Monday, April 13, 2009

HRC's David Smith uses coveted MSM airtime to preach complacency to the choir

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), released an ad vilifying the LGBT community as a whole. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) -- of which David Smith is a part -- then (to my knowledge) launched this story. It has been in the main stream media (MSM) since at least Wednesday April 8th.

The interview below took place on Friday April 10th. So David Smith of the HRC, representing the entire LGBT community in America, had at least two full days to familiarize himself with every aspect of the NOM ad. These are the same lies the anti-gay industry trots out on a regular basis, so finding the information necessary to rip it to shreds should have been virtually effortless (read: Google), especially for someone who works for the largest LGBT lobbying organization in the country.

Yet instead of attacking the ubiquitously-used lies in the ad, he squanders coveted MSM airtime to sit back and lazily preach complacency to the choir.

To preach complacency is to teach complacency. David Smith's naïve and carefree approach to LGBT equality exemplifies why even if we were to achieve LGBT equality in this country, we wouln't be able to keep it - nor would we deserve to.

This sit back and relax attitude of his shows just how naïve he is about the determination of our enemy. Personal naïveté is one thing, to go on TV and preach that naïveté on behalf of an organization that boasts of their efforts to fight for LGBT rights, makes his spokesmanship an inexcusable liability to the cause.

[Note: The ED show does not show the full National Organization for Marriage ad. The full ad and transcript of it can be found at the amusing Womanist Musings site.]

Ed Schultz: Welcome back to the ED show. Yesterday on this program we played for you a new TV ad, from the opponents of same-sex marriage. This spot takes a different tactic, a ‘Hail Mary’ pass by conservatives, if you will, and that’s the subject of my playbook tonight. Let’s watch it again:

For the sake of context, I want to address the distortions in the ad before embarking on a long-winded censorious diatribe of Smith's abysmal response to it.


This is the transcript of the NOM ad, the smaller portions in brackets were not included in the ED show clip, but I'm including them to show what HRC's David Smith should have know about and responded to.
1)There’s a storm gathering. 2)The clouds are dark, and the winds are strong, 3)and I am afraid. 4)Some who advocate for same sex marriage have taken the issue far beyond same sex couples. 5)They want to bring the issue into my life. 6)My freedom, will be taken away.

[ 7)I’m a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job. 8)I’m part of a New Jersey church group, punished by the government because we can’t support same sex marriage. 9)I am a Massachusetts parent helplessly watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is okay.]

10)But some who advocate for same sex marriage, have not been content with same sex couples, living as they wish. 11)Those advocates want to change the way I live. 12)I will have no choice. 13)The storm, is coming.

[ 14)But we have hope. A rainbow coalition of people of every creed and color are coming together in love to protect marriage. Visit nationformarriage.org. Join us.

Voice over: Paid for by National Organization for Marriage, which is responsible for the content of this ad.]
Breakdown:
1)There’s a storm gathering.
2)The clouds are dark, and the winds are strong,
3)and I am afraid.
---Fear mongering/scare tactics

4)Some who advocate for same sex marriage have taken the issue far beyond same sex couples.
---Let’s see about that:

5)They want to bring the issue into my life.
---In other words, he owns a TV.

6)My freedom, will be taken away.
---Yes, your freedom to oppress others WILL be taken away.

7)I’m a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job.
---From Box Turtle Bulletin: "This California “doctor” refers to a case that has nothing to do with marriage. Last year, the California Supreme Court ruled that a doctor that offers artificial insemination services cannot pick and chose who to offer services to."

8)I’m part of a New Jersey church group, punished by the government because we can’t support same sex marriage.
---From Box Turtle Bulletin: "This “church group” actually refers to the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which is not a church. It operates the Auditorium Pavilion, which was made exempt from state property tax in exchange for being open for public use and access."

9)I am a Massachusetts parent helplessly watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is okay.
---Full story
here.

10)But some who advocate for same sex marriage, have not been content with same sex couples, living as they wish.
11)Those advocates want to change the way I live.
---I’ll get to those below.

