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GOP Group Attacks “It Gets Better” Campaign

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2011
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Last Friday, the entire Massachusetts — minus one — posted this YouTube video for the “It Gets Better” campaign against LGBT bullying and suicide. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) was conspicuously missing. According to Marie Diamond at Think Progress:

Sen. Brown (R-MA) was invited to be in the video, but declined. When asked about the decision, Brown spokesman Colin Reed said it was because Brown’s “main focus right now is on creating jobs.”

The LGBT leaders, including two Massachusetts lawmakers, agreed that Sen. Brown’s refusal to participate in the video sends a disturbing message to the staggering number of LGBT youth who are being bullied and harassed every day. They also said the snub was simply the latest in Brown’s long record of “being anti-LGBT friendly,” in the words of Jennifer Chrisler.

LGBT activists and political leaders in the state recalled instances in which Brown worked against marriage equality and anti-discrimination efforts. That criticism has gotten under the skin of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, whose communcations director Brian Walsh went on the attack personally against Dan Savage:

If, as the old saying goes, you’re known by the company you keep, than the voters of Massachusetts deserve to know who Democrat Party operatives are teaming up with to spread outrageous attacks on Scott Brown’s character.

It’s truly reached a new level of desperation in their efforts to tear down Scott Brown, but we look forward to hearing whether state and national Democrat leaders agree with Dan Savage’s long history of lewd, violent and anti-Christian rhetoric. Given their press conference call today, one has to presume at this point that they do.

Savage responded:

I am not the IGB project. The project has had the reach and impact that it’s had thanks to tens of thousands of people from all over the world who’ve participated. [A]nd no one who participates is required to crawl into bed with me. ..:

Savage notes that among those who have participated from all walks of life from all over the world, “not a single GOP elected official can bring himself or herself to make a video, or participate in the creation of one. No GOP elected official can risk being seen letting bullied LGBT kids know that life isn’t high school and that it will get better for them.”

Comments

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Steve
July 28th, 2011 | LINK

I’ve had my ambivalent moments about IGB which don’t need to be aired here.

This thought by Joe Sudbay is 100% on target, though: Seriously, the “It Gets Better” videos are about saving kids. Clearly, that’s not a GOP priority.

Same goes for the ex-gay industry, in my experience.

Graham
July 28th, 2011 | LINK

Dan Rather? I think you mean Dan Savage.

Matt
July 28th, 2011 | LINK

Yes, let’s use teen suicides as a way of scoring political points.

Your headline says “GOP Group Attacks It Gets Better Campaign,” but why only focus on that? After all, what apparently happened is that the Massachusetts Democratic congressional delegation got together to make a video, and then issued a press release to use that action against Brown. What a cynical move.

Timothy Kincaid
July 28th, 2011 | LINK

Jim,

First, you have a typo. They didn’t attack Dan Rather.

But I also have to disagree with your perspective on this.

First, I applaud the others, all Democrats, for participating and I commend them for avoiding any partisan reference. Unlike some “It Gets Better” videos, this didn’t feel like either a political ad or pandering. This was a very cool ad.

But I do not equate Brown’s decision to avoid the video with some indication of view or position. When you are the sole member of your party, you are rightly cautious when invited to be involved with ANYTHING over which you cannot control the image or spin.

And frankly, some of the Massachusetts Democrats have, shall we say, rather emphatic partisan loyalties. If I were
Brown, I would be suspicious.

And, as it turns out, this video was used primarily to attack Brown. Yes, it is a great ad. Yes, I applaud the effort. But it is far far more visible as an anti-Brown tool than it is ever likely to stand out and reach youth.

And the NRSC did Brown no favor either. Assuming that Brown’s constituents think like they do, they ran with the wackadoodle response. Point a finger at the nasty homosexual.

At this point Scott Brown is in the middle. If he’s smart he’ll get with Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe and a few others and make their own video of support. But he’ll probably just hope it blows over.

I wish that a broad range of Republicans – including the wingnuts – could agree that they don’t want children dying and participate in this message.

But that is a lose-lose proposition. The anti-gay activists would throw fits and give them grief. And our community would say, “yeah, well you voted this way on that bill and WE DONT WANT YOUR FRIGGIN VIDEO”.

So it isn’t likely.

TampaZeke
July 28th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, I think you inadvertently made an important point. Republicans CAN’T make a “It Gets Better” video when their voting records are a big part of what makes life so bad for gay people.

They are very well aware that the point will be glaringly obvious and embarrassing for them.

MsRowena
July 28th, 2011 | LINK

I don’t doubt that this was to some degree a political ploy to embarrass Brown. But, having said that, I also don’t believe Brown supports true equality for our people. I’m old enough that I’m not terribly forgiving on that issue.

I’ve seen too much.

If Brown is another politician who won’t do something as helpful and well-meaning as this video because he fears not getting re-elected or fears political repercussions from his own party, well, then, he’s just a typical politician and doesn’t deserve my sympathy or respect. If he won’t do it because he doesn’t agree with it, seriously has conflicts with it because of his faith or beliefs, then ……

he definitely doesn’t deserve my sympathy or my respect.

End of story for this old broad.

Timothy Kincaid
July 28th, 2011 | LINK

Zeke

Yep… its a cyclical thing.

The problem is that due to the wingnuts’ culture war, for a long time our community has been the symbol of all that is evil. And now its hard even for the younger not-insane Republicans to take any position other than opposition without getting “the base” threatened against them. Even “don’t kill yourself”, a position that everyone could support if not for the Culture War, is taboo.

