Probably the best example of how the mainstream media completely games the coverage of same-sex marriage is an article from the Los Angeles Times. “Election leaves gay couple feeling isolated in conservative bastion” is about these two heroic lesbians who opposed Proposition 8 while living in a conservative neighborhood in Riverside County.
The piece isn’t awful, it’s just that it’s overbearing in its one-sided sympathy and the silence of the opposite perspective is deafening. Why not write a story about opponents of same-sex marriage who live in a predominantly gay neighborhood? I live in a town that went 95% for Barack Obama. My neighborhood LISTSERV for parents nearly ran a few mothers out of town when they indicated they supported Sen. McCain. One was told that her conservatism would make it difficult for her children to grow up in this neighborhood with friends. My point is just that this Los Angeles Times story did not have to be one-sided. It could have been balanced out by any number of different perspectives of people feeling isolated in an opposing group’s bastion.
Anyway, after explaining how Riverside County has had a dramatic increase in its evangelical and Mormon populations — drawn by affordable housing, good schools and a safe environment — we hear again from heroines Lorian and Darcie Dunlop:
Both women came from fundamentalist backgrounds and attended religious colleges. And both wrestled for years with the guilt they felt over being lesbians.
“I thought, ‘God, you played a really horrible trick on me — making me think this was really disgusting and then making me gay,’ ” said Lorian Dunlop, who plays cello and volunteers in her daughter’s second-grade class.
She and Darcie Dunlop, who runs an accounting business and sings opera, were married in June and have twin 7-year-old girls.
The couple, both 47, moved to Murrieta from Orange County looking for a place with good schools and space for children. They knew it was a conservative town but believed they could fit in.
“We have always lived comfortably with our neighbors and have always been who we are,” Lorian said.
They made friends with evangelicals and discussed their lifestyle.
“I think it’s important to have a diverse group of friends,” Darcie said. “My hairdresser is a fundamentalist Republican who is also a very nice person.”
Now they wonder if their efforts to blend in hurt them.
What in the world is up with the Los Angeles Times‘ obsession with the word fundamentalist? I suppose it’s possible that both of these women and the hairdresser (I wonder what a fundamentalist Republican hairdresser is, exactly) were all members of fundamentalist churches. But considering how the word is either a pejorative frowned upon by the Associated Press Stylebook or a descriptor for a relatively tiny group of Christians, are we sure this is the right word to use? I call horse-puckey.
Anywho, the big gaping hole in this piece is the perspective of the evangelical and/or Mormon friends and neighbors of the Dunlops who voted differently. We have this great personal context for the Dunlops — and it really makes the story pop. How about you walk down the street and knock on doors until you get someone to speak about voting in favor of Proposition 8 and why? Or ask the Dunlops if they know anyone who voted for Proposition 8 — and find out why. Ask them about their relationship with the Dunlops and how it affected their vote, if at all.
Heck, I really, really want to meet this fundamentalist hairdresser! If he’s in the story already, why not give him a ring? The fact is that in a country like ours, everyone who votes on public policy and homosexuality has a personal story. It’s not just gay couples that do. It’s time the mainstream media figured that out.