12)I will have no choice.
---Correct, you will have no choice to oppress others with impunity.

13)The storm, is coming.
---More fear mongering

14)But we have hope. A rainbow coalition of people of every creed and color are coming together in love to protect marriage. Visit nationformarriage.org. Join us.
---By using the word “creed,” he’s saying that this isn’t only a supremacist Christian effort, but that many other religions are also involved in the effort.

Sarcastic rebuttal: “It’s not just we Christians who are against same-sex marriages, but every blasphemous and heretical religion who’s adherents are going to burn forever in the lake of fire also support us.”

And as always, to say they are “coming together in love,” is meant to hide the fact that they are coming together in hate.

Actions speak louder than words, and in this case those actions proclaim that lies are truth. As a good friend of mine often says, “A lie in the name of God is still a lie.”
#10 and #11:
Actor #10) "Some who advocate for same sex marriage, have not been content with same sex couples, living as they wish."

Actor #11) "Those advocates want to change the way I live."
I'm sure this has been brought up, but to me, this is patently the most insidiously pernicious and offensive lie of all.

The suggestion of course being that same-sex marriage would be harmful to same-sex couples who do not wish to marry, served on a platter of implication that part of their goal is to protect these "vulnerable" gay couples from we evil stop-at-nothing same-sex marriage activists advocates.

Projectile vomit disgusting aside, Focus on the Family hack, Glenn Stanton, used this tac in his co-written (with FOF's Bill Maier) book "Marriage on Trial." A book written to show the lay bigot how to spread hatred for gays without sounding hateful or anti-gay.
From Chapter 5: Question 2: How would same-sex marriage alienate homosexuals from each other?

Answer. Same-sex marriage will create strong dissention in the homosexual community. It already has.
They go on to "prove" their point with Judith Levine's objection to "marriage itself, gay or straight," and end with "There is a third group among homosexuals, those who say "Marriage, why do we need it?"

Chapter 15 further expounds on this irrelevance: "Do All Homosexuals Want To Get Married?"
---
And now onto the analysis portion of the ED show interview with HRC's David Smith.

Full transcript of ED show clip:
Ed Schultz: Welcome back to the ED show. Yesterday on this program we played for you a new TV ad, from the opponents of same-sex marriage. This spot takes a different tactic, a ‘Hail Mary’ pass by conservatives, if you will, and that’s the subject of my playbook tonight. Let’s watch it again:

“There’s a storm gathering. The clouds are dark, and the winds are strong, and I am afraid. Some who advocate for same sex marriage have taken the issue far beyond same sex couples. They want to bring the issue into my life. My freedom, will be taken away.

Some who advocate for same sex marriage, have not been content with same sex couples, living as they wish. Those advocates want to change the way I live. I will have no choice. The storm, is coming."


Ed Schultz: This ad is a game change for the National Organization for Marriage which created the commercial, has made same-sex marriage about your freedoms, they claim same-sex marriage affects you and your rights.

Some background here, two more states have legalized same-sex marriage this month. And today, New York’s governor Patterson said he’ll support and sign a gay marriage bill.

The Human Rights Campaign released this response to the television spot yesterday. They say “This ad is full of outrageous falsehoods, and they don’t even come out of the mouths of real people.” They’re of course pointing out that this ad has got actually actors doing all of this.

Joining me now is David Smith who’s the Vice President of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian right’s organization. Mr. Smith, thank you for joining us, ah, what’s the big deal? It’s just another ad by an advocacy group. How big is this?

HRC’s David Smith: Well I don’t think it’s a big deal to be honest with you. It’s too bad Boris Karloff isn’t still alive, they could have hired him to really scare people.

Is it going to work? No, of course not. Let’s go back to what they actually--the court in Iowa, one of the states you just referenced said, is that gay and lesbian couples are no different than heterosexual couples. We love the same, we’re committed the same, we parent the same, we look out for one another the same, the only difference is the law treats us differently. And the Supreme Court said that there’s no justification, no constitutional justification to keep these people from being allowed to marry.

