-sentence "apology."

Eight years later, nothing has changed at NBC. The network failed to identify Dustin Lance Black in the audience of the men's synchro diving finals as bronze-medalist Tom Daley's fiancé. Not boyfriend, not long-time friend... fiancé. And an Oscar-winning fiancé at that (read: public interest). They are, arguably, the "it" couple of the gay community, yet NBC didn't mention a word.
 
When NBC broadcast the match of Brazilian volleyball player Larissa França, they followed her to the stands where she embraced her wife. NBC commentator Chris Marlowe's color commentary?

"That is her husband. She married Lili in 2013 and Larissa is celebrating with her pals."

Her husband. You can't write this shit. Yet NBC released no public apology, relying on a one-line statement from Marlowe.

At the U.S. Olympic diving trials, diver Jordan Windle was accompanied by his two dads.

"They wouldn't say 'Jordan's dads' during the finals of Olympic Trials," Jerry Windle said. "They just said 'parents.' Then they wouldn't show both Andre and I together like they showed other parents."

Two years ago in Sochi, all of the NBC networks combined offered less than two hours of coverage of LGBT issues, including the new anti-gay law that had been implemented in Russia, during the 18 days of the Winter Olympics. There were mentions of the plight of Russian LGBT people during primetime coverage by NBC Sports, but according to HRC it diminished over time and was mostly pushed away from NBC Sports and onto MSNBC. According to HRC, during two of the Winter Olympic days -- 14 and 17 -- there was no coverage of the issue on any of NBC's networks.

To be clear, this all goes well beyond the Olympics.

For the last few years NBC Sports has employed an avowed proud homophobe, Tony Dungy, as one of its lead NFL commentators. Dungy has raised money to oppose equality for gay people, has said he "disagrees" with Jason Collins being gay and, in a fit of hypocrisy, said he would not want openly gay NFL player Michael Sam on his team.

Of course the network also employs openly gay commentator Johnny Weir. It's the one possible on-air feather in the network's cap. Though Weir's dress and manner leave some reducing him to the role of clown, it's a role he welcomes and plays well while also offering some great figure skating commentary. His antics (while I appreciate them) leave many gay people wishing for less.

Still, it's impossible to make the case that NBC Sports is sensitive to LGBT issues. While NBC has started NBC Out and has a robust NBC-Universal LGBT employee network, that is desperately lost on the coverage NBC provides sports.

While Dungy's continued employment on NBC Sports' cornerstone program is a slap in the face of the entire LGBT community, the subpar job the network has demonstrated covering LGBT athletes and issues at the Olympics over the years is downright inexcusable.

There are plenty of opportunities for NBC to recover. Ten days of LGBTI athletes competing and winning lie ahead. Will the network acknowledge their presence? Simply demonstrate the common courtesy to these athletes they show their straight counterparts?

Frankly, I doubt it. Their failure to properly address the Mitcham snub eight years ago, followed by transgression after transgression, shows very clearly that NBC Sports couldn't care less about gay athletes or gay fans. Maybe ESPN can get in the running to broadcast future Olympics.

June 17, 2015

Russian State Reporter Sorry for Anti Gay Propaganda



There have been some controversial departures from the state-run English-language channel RT in recent years but this is the first time since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis that a high-profile correspondent from a major terrestrial channel has criticised his employer so publicly. 
In an interview with the independent news site, Meduza, Mr Goldenzweig said he was ousted from NTV shortly after giving the interview on June 8 to the Phoenix channel, in which he said that Mr Putin felt “insulted” for being excluded from the G7 meeting of leading states in Bavaria. 
He said he had already decided to leave NTV at the end of July after becoming disillusioned with his work, but he was forced out early after the general director of the channel became enraged at his interview comments.
“I am truly ashamed of what I have been doing for the last year and a half,” he told Meduza. 
Before autumn last year Mr Goldenzweig had managed to avoid politicizing his reporting, producing frequent dispatches about German culture, but he then started to get frequent orders for crude propaganda from Moscow, he said. 
                                                                       

