Magazine article Variety

Reality - and Activism - Defeat Prejudice

Magazine article Variety

Reality - and Activism - Defeat Prejudice

Article excerpt

There has been a dramatic shift in public opinion of same-sex marriage. What do you attribute it to?

Reality. In the early 2000s, the anti-same-sexmarriage people couldn't say what they really meant, which was, "We don't like gay and lesbian people, and we hate the idea of two of them being happy." Which was just based on prejudice. But that wasn't going to sell. So they invented this argument that it would have negative consequences: "If you let them get married, it will destabilize society." That was very frustrating; if we couldn't disprove that, it might sound plausible. That is why the (2004 court) decision in Massachusetts was so critical. Once we actually had same-sex marriage, I was convinced we could show that all these predictions of negative consequences were untrue. And that is what happened. The reality beat the prejudice.

Do you think the media has influenced public opinion?

I think the media on the whole lagged rather than helped. There were some exceptions. Ellen DeGeneres was a thoughtful, responsible person. She helped a great deal. But many of the portrayals were not helpful, and certainly did not cause (the shift). I don't think Jack in "Will & Grace" in any way increased respect for us. I did not like "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." I thought that emphasized stereotypes.

How does the LGBT movement convey the idea that there are still a host of other issues to confront?

The major issue, which has to be done at the federal level: protection against job discrimination. That needs to be resolved. The other is to say that you can't have a religious exemption from anti-discrimination rules. The business community has essentially told the people who want to mistreat us that it is interfering with their ability to make profits. In America, link up the moral argument with the profit motive, and you have a pretty tough coalition. The likelihood of substantial religious-based loopholes to these laws is very slight. And, very important: You can win your rights legally, as we have seen with African-Americans, but attitudinal prejudice can still be a problem. The next time you have a Democratic House, Senate and president, you will get a good anti-discrimination law protecting people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

What Is the most homophobic moment that you experienced? …

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