Ed Schultz: Mr. Smith, how many other states do you anticipate are going to be following the four states, the most recent, Vermont. How many more states do you think?

David Smith: Yeah, it’s hard to put a number on it, but New York is it as you said, possibly New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, perhaps in the future. So it is something that is being looked at across the country. In California the Supreme Court is deciding whether Proposition 8, which invalidated marriages in that state, should stand. But none the less, if that’s not a successful ruling, it will likely come on the ballot. So it’s an ongoing struggle.

Ed Schultz: Now during the mid-term, do you think it will be back to the g-word for the republicans, you know, that ‘gays, guns, and God,’ I mean here we go. I mean it looks to me like they’ve run out of issues, they don’t want to support the president on anything, so they’re now working over the gays and lesbians.

David Smith: I think they do so at their own peril, the country’s changed. We’re all facing difficult economic times, two wars, if they’re going to focus on attacking people for political gain, that’s not going to sell with the American public, they want solutions for everybody.

Ed Schultz: Don’t you think it’ll sell in Red States?

David Smith: It might sell in some parts of the country, but Ed, I think the country’s changed, it’s changing. This week we’ve seen a turning point. Now we still have a lot of work to do, we have to roll up our sleeves and educate and talk to our neighbors, and show that the sky is not going to fall, as it didn’t fall in Massachusetts or Connecticut, and won’t fall in Iowa, it won’t fall in Vermont.

Ed Schultz: Well the big thing about Vermont, is the fact that there were enough votes through both the House and the Senate to override a veto.

David Smith: Yeah, it’s the first state to pass it through the legislature.

Ed Schultz: Is this a barrier broken? And then Iowa in the middle of the country, in the farmbelt goes along with this. Is this a barrier, and really a red letter day mark in a turning point in America?

David Smith: Yeah, well like a landmark, because it’s the first time marriage was enacted by the legislature. But you know in our history, our nation’s history, the courts have often times been ahead of where public opinion was on a particular issue. But they’ve caught up, look at Massachusetts. There was 42% only supported marriage in 2004 when that was enacted. But 5 years later in 2008, 59% of people in that state support it.

So once they have a chance to live with their gay and lesbian neighbors, they know that there are no problems, and all the threats and all the scary things conjured up in that commercial you just aired, won’t come to fruition, everything will be fine.

Ed Schultz: So do you think that the Federal Marriage Amendment is finally dead in the conservative movement?

David Smith: Well there’s no appetite in Congress for that. It’s never dead, because…it's congress. But there’s no indication that there’s a willingness to move forward on that.

Ed Schultz: Ok, Mr. Smith, good to have you with us tonight…

David Smith: And congratulations on your show.

Ed Schultz: Well, thank you.

David Smith: Yeah, it’s really great.

Ed Schultz: I appreciate that, we’ll sure have you back…

David Smith: Thank you.

Ed Schultz: …as this issue is going to be very contentious in the debate. Thanks so much.

David Smith: Thank you.
First of all, on the the HRC staff page, Smith is listed under "Programs," and not under "Executive," like Joe Solmonese and Susanne Salkind are. Click on the David Smith page, and his title is listed as "Vice President of Programs."
As vice president of programs, David M. Smith directs the policy and strategy of the Human Rights Campaign as well as the public education programs of the HRC Foundation. He oversees efforts related to federal and state legislative goals, political action and electoral strategy, grassroots outreach, media relations and polling research.
1) Either HRC needs to update their staff descriptions page, or David Smith of the HRC did not correct Ed Schultz when he should have.
Ed Schultz: what’s the big deal? It’s just another ad by an advocacy group. How big is this?

HRC’s David Smith: Well I don’t think it’s a big deal to be honest with you. … Is it going to work? No, of course not.
Translation: Do scare tactics work? No, of course not.