He was told to report that anti-homophobia activists who criticised Mr Putin in Europe were part of a “dirty campaign against the tsar-daddy” and that Angela Merkela, Germany’s chancellor, was a puppet of the US, Mr Goldenzweig explained. 
Another task was to report on demonstrations in Germany of what the reporter called “some freaks” who supported Novorossiya, the word Mr Putin has used to describe areas of Ukraine he believes are Russian. 
Russian state television reports that have been dismissed as false include one that said Ukrainian officials crucified a three-year-old boy, and another that claimed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down last year by a Ukrainian jet. 
Mr Goldenzweig said an objective report he filed about Germany offering compensation to former Soviet prisoners of war was changed to say German officials had deliberately delayed the initiative so that the people concerned died out and there would be less to pay. 
He said that he had gradually learned to compromise with himself over producing propaganda but that, “eventually a firm conviction appeared that I was doing something that was not right”. 
“It was not just a question of conscience,” he told Meduza. “It's simply that you were trained for one trade - journalism - and you find yourself at times doing something completely different. And you realise that the longer you do this rubbish, the harder it will be to get out of this rut." 
Mr Goldenzweig said that he had been left with 352 euros in his bank account after losing his job and expected he would now be unofficially banned from Russian television. But he said he was glad to have “cleansed my karma”. 
In a Facebook post about a collection of his reports on NTV, said: “I apologise for my shameful participation in this disgrace.” 
He added: “That’s it, I’m off for a disinfection.”

April 12, 2015

Homophobes and Idiots Unaware of Parody Don’t Rest Complaints to FCC about SNL






                                                                             

Complaining about Saturday Night Live is a national pastime at this point, but nobody is better at it than the subsection of America that still files official complaints to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). And no one is more outraged by SNL than homophobes, prudes, and people who really hate Justin Timberlake. Well, that and people who don't understand parody.
The Atlantic looked at the last three year's worth of FCC complaints and the patterns are clear. When you feel you have to preemptively clarify that you aren't a prude, you've just proven you probably are a prude.
These are people who identify, in many cases, as white and Christian. Many of them said they were worried about kids hearing bad words. A few made the point of telling the FCC they weren't prudes as a way to justify or at least contextualize their overall complaints. Several were explicit about how they were "extremely offended." The words "smut" and "garbage" came up more than once. The states where the most complaints originated were Texas, California, New York, Michigan, and Colorado...
Among the objectionable material are references to masturbation and to human trafficking ("no laughing matter," someone said). One person complained generally about Miley Cyrus. Lady Gaga, too. And plenty of people were concerned with profanity. Most of the words that people found objectionable were Carlinesque. Others were more surprising.
You can see some of the funniest complaints below. All seem to fall into one of the three big subcategories (homophobes, prudes, or people who really hate Justin Timberlake). Oh, and racists. There's always racists.
  • "Dick In A Box": "It was the Christmas show suggesting that men should give women their penis in a box as a present. I was offended, let alone thinking that younger children would have the opportunity to see the program."
  • More "Dick In A Box": "It was not funny and it was beyond vulgar. The segment even includes Justin Timberlake whom was involved in the Janet Jackson superbowl stunt."
  • Jimmy Fallon/Justin Timberlake Christmas episode: "Last night's airing of Saturday Night Live … was the most filthy, obscene and objectionable program I believe I have ever seen in my life. For a 69-year-old, who has seen a lot on broadcast and cable TV, that is saying a lot … Overtly smutty skits and songs … I found it necessary after a very short while to tune out and switch to PBS, where our still civilized British cousins provide decent and enjoyable programming."
  • "Porn Stars" sketch (featuring, who else, Timberlake): "Simply put an actress portraying a porn star made a direct reference to manually stimulating a horse. The term 'Jacked off a horse' was used."
  • "Djesus Unchained": "It was a bad night in television," one person wrote. "Even the twenty-somethings I was with were shocked."
  • Jamie Foxx: "Jamie Foxx is offensive. I am sick and tired of people being racist on TV because they are non-white. If this were a white person it would have been pulled off the air."
  • "Wilderness Lodge": "I am offended by the gay acceptance message this skit portrays." 
  • SNL's pro-homosexuality agenda: "And you also did nothing when they showed a pro-homosexual episode [with] multiple men making out with each other," someone from Michigan wrote. "Do you have a bias against Christianity and do you have a bias that is for promoting homosexuality?"
  • "Glengary Glen Christmas": "The word 'son-of-a-bitch' was used in a parody of Kris Kringle's elves ... I am offended that we are allowing our culture to devolve language that is not uplifting and only reduces the quality of communication."
  • Drunk Uncle: "The 'Drunk Uncle' character made several vulgar and inappropriate statements regarding breasts—[he] used several nicknames for them."
This reminds us: "Dick In A Box" is still really good.
For more FCC fun, check out 226 pages of SNL complaints from between 2008 and 2012 here [PDF]. People have been complaining about Timberlake for years!

