August 8th, 2006
I mean no disrespect to residents of Mississippi. Or Virginia for that matter.
But there’s no denying that Ole’ Miss’s reputation was severely battered during the civil rights struggle of the 1950’s and 1960’s. The murders of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, was depicted in the movie Mississippi Burning, and that movie’s title became a national shorthand to describe the poor reputation that had befallen that state.
I could just as easily have asked, “Is Virginia the New Alabama?” or, “Is Virginia the New Little Rock?” — anything to arrest the impulse to title this post with the overworked phrase, “Virginia Isn’t For Lovers.”
But two recent articles in the Washington Post led me to compare Virginia in 2006 to the Deep South in 1956. A couple of parallels are striking. It appears we are seeing examples of some rather frightening attacks against a hated minority, a minority whose rights are persistently and severely hampered by that state’s legal strictures. And we are seeing a migration of that minority to safer locales.
The parallels mostly end there, of course. Gays and lesbians are allowed to vote, enroll in college and drink from any water fountain they choose. Sexual orientation is excluded from their hate crime statutes, but thankfully there are no lynchings that I’m aware of. It’s unclear to me whether gay Virginians are protected from discrimination in employment and housing. But no matter the shortcomings there, the situation in Virginia is nothing like what African Americans faced a mere generation ago. Not even close. It would take a special kind of chutzpah to even try to equate the two.
No, there is no equivalency whatsoever between the two situations, but there are certainly some cautionary parallels.
The first article in the Washington Post detailed the recent vandalism to a gay couple’s home in Loudoun County, Virginia. Normally, when you think of vandalism, you are probably more likely to think of spray-painted graffiti, some broken windows, stuff like that. This, however, was much more severe:
It was early one recent Saturday morning when Heyward Drummond noticed that something was wrong. Still in his bathrobe, he shuffled down to the end of his driveway in Aldie to get the newspaper. That’s when he saw it. The word was written in looping white script on the driveway, on the mailbox, on a nearby fence: “FAG.”
Then Drummond smelled gas. Wide brown zigzags stained the lush green lawn where vandals had poured gasoline. Someone had pulled up dozens of boxwoods and chopped down Leyland cypress saplings that Drummond and his partner, John Ellis, had planted. Drummond couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
David Weintraub, president of Equality Loudoun, tied this incident to heightened tensions over that state’s proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage, a trend that others have noticed as well. (For more information on the link between the gay marriage debate and hate crimes, see our report, When Words Have Consequences.)
And that gasoline, by the way, was poured in a trail that led right up to the front door. What sort of message do you think that was meant to impart? Mr. Weintraub thinks it’s not difficult to decipher it at all:
“I think the intent of the message is ‘Get out!’ They’re hoping that we will shut up and get out and sell our homes,” Weintraub said.
And it appears that many gay and lesbian Virginians are acting on that message.
A second Washington Post article reports the rising trend of gays and lesbians in Virginia selling their homes and moving out of state:
Many gay people in Virginia and some family-law attorneys say they worry that the state law and proposed amendment are more far-reaching than simple bans on gay marriage — that the measures could threaten the legal viability of the contracts used by gay couples to share ownership of property and businesses.
The exact effects are unclear, and the 2004 law remains untested, but some gays say they fear the laws could affect their ability to own homes together; to draft powers of attorney, adoption papers or wills; or to arrange for hospital visitation or health surrogacy.
…Others say they want to avoid possible legal problems, particularly if they want to have kids. In 2002, for example, an Alexandria family court ruled that a father would lose custody of his son unless the father’s male partner, who had lived with them for five years, moved out. In 2004, a Winchester judge ruled that the female partner of a woman who had borne a child in 2004, whom the child had called “mama,” had no legal custody rights and that the woman who gave birth was the “sole parent.”
So gay Virginians are leaving, migrating from a place where they feel persecuted and unsafe, to where they know they can better protect themselves and their families — in a move that harkens back to the post-war Black migration from the Deep South. And considering how the states left behind by those African-Americans families were held back in so many ways — economically, politically and culturally — during the turmoil of the civil rights era, it’s appropriate to wonder what Virginia stands to loose in all this. Virginia is certainly losing more than a despised minority; it’s fast losing its reputation as a decent place for all of its citizens to live and work. Maybe Virginians should ask the people of Mississippi what the cost of that might be.
But hey, let’s look in the bright side. At least nobody burned a cross on Heyward Drummond and John Ellis’ lawn. To find that, you’ll have to go to Tennessee.
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.