2 New York tabloids demonstrated this morning why it is so easy for Democratic politicians to not take the issue of gay civil rights more seriously.
Back in the early 90s, when I first came out and began my glbt newsfeeds, I focused on the way that newspapers covered glbt issues. I did this, recognizing that what people read each day in their local paper went a long way towards shaping their perceptions on glbt issues. The same holds true today.
One of the main reasons that attitudes towards gays have been gradually improving and evolving over the years is that there is generally far fairer coverage than there was 20, 30 and 40 years ago. Look back at pre-Stonewall coverage and one can see how far we have come.
Yet, we still have a long way to go.
New York City employs 10s of thousands of New Jerseyites, who make a daily commute in, before trekking back to the Garden State. Many of these workers are gay. There is a reason that New Jersey stories merit extensive coverage in the 2 big city tabloids.
Yesterday, there was a highly significant vote in the New Jersey Senate that effectively confirmed the 2nd-class status of New Jersey's gay citizens, as gay marriage got defeated 20-14 in the state Senate.
Here is how both local papers covered it:
Both the Daily News and NY Post used a very abbreviated Associated Press story (no local reporters) and each relegated the story to the shortest space possible.
In the Post, the story was buried on page 11. Ironically it was about 1/10 the size of a feature on Ellen Barkin's busted heterosexual marriage, which was above it. Actually, Barkin's picture was 5 times larger than the gay marriage piece.
Flirting with disaster
The Daily News (pictured above) was slightly better, in one way, and far worse, in another. At least they put the story on page 3, which showed some sense of the vote's importance.
What made the coverage so offensive? The Daily News headline: "N.J. ends its flirtation with gay marriage bill."
Ends its 'flirtation?'
This is a civil rights issue, but the headline writer at the Daily News makes a mockery of this with a lead-in like that.
If we want to be taken seriously, we need to make sure that the news outlets that cover issues vital to us do the same.