This whole thing started out as an objective (as much as I ever can be) discussion of how every story that was shuffling around the Montana dailies websites deemed it appropriate to discuss the new same-sex marriage ban challenge without including any of the language that Governor Bullock sent out in support of just such a lift.
I had salient points about LGBT rights in Montana and the history of the legislators for whom it was deemed safe to engage with those issues, my issues, because they themselves were gay or lesbian. I had cogent thoughts about why leaving out that statement of support was damaging to the narrative and message because it removes a very prominent figure in this discussion from the discussion which relegates such a powerful message to the same status as the list of who got appointed to Capitol Complex Board (look it up).
But it is important. It’s important to LGBT Montanans. It’s important to the #MTpol community. It’s important to me. This is THE public figure in Montana saying that the way a BS law in my state treats the community is crap and needs to be changed.
There have been (and are) plenty of openly, proudly gay and lesbian members of the #MTLeg and they have done great things. They’ve made impassioned pleas and taken historic actions in returning respect and full service of law to LGBT Montanans. Add that to the thousands of employees, supporters, and peers that work every day to continue those motions forward, and it’s really heartening. It almost makes you feel like there’s a chance the State of Montana respects us.
But for every one of those greats moments, there are hundreds more that take place over conference tables, microbrews, text message strings, and strategy meetings where a heterosexual public figure says, “I’m really in support of [pro-LGBT measure], but you know, I just can’t [vote, say, do anything] because [it’s too polarizing, it’ll isolate the moderates, I can’t find my metaphorical balls].” If people handed me a Skittle every time they shook my hand or pulled me aside and stage whispered me some version of that line, I’d be Willy Wonka. Hell, I’d probably be the Mars Company too.
The Montana newspapers’ decision to not include any piece of that supportive statement in their ‘breaking story’ is just another Skittle. It’s the sweeping pro-LGBT stances under the rug until one more heterosexual decides it’s cool to be down with the gays. I mean maybe it was all the plan of the Governor’s team to keep the comments on down-low so the papers didn’t catch wind of it. Though, I doubt that. It’s on Twitter.
It’s freaking Facebook official.
In fairness, every story does quote the lovely people from the ACLU about the importance of the filing and that’s great, really. Please quote them. And MHRN. And the Pride Foundation. All full of well-spoken, highly-educated and passionate people who can effectively discuss policy and humanity with ease and confidence.
But, amazing as they are, these people are already part of the narrative. In many cases, they are the narrative. Mainstream media intentionally leaving out a new, strong voice of support perpetuates a version of the narrative that the gay issues belong in the hands of the gays and are only cared about by the gays and their already established allies. Not including or seeking out statements from public figures on these issues is lazy and hurtful. It’s not biased or unbalanced to include that kind of information, it’s accurate reporting. If you want balance, then quote some TEA Party-er who thinks this will degrade the family unit (heck, Jason Priest’s thoughts on that are court records), quote GOP leadership, quote literally ANYONE from the Montana Family Foundation mailing list. They’re not shy. Really. Ask Bozeman.
But, seriously, stop ignoring statements of support on these issues. All it does is make it okay for others to hide behind closed doors with their support. It makes sure that the only voices in this narrative are the gays and their incredibly vocal detractors. LGBT Montana’s aren’t hidden, so their supporters shouldn’t be either. We’re out. We’re elected. We’re employed. I’m just as much Montana as everyone else, and I’m seriously sick of Skittles.