May 1, 2014

Shepard Smith’s Coming Out got him Ailes- kicking him Back into the Fox-closet

 This is been more than an open secret and we have put our two cents in like other bloggers. Now Slate comes out with the story behind the story and here it is as it appeared at Gawker by J.K. Trotter~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~How Fox News Shoved Shepard Smith Back Into The Closet


Why hasn’t Shepard Smith come out yet? The affable Fox News anchor has a longtime boyfriend, ranks among Fox’s most senior talent, and lives in New York City. It could be, of course, that he’s just a very private person, or—as the Times argued in October—that public attitudes have changed and nobody cares if a famous figure is gay.
Or it could be that, when Smith tried to come out last year, Fox silenced and punished him.
In the summer of 2013, according to multiple sources with knowledge of their exchange, Shepard Smith approached Fox News president Roger Ailes about publicly coming out. The newly attached anchor was eager, at the time, to finally acknowledge his sexuality. “It’s time,” he told Ailes and other colleagues. “It’s time.”
Instead, Ailes informed Smith that the network’s famously conservative audience would not tolerate a gay news anchor. Ailes’ answer was definitive: Smith could not say he’s gay.
“This came up during contract negotiations,” a Fox insider told Gawker. “Shep wanted to and was ready to come out, and Roger just said no.”
Smith, one of Ailes’s first and most loyal disciples, acquiesced to his boss’s demand, and dropped the matter. But the discussion worried enough Fox executives to prompt Smith’sremoval, in September 2013, from the channel’s coveted prime-time lineup. According to a Fox insider with direct knowledge of negotiations, Smith’s desire to come out was a large factor in the dramatic move.
“They tried to play it up as a big promotion,” the insider said. “But everyone knew that Shep was getting demoted. And the coming out thing was a significant part of that.”
It’s difficult to square all of this with Smith’s characterization of Ailes as an uncommonly honest businessman, a second father who would never hurt him. “Roger has always had my back and never lied to me and never told me what to say,” Smith said in 2009.
Yet Smith’s demotion wasn’t actually Ailes’s idea to begin with. Nor was Ailes very surprised when Smith finally approached him. “Roger has known Shep has been gay for a long time,” a current Fox staffer said. So why was Ailes suddenly afraid of everyone else knowing, too?

