John Shields

Capital Pride: Was it All About Same-Sex Marriage?

Filed By John Shields | June 15, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics

Either I must be missing something or the Washington Post sent exactly one reporter to cover Capital Pride and he stood for precisely 10 minutes on a single spot during the week of events, commemorations, parades and festivals. It's been a whirlwind of activity in our nation's capital, but here's what our hometown newspaper - and one of the largest newspapers in the country - had to say in the opening paragraph of a very short article about Capital Pride - and the article was only about same-sex marriage:

There was a sense of urgency, a sense of defiance, in the way same-sex couples held hands or pushed their children in strollers yesterday at the Capital Pride festival. Politics nearly always takes center stage at the annual event set in the shadow of the Capitol, and the couples this year had something specific on their minds.

Same-sex marriages -- the legally recognized kind.

Wow~! We held hands and pushed our kids in strollers~! That's it? What about John Berry, the highest-ranking official in the Obama administration, talking from the main stage about the pending hate-crimes bill? What about Martha Wash singing "It's Raining Men?" What about headline act RuPaul talking about the importance of mentoring to LGBTQ kids?

What is disturbing about this type of coverage from The Post is the reporter framed the article as if there was only one issue on the minds and in the hearts of the LGBTQ community.

From the events commemorating gay icon Mr. Frank Kameny to the parade and festival itself - there were many things going on. Yes, same-sex marriage was one of them - but so were many other things, causes and celebrations.

First, the politics. Here's a rough transcript of John Berry, the highest ranking LGBTQ official in the Obama administration, speaking from the main state on Sunday about the Obama administration's plans for hate crimes legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Oh, and same-sex marriage.

The Obama administration hopes to secure passage of Hate Crimes this coming week and that President Obama is soon to announce an initiative pertaining to providing federal LGBT employees with benefits equivalent to those provided to their heterosexual counterparts. He also said the administration fully intends to pass an employment non-discrimination bill, repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and overturn the Defense of Marriage Act "before the sun sets on this administration."

There was headliner RuPaul belting out her wonderful songs, but also talking about the importance of mentoring LGBTQ youth:

There was also eye candy for nearly anyone's taste, parents pushing strollers (although I did not see a lot of "defiant" parents pushing their kids through the crowds), a kid's play area, a disco area and food and vendors along Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and the White House. And what gay pride wouldn't be complete without a main stage filled with dancing, singing and Martha Wash and "It's Raining Men," - this year under a perfectly blue sky.

The video cuts off Ms. Martha Wash right at the end - somewhat akin to the Washington Post article cutting out everything about Capital Pride except same-sex marriage - but you get the idea. The crowd was fun - it didn't look "urgent" or "defiant" to me - and there were lots of us queers doing lots of different things. Including talking about same-sex marriage.

And yes, there were several organizations - including D.C. For Marriage - asking for people to sign petitions, volunteer or call their congressional and state representatives.

But there was so much more than just that single issue during the events of Capital Pride, and yet the Washington Post decided to write about a single issue, instead of reporting on the diverse and empowering events of the week. You should see some of the comments on the Post "article" - the loonies are coming out of the wood-work. If this is what the Washington Post is becoming - a "rag" - then cancel my subscription now.

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James Richardson | June 15, 2009 3:09 PM

I really don't believe everything Obama tells the LGBT community, directly or indirectly.

I think his statements on Friday regarding DOMA speak volumes towards his views on LGBT rights.

John, I hear your comments about being "single issue", but I think we're beyond that point right now.

While some of us may not have picked now as the ideal time for many of these gay marriage debates, that is the conversation people are having now. Neither the MSM nor any broadly-accessed part of non-traditional media are talking about ENDA, but they are talking about marriage...and, with great respect for the power of technology, we are not going to get them to shift to the topic of "our" choosing just because we want to talk about it.

Marriage is *the* public debate right now, so we had better engage completely in it whether we would choose it or not. Of course we should all still call about all the other issues in front of us, but even if those activists that insist any "marriage talk" is destructive, that horse is out of the barn.

John Shields John Shields | June 16, 2009 5:37 PM

As is hate crimes legislation, as well as the hot-potato called Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

We need some leadership on this issue - from our representatives in the United States Capitol building, as well as from the Obama administration. The time for us to sit down and shut up is over.

And there's more: HRC is thinking of pulling out of next week's DNC $1,000 per person gay fundraiser. How's that for a hot potato?

Bob Summersgill | July 14, 2009 11:57 PM

Eh, Capital Pride is just a party. It isn't a political event, and it isn't done to get the attention of Congress. It is just a party.

Marriage is the issue in local DC LGBT issues, because we are ahead of the country on nearly everything else. We got non-discrimination legislation in 1974. Hate Crimes in 1987. Sodomy law repeal in 1993. There are countless smaller and less sexy issues that have been handled and corrected over the years. Numerous smaller issues are yet to come quietly.

The way to our recent sucesses on marriage has been paved over the past 10 years in a series of about 15 bills that dealt primarily with domestic partnerships. They also prepared the DC law by removing every obstacle to marriage equality that could be found.

Next year we'll be back to the mundane and low-profile issues that few will notice.

And we'll be back to partying at Pride.