Newsweek political reporter Jonathan Darman provided a preview of sorts to the August 9 Democratic debate on the gay Logo cable channel with an article on Democrats seeking votes on the gay left playfully titled "Show ‘Em Whatcha Got: Conscious of their community's financial clout, gay activists want action on equality issues, not just talk." Nowhere in Darman’s story is there a single ideological label that would place gay supporters of the Democrats on the left. But a June story on the state of the Republican presidential race after Jerry Falwell’s funeral was studded with 12 uses of "conservative" or shifting "rightward" or "religious right."
Darman’s story in the August 13 edition began by touting how progressive Hillary’s been on the gay issues and has been "eager to bask in the gay love," but how gay activists are demanding more of a revolution:
Gay men and lesbians have always had a soft spot for Hillary Clinton. In the mid-'90s, when "homosexual" was still a dirty word in much of the country, Bill Clinton and his wife socialized in the White House with a broad circle of gay friends. In the dark days of Whitewater and Monica, gays leaped to Hillary's defense, needing no convincing that a "right-wing conspiracy" was vast and real. At the annual gay-pride parade in Manhattan, drag queens and go-go boys compete for prominence with New York's political elite, but Clinton is always the star of the show.
Lately, Clinton has been eager to bask in the gay love. Her young presidential campaign has already held two fund-raisers with major gay and lesbian donors. This week, after a scheduled appearance with the other Democratic contenders at a forum in L.A. on gay issues, she'll head to a fund-raiser at the West Hollywood gay hangout the Abbey. The attention may be paying off. According to gay journalist Lisa Keen's analysis of fund-raising to date in 2007, Clinton has earned 48 percent of the contributions from heavily gay ZIP codes nationally, compared with 39 percent for Barack Obama and 13 percent for John Edwards.
The rest of the article examines how despite momentum on so-called "gay marriage" and on other issues, the Democratic front-runners aren’t keeping up with the revolution: they’re "identical to those taken by Al Gore and Bill Bradley eight years ago." Darman quotes gay-left activists Alan van Capelle of Empire State Pride Agenda, and Matt Foreman of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, but no one is apparently a liberal.
Now compare that to an article in the June 7 edition by Eve Conant (with assistance from the aforementioned Jonathan Darman), in which there are 12 conservative labels. Newsweek can call a conservative a conservative, but a liberal is only an activist for "equality issues." Here’s the sentences in the Conant piece with the ideological identifications:
– "They'd come to pay their respects to the past, but the talk soon turned to the future. The country's leading conservative Christians convened in Lynchburg, Va., last week to bury the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the televangelist..."
– "Ralph Reed asked me who I was interested in," says Richard Viguerie, the longtime conservative political consultant. Viguerie had no good answer.
– "Conservative Christians were crucial in sending George W. Bush to the White House--and were even more important to his narrow re-election in 2004--but many evangelical leaders complain that he hasn't shown much thanks, and their devotion to the born-again president is waning."
– "Though Bush talked a lot during the campaign about the "culture of life," many Christian conservatives do not believe he uses his bully pulpit enough to denounce abortion."
– "Front runner Rudy Giuliani is tainted by his messy divorces and support for abortion rights--a deal breaker for Christian conservatives."
– "Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney looks presidential and says all the right things, but many evangelicals say his rightward drift on the issues smacks of political opportunism."
– "But so far Romney has failed to convince evangelicals that he is one of them. Some in the religious right talked up Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee, sturdy conservatives with impeccable Christian credentials. But their campaigns have gone nowhere."
– Grover Norquist, the influential conservative strategist and president of Americans for Tax Reform, says that no matter how upset evangelicals may be, they aren't going to do anything that hands the White House to the Democrats.
– "Where you won't see them is working the phone banks or sending out mailings," says Tony Perkins, head of the conservative Family Research Council."
– "It's still early, and there are plenty of candidates--including a few waiting in the wings, such as Newt Gingrich--openly courting the support of conservative Christians."
– "Earlier this month nearly 400 members of the Council for National Policy, a club of Christian conservatives, packed into a hotel ballroom in Virginia to hear him [Fred Thompson] speak."
Newsweek’s labeling imbalance not only ignores that if opposing the "gay marriage" agenda makes you a "conservative," then supporting it ought to earn you the "liberal" tag. It suggests that gay Americans are politically unanimous, that there isn’t a gay Republican or conservative anywhere to be found.
A web-exclusive interview with gay-movement historian John D’Emilio does acknowledge that exit polls showed almost one-fourth of self-identified gay voters did not vote for Kerry, and the interview’s introduction did balance labels with a P-word: "Privately, political strategists say candidates walk a fine line between being progressive on gay issues and possibly alienating some conservative voters, including some Democrats." But they didn't make even a tiny effort like this in the print edition.
PS: Lisa Keen's story in Chicago's Windy City Times also notes that in those gayest Zip codes, "former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani raised the most ( $759,926 ) among the top three polling Republicans, and he even raised more than Democrat John Edwards ( $604,255 )," although his second-quarter numbers weren't as good.