How Fox News Shoved Shepard Smith Back Into The ClosetSEXPAND
Roger Ailes and Bill Shine (Getty Images)

A few weeks before approaching Ailes about coming out, Smith surprised Fox staffers by bringing his boyfriend, a 26-year-old Fox producer named Gio Graziano, to a company picnic at Ailes’s compound in Garrison, New York. Held annually on Independence Day weekend, the picnic is a small gathering—only executives, on-air talent, and their frontline producers are invited—so Smith likely felt comfortable bringing along his steady partner.
Despite the intimate venue, the new couple put several Fox executives on high alert. According to multiple sources with knowledge of the picnic, the most dramatic reaction came from Bill Shine, the channel’s Executive Vice President of Programming. Shine “flipped out,” one source said, when Smith introduced Graziano to attendees. (Within and outside of Fox, Shine, who is 50 and grew up on Long Island, carries a reputation for insensitivity toward gay people. “He’s a major, major homophobe,” a Fox insider said.)
Back in New York City, Shine called a meeting among high-level executives to discuss a plan of action regarding Smith. “His fear was that Shep’s audience would implode,” said an individual familiar with the meeting, during which Shine forcefully argued against Smith coming out. His argument was simple: Our audience is not ready for a gay anchor.
Shine’s plea wasn’t particularly well-received. (“Everyone’s jaws just dropped,” a Fox insider said.) But the potential impact on Fox’s ratings was enough to scare Ailes into believing his lieutenant’s apocalyptic scenario. Fox’s unparalleled numbers are, after all, what give Ailesalmost complete autonomy over his channel’s content, and immense power within Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. 
With Ailes’ approval, Shine quickly choreographed Smith’s move from Fox’s 7 p.m. block, where he anchored The Fox Report, to the 3 p.m. block, where he currently runs Shepard Smith Reporting. Anticipating Smith’s desire to come out, Shine also coached Ailes on what to say when Smith finally approached him.
Ailes, meanwhile, ordered the channel’s media-relations shop to control any leaks or coverage of Smith’s romantic life. To this day, a Fox insider told Gawker, “the P.R. department tries to prevent anyone from talking about Shep’s sexuality.”
(Of course, that hasn’t always worked. When Gawker noted in March that Smith wasn’t attending a gay journalists gala sponsored by Fox News, the P.R. shop scrambled to place Smith on the guest list. “Gawker’s reporting obviously caused them to do that,” said a source familiar with the shop’s decision, which turned out to be less bold than it seemed: Smith showed up with three Fox minders to insulate the anchor from any reporters.)


Shine’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering troubled many at Fox. “It’s totally backwards thinking,” an insider at the channel said. And it flew against the gay-friendly image Ailes had worked so hard to construct among New York’s media elite. The image was always cynical—if Ailessponsors the N.L.G.J.A., or blurbs Rachel Maddow, both will naturally think twice before criticizing his channel. But it depended on the basic assumption that Ailes didn’t mistreat actual gay people in his immediate vicinity. (He merely employs hosts who bemoan the Girl Scouts’ “homosexual overtones.”)
Smith seems to have brought Ailes, and Fox News, to an impassable contradiction: Either embrace the anchor’s wish to come out (and risk the audience’s revolt or desertion) or completely reject it (and risk Fox’s acceptance among a community for whom coming out is an immutable right). Up until now, very few have known that Ailes even had to make such a choice.
Smith, Ailes, Shine, and Fox News all declined repeated requests for comment.
To contact the author of this post, email trotter@gawker.com
[Photo credit: Getty Images]

March 18, 2014

Gay and Progressive Voices Giving a Pass to Homophobia: “”Opposing Gay marriage Not Homophobia”