David Smith: Let’s go back to what they actually--the court in Iowa, one of the states you just referenced said, is that gay and lesbian couples are no different than heterosexual couples. We love the same, we’re committed the same, we parent the same, we look out for one another the same, the only difference is the law treats us differently.
All of that is a given. We’ve been communicating that for years now and have found that it is grossly insufficient. Why? Because it does nothing to counter the lies and scare tactics that the anti-gay industry churns out in response. For example:

“Activist judges in Iowa have granted special rights to homosexuals - a class that defines itself by its sexual behavior.”

David Smith: And the Supreme Court said that there’s no justification, no constitutional justification to keep these people from being allowed to marry.
What you could have said about the opinion that would have been more effective, was the court’s finding that “The benefit denied by the marriage statute—the status of civil marriage for same-sex couples—is so “closely correlated with being homosexual” as to make it apparent the law is targeted at gay and lesbian people as a class.””

In other words, in addition to saying there's no justification to prevent gay people from wedding, they also said that the targeted discrimination against us, is what defines us as a "class" of people.

Sure, they would have come back with the “a class that defines themselves by their sexual behavior” canard, but at least the concept that we are human beings that don’t define ourselves by our sexual behavior any more so than anyone else would have been put out there for the collective to absorb.

It also would have rebutted the “special rights” canard on every level (hate crimes, job discrimination, etc.).
Ed Schultz: Now during the mid-term, do you think it will be back to the g-word for the republicans, you know, that ‘gays, guns, and God,’ I mean here we go. I mean it looks to me like they’ve run out of issues, they don’t want to support the president on anything, so they’re now working over the gays and lesbians.

David Smith: I think they do so at their own peril, the country’s changed. We’re all facing difficult economic times, two wars, if they’re going to focus on attacking people for political gain, that’s not going to sell with the American public, they want solutions for everybody.
A perfect example of his naïveté. Difficult economic times and being at war are the perfect conduits for ensuring a climate of fear. And when people are afraid and frustrated, they are ripe for manipulation. Which the politicians, especially Republicans, are only too eager to exploit. And scapegoating, and “attacking people for political gain” are tried and true methods that work. And if the past few months have taught us anything about Republicans, if something doesn’t work, they do it more.
David Smith: …if they’re going to focus on attacking people for political gain, that’s not going to sell with the American public, they want solutions for everybody.
The past 8 years disproves that over and over again. Where the hell have you been?
David Smith: the country’s changed.
Indeed.


The adoption of defense of marriage amendments over time.

     No amendment

     Grants legislature authority to ban same-sex marriage

     Bans same-sex marriage

     Bans same-sex marriage and civil unions

     Bans gay marriage, civil unions, and any marriage-like contract between unmarried persons
David Smith: So once they have a chance to live with their gay and lesbian neighbors, they know that there are no problems, and all the threats and all the scary things conjured up in that commercial you just aired, won’t come to fruition, everything will be fine.
And the people who define themselves by their hatred of gays, and who believe that God will punish the U.S. if gay people aren’t quashed in every way possible, will give up, go home and accept their seething rage and terror of God’s judgment as just something they have to live with.

Do you do stand up? You should. In either case, you should quit your day job.
Ed Schultz: So do you think that the Federal Marriage Amendment is finally dead in the conservative movement?

David Smith: Well there’s no appetite in Congress for that. It’s never dead, because…it's congress. But there’s no indication that there’s a willingness to move forward on that.
No, not just because “it’s congress.”

The Federal Marriage Amendment will never die because it’s the one thing that will not only nullify any and all laws supporting marriage equality, but will also make every court in the land subservient to its constitutional definition of marriage - one man, one woman.

It was designed specifically by anti-gay organizations to circumvent the power of the judiciary. Congress is just a pawn to be used to implement it.

[Gratuitous insult redacted]

1 comment:

Scott said...

I would have LOVED to have ran into the guy with the "homosexuals are possessed!" sign.

OMG I'd have SO much fun fucking with him! Linda Blair would have to forfeit any awards she got from 'The Exorcist', to me.