If there is one term the gay and lesbian movement should consider banishing it is “movable middle”, which refers to fence sitting heterosexuals who can be persuaded to support equality. This phrase is a misnomer, because it implies that people must leave the mainstream and join a “wing” if they conclude that anti-gay discrimination is unjust.
The concept of a “movable middle” on gay rights is just as absurd as offering a similar designation for those who are enlightened and have overcome racism or Anti-Semitism. This fictitious category is really just shorthand for people who haven’t thought through LGBT equality or do not see how it impacts their lives.
So, what we are really talking about is a large group of individuals, of all political stripes, who are not conscious of the harm their silence is causing innocent people. Thus, the key to success becomes transforming the apathetic into the energetic by imparting a deeper understanding and connection to this issue. And this is happening more every day.
For instance, ultraconservative icon, Grover Norquist, joined the Board of the Republican gay organization GOProud. He did so in spite of strenuous objections from Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council (FRC) which declared that Norquist, “seems prepared to compromise a unified conservative movement in order to appease a tiny minority of the overall population.”
As more people across the political spectrum come to see homophobia as a moral evil, groups such as FRC will be increasingly marginalized. Even as FRC penned its bitter screed against Norquist, another conservative icon, Ted Olson, was delivering his brilliant closing argument in court to overturn Proposition 8, which prohibits marriage equality in California. It must have stuck in the FRC’s craw when Olson told a group of law students that the marriage case, “is the most compelling, emotionally moving, important case that I have been involved in my entire life.”
Unfortunately, social changes, from increasing LGBT acceptance, to the election of Barack Obama, have inflamed America’s extremists. Each day, the nation’s fanatics seem to be sinking to new depths, and these zealots are driving the GOP further to the fringe.
For example, while we’ve always known our opponents are an oleaginous bunch, they went overboard when they accused Obama of “extorting” money from BP, after he got the company to commit $20 billion to help people whose lives had been upended by the mess. While it wasn’t surprising that oil company shills in Congress condemned the President, it was peculiar that a fanatical mega-church in Fort Lauderdale claimed in that BP’s compensation amounted to a socialistic power grab.
“We’re moving into uncharted and troubled waters as the president assumes power over private industry not granted under the Constitution or our laws,” said Dr. Jerry Newcombe, host and co-producer of the new documentary from Coral Ridge Ministries, Socialism: A Clear and Present Danger. “His harsh diktat sounds more like Hugo Chavez than Thomas Jefferson.”
When the oil spill was first reported, Texas Gov. Rick Perry called it an example of, “acts of God that cannot be prevented.”
Given this medieval mindset, it was no surprise that Louisiana designated Sunday as a day of prayer to end the spill. “Thus far efforts made by mortals to try to solve the crisis have been to no avail. It is clearly time for a miracle for us,” read a state resolution.
God wasn’t amused. The oil is still flowing into the Gulf and God fried an Ohio mega-church idol known as Touchdown Jesus with a lightning bolt.
Such radicalism, of course, extends to old-fashioned homophobia. In addressing a crowd in Iowa, the National Organization for Marriage’s Maggie Gallagher said, “We’re here, we’re not queer, get used to it.” Embarrassed that her bigotry was recorded on video, she tried to pass off her reprehensible remark as a joke.
In a spasm of anti-gay zealotry, Texas Republicans rolled out a new platform that supports legislation that would make it a felony to issue a marriage license to gay couples as well as for an official to perform a marriage ceremony for same-sex partners. The deranged document includes statements such as, “We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family.” The platform also calls on the state to outlaw all “sexually-oriented businesses” — including strip joints and “all pornography.”
While the term “moveable middle” may not be an accurate description of potential gay rights supporters, it is fair to say that there is a “move to madness” by our foes. Deep down they know they are slowly losing their grip on power, which is causing many to lose their grasp of reality.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”