“If you’re against gay marriage, is that the same as racism?” asks Slate’s William Saletan. His answer is “no.” The question is part of a larger debate that’s recently taken on new fervor in what may seem like the twilight of the fight for gay equality—a question Saletan asks in a related post: “Is everyone who opposes gay marriage a bigot?” He also answers that question “no.”
All these defenses of opposition to gay marriage may have had a certain validity to them once upon a time. But do they today? And if not, why are gay and progressive voices giving a pass to homophobia? I’ll focus here on Saletan’s argument that “opposing same-sex marriage is more defensible” than opposing interracial marriage and that, even though he disagrees with the anti-gay-marriage position, declares it’s not “irrational.”
Saletan’s reasoning is that religious arguments against interracial marriage were “objectively false” and there is “no biological basis” for them, whereas “a rational person can maintain that a relationship between two people categorically incapable of producing children together—that is, two people of the same sex—can’t be a marriage.” He further argues that the fact that “[m]arriage has historically been a sexual institution” can “justify a person’s refusal to accept a same-sex relationship as a marriage.”
In his post on whether fighting gay marriage makes you a bigot, Saletan claims a moral parity between “stereotyping and vilifying” gay marriage opponents and doing the same to gay people. “The rest of us need to broaden our experience,” he concludes, taking seriously those who simply believe, often citing their faith, that “marriage should be reserved for couples capable of procreation.”
These arguments are plagued by logical problems. Saletan acknowledges that upfront, but then he strangely ignores them all, which allows him to conclude that his distinction between racism and opposition to gay marriage is rational. For starters, I think it underappreciates how deep and sincere the racists’ beliefs that rationalized segregation were—thus giving a free pass to people today who use religious beliefs to support anti-gay stances. After all, the religious liberty argument is not that people’s beliefs are “objectively” true but that they are entitled to their beliefs irrespective of whether they’re true—that’s why it’s called “faith.”
Saletan’s other reasoning also falls flat. The fact that something has “historically” been defined in a particular way is not an argument that it should remain that way. If it is, slavery is just fine, and no change is ever good. As for the procreation argument, as Saletan allows, we let all kinds of people marry who can’t, won’t, or don’t procreate. A “biological” argument against gay marriage is no more rational today than it was when used against interracial marriage. That’s particularly the case today, because unlike 50 years ago, childless marriages, second marriages, step-parenting, and other non-procreative pairings are routinely accepted by religious people who continue to single out same-sex unions as uniquely disqualified.
Indeed, divorce and remarriage are strongly condemned in the New Testament (“Anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery"), but there is no serious movement today to ban divorced people from getting married—just gays. If Christian faith, and not problems with gayness, is really the reason you oppose gay marriage, you had better not have attended, served, or approved of a second marriage. If you have, as I suspect the vast majority of gay marriage opponents have, your opposition to gay marriage is highly suspect. (As part of Friedersdorf’s defense of the anti-gay photographer’s position, he mentions that she also declined to take pictures of nudity and violence, neither of which is expected at my gay wedding this fall. The divorce and remarriage question is the far better, and less insulting, test.)
The obvious hypocrisy of the religious freedom argument has for years prompted social conservatives to tie themselves in knots seeking a secular argument for blocking gay marriage, one that appears to be a rational concern about social harms rather than an article of religious faith. Their strongest arguments are still bunk. Yet though he disagrees with them, Saletan accepts as “rational” and “defensible” arguments by the virulently anti-gay conservative Catholic professor Robert George that, in Saletan’s paraphrase, “sex is a much brighter line than fertility or intention to bear children.” The “bright line” argument says that since what gender you are is literally easier to see than deeper and more important things like love, commitment, and responsibility, it’s a reasonable basis for doling out or withholding marriage rights. George actually argues that “an infertile man and woman can together still form a true marriage” while a gay couple can’t because “the behavioral part” of a straight sex act remains “ordered to reproduction even when nonbehavioral factors” like infertility don’t. Slate’s Mark Stern deftly dispatched this argument thusly: “In other words, you should copulate with your opposite-sex spouse not to make a baby, but to behave in a way that would make a baby if you were fertile. Coitus is sacred not as a means, but as a performance.”
Or as I’d put it: Sorry, gays, even though all kinds of straight unions are infertile, just like yours, you just look too different to play our reindeer games.
This is a terrible argument. But is it “irrational”—an important test that’s relevant not only to public debates but to the mounds of constitutional challenges to gay marriage bans? It’s true that not all bad arguments are irrational. Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, perhaps the world’s leading authority on rational behavior theory, notes that rationality “is about logical coherence” and does not require being reasonable. “A rational person can believe in ghosts so long as all her other beliefs are consistent with the existence of ghosts,” he writes. The only test of rationality is whether a person’s beliefs and preferences are “internally consistent.”
That’s a very clear test, and anti-gay-marriage arguments clearly fail it. I have yet to meet a gay marriage opponent who seriously seeks to deprive, by law, a post-menopausal woman the right to marry, or a single person the right to parent, or a divorced person the right to re-marry. To be internally consistent—that is, “rational”—gay marriage opponents who base their position on religious faith or assertions that marriage is about procreation would have to oppose way more than gay marriage. I’m sure there are such cultural luddites out there, but I doubt this is the cohort Saletan is speaking about.
Even if it were, as a matter of law, courts are consistently finding that there is no rational basis for sexual orientation discrimination—including in marriage. The fact that divorce and second marriages are legal means that marriage is no longer what the Bible says it should be. That’s one reason that, in at least a dozen cases in the last nine months, every last one has been decided in favor of marriage equality. Part of Saletan’s hesitation in finding the anti-gay marriage argument bigoted is his belief that there are rational, instead of emotional, arguments against it. If there is no rational argument against it, that position falls apart.
Let me grant that in one important way opposition to gay marriage is more forgivable than opposition to interracial marriage: Gay marriage is a more recent conceptual possibility because gay identity is a newer development than the construction of race. In a sense, since views on this issue have changed so rapidly, it seems only fair to, as Andrew Sullivan puts it, give people “space” to come along, or even to hold bigoted views in peace. But calling these views today “rational” or “defensible,” or saying they can be “accommodated in a decent society,” as Saletan does, is another matter. Moral positions evolve as new information and possibilities become available. And for all the incessant moralizing of the right wing over the last 50 years, the sin of current opponents of gay marriage is an unwillingness to open their minds to change. There comes a time when there’s only one morally correct answer, and the space for having the wrong answer has dried up. I’d argue that time has come.
Nathaniel Frank, author of Unfriendly Fire and a visiting scholar at Columbia’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, is writing a book called The Anti-Gay Mind.

