Here we go again. Recently I complained in this space about The New York Times giving the Bush administration a hand in spinning its position on gay marriage.
As far back as July, Times’ reporters had taken to interpreting comments from President George W. Bush calling for respect during the debate over gay marriage as a signal of the president’s compassionate feelings for lesbians and gay men.
Mind you, the president has not uttered the words gay or lesbian in public since taking office, but when Bush issues one of his messages of tolerance, The Times, after listening to some taxpayer-funded PR from the White House press office, dutifully reports that Bush was talking about us.
I had thought that the paper couldn’t sink any lower on this score, but on March 1, Elisabeth Bumiller gave readers one hell of a stinker.
“When President Bush announced his support last week for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, his body language in the Roosevelt Room did not seem to match his words,” Bumiller wrote. “Mr. Bush may have forcefully defended the union of a man and a woman as ‘the most fundamental institution of civilization,’ but even some White House officials said he appeared uncomfortable.”
Let me understand this. This reporter is divining the president’s real views on that amendment by reading his body language? The Times has launched a whole new field of reporting here.
What’s next? Will reporters at that newspaper be slaughtering chickens and reading their entrails to write pieces on the amendment’s future? Perhaps The Times can hire a medium to get deceased politicians to weigh in on the topic. Or maybe this story is pure bullshit.
Bumiller doesn’t stop there.
“His more moderate supporters, on the other hand, worried that he might look like a gay basher,” she wrote. “Mr. Bush’s friends say that is hardly the case and that the president is quite comfortable with gays.”
We get a quote from the First Lady saying they have gay friends and then an anecdote from a transgendered woman who knew Bush at Yale. When the two met at a class reunion last year the president was “completely comfortable,” we are told.
“He leaned forward and gave me a little sort of smile,” Bumiller quotes the woman saying. “I thought it was a sincere thing, and it was very charming.”
We even get the gratuitous assertion that the Bush administration has actually given political appointments to homosexuals. Let’s dispense with that garbage right now. The gold standard on that score in the Clinton administration which hired roughly 200 openly gay or lesbian people over eight years.
When the Bush administration hits that number I’ll be impressed. This story is astounding.
No one in the queer community has complained that the president doesn’t like us. No one has said we feel he needs more gay friends.
Our objections are to his policies and to his stated desire to make us second-class citizens by enshrining anti-gay bigotry in the U.S. Constitution.
One of the versions of the Federal Marriage Amendment would ban gay and lesbian couples from marrying and entering into civil unions or domestic partnerships. The second has language that could be interpreted to roll back laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. We would feel like we are living in the 1970s.
The president doesn’t hate you, according to The New York Times. He actually likes you. He just wants to act as if he hates you. So when you can’t get married or when you are fired from a job because you are gay or lesbian, don’t worry. George W. Bush, the man who made that possible, is your friend.
©2004 Community News Group