September 11, 2013

Fox Sports Analyst Fired For His Critique of Homosexuality on the Air



Craig James at a press conference during his unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate seat from Texas.Enlarge Image
Associated Press/Photo by Pat Sullivan
Craig James at a press conference during his unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate seat from Texas.
Fox Sports fired college football analyst Craig James last Monday after a video surfaced in which he said he opposed homosexual civil unions. James, a former pro running back for the New England Patriots, made the comments at a debate in Texas during his unsuccessful run in 2012 for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Ted Cruz.  
In the video (see below, beginning at the 3:52 mark), James, in response to a question about whether benefits should be extended to those in same-sex civil unions, refers to homosexuality as “a choice,” adding that those who engage in homosexuality will “have to answer to the Lord for their actions.” He added, “We should not give benefits to those civil unions. … It should not occur. We have to stay strong on this. This is important. … We have a fiscal issue in this country but we also have a moral issue in this country, and as Christians, we need to stand up.”
When asked for comment, a Fox Sports spokesperson told The Dallas Morning News, “We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn’t say those things here.”According to Sports Illustrated, the highest levels of management at Fox Sports had not thoroughly reviewed the decision to hire James.
When James joined Fox Sports Southwest in late August, Mike Anastassiou, the senior executive producer for that Fox Sports regional network, spoke highly of the 52-year-old. “He’s a talented broadcaster who I’ve admired throughout his career. His knowledge of college football and the experience he brings as an analyst will be a tremendous asset to our coverage.”
A star player for Southern Methodist University, James helped the Mustangs win the Southwest Conference championship in 1981 and 1982. After a couple of years in the United States Football League, he played five seasons for the Patriots and then became a sports analyst for CBS, ABC, and ESPN. James made his only appearance for Fox Sports Southwest on Aug. 31.
James is not the first sports broadcaster to come under fire this year for expressing the belief that homosexuality is a sin. In April, ESPN criticized its analyst, Chris Broussard, and apologized to viewers for his comments calling homosexuality a sin. But ESPN did not fire Broussard.

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