When homophobic Rick Perry said that NY’s decision is ok for NY because he supports the 10th amendment, WND ran an article saying that this made him unacceptable. Perry is no friend, but he wasn’t enough of an enemy for the purists.

And we play along too. The stories that covered this story presented every anti-gay vote Brown ever made and gave little importance to his support of the DADT repeal. Which kinda punishes him for giving us the support… I was hoping that biggie vote would buy him at least the benefit of the doubt.

I think that if we let up a little on some of these guys who help us sometimes, we’d get more support.

And MAJOR KUDOS to the community in NY who are following up by giving to the Republicans who voted for marriage. That’s the way we win in the long run. We will never lose the loyalty of those four Republicans and if they don’t get booted in the primary then it will give permission to more.

At some point many Reps – especially younger or in more liberal states – will no longer feel trapped into the official anti-gay position. And then if will be like dominoes.

I hope.

Jim Burroway
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

I think it takes a special kind of vision, shall we say, to see this ad as an anti-Brown ad. It clearly had as script, if there was something Brown was uncomfortable with I’m sure they could have worked something out. But listen to the ad again. I cannot imagine what anyone could find so offensive about it. If Brown was offered a spot and he declined, then yes, the Massachusetts delegation ad suffers from his absence, but it was because of is decision that his absence is noticeable. His support for DADT’s repeal only makes this snub all the more puzzling.

I cannot imagine what political calculus tells him that turning down this invitation works to his advantage with the Massachusetts electorate. I also cannot help but imagine that the political sentiments expressed by the GOP’s Senate campaign hurts him with his voters more than anything the Dems can say. I think this is reflective of how desperately broken our political culture really is. We can’t even drop our spears long enough to try to talk kids into hanging in there and away from killing themselves.

Jim Burroway
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

Also this:

I wish that a broad range of Republicans – including the wingnuts – could agree that they don’t want children dying and participate in this message.

But that is a lose-lose proposition. The anti-gay activists would throw fits and give them grief. And our community would say, “yeah, well you voted this way on that bill and WE DONT WANT YOUR FRIGGIN VIDEO”.

It seems that this is the very core of the problem with the GOP right now. For all of their tough talk, at heart far to many of them are incredible cowards. Susan Collins is a huge exception, and so is Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, amazing heroes both.

But if the reason for not doing a video is because wingnuts think gay kids killing themselves is okey-dokey and gays are gonna throw raspberries over their less than ideal voting record, then they are all the bigger cowards. After all, some of those suicides, I believe, are from families of their very own constituents.

And as a P.S., I do hope the NY GOP Reps and Senators who voted for marriage equality receive a lot of our support in their primary challenges. It is imperative that they survive their primary challenges and not be punished for doing the right thing.

Ryan
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy, I don’t understand your argument. There’s nothing in the video that attacks Brown. You’re saying that it is now being used to attack him and that’s why he was smart to not be in it, but it’s only being used to attack him now because he chose not to be in it. That’s a logic disconnect.
And I don’t understand how “he can’t make a video because his base will be mad at him” is a good argument.

Jim Burroway
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

Matt

Your headline says “GOP Group Attacks It Gets Better Campaign,” but why only focus on that? After all, what apparently happened is that the Massachusetts Democratic congressional delegation got together to make a video, and then issued a press release to use that action against Brown. What a cynical move.

Go back and read what’s under the headline. What happened is that a Massachusetts LGBT youth services group wanted to put together a video and invited the entire state delegation, including Brown. Brown was the only one out of all of them who was “too busy.” And when his absence was conspicuous, the GOP attacked the campaign and the man who inspired it. I think it’s pretty straightforward.

Matt
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

Mr. Burroway,

I read your post — the headline and what’s beneath it. But I also read descriptions of the incident from other sources. For instance, Politico (Source: http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0711/A_gay_rights_wedge_against_Brown_in_Mass.html)
which noted that the Dems got together to do a press conference about the fact that Scott Brown didn’t participate the same day they released the video. It’s not like they posted the video, and other, nonpartisan folks thought, hey, where’s Scott Brown. The Dems held a press conference to point this out and score political points. A cynical move, but par for the course in politics. However, you are not a politician — you are free to not be a Democratic party hack! You are free to see these everything’s-about-scoring-political-points-moves as despicable, especially when the subject is ostensibly teen suicides. I wish you would.

darkmoonman
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

The GOP: working hard to make life worse for you.

Jim Burroway
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

Matt,

Go look again. The facts aren’t on your side. The video was posted last Friday on the 22nd. The “press conference” (actually a conference call with reporters) was almost a week later on July 28. And it was a call with LGBT leaders which included two Democratic state lawmakers. It is, in fact, almost very much like they posted a video and other folks thought, hey, where’s Scott Brown. Not quite, of course, but almost.

In fact, this is all about dropping the everything’s-about-scoring-political-points-moves and coming together to prevent teen suicides. This was a perfect invitation for a bipartisan video, but it was Brown’s decision to decline. I wish you could see the great opportunity he passed up for teens in the state he represents. But hey, you, too, are free to be a Republican party hack.

Matt
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

Mr. Burroway,

Of course it was a Democratic Party conference call. Don’t be naive. The “Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth” is quite happy to serve as a defacto limb of the Massachusetts Dems. Same with the Family Equality Council. Next you’ll be telling me that the HRC is a strictly nonpartisan group that never carries water for Democrats.

I wish you could see the great opportunity he passed up for teens in the state he represents.

When I raise money for the AIDS walks and bike rides I participate in, I ask people for anything they might be able to spare — a quarter, whatever. Some people don’t give anything — some people with lots of money. No doubt they are “passing up” a chance to make a difference in someone’s life. But I don’t issue a press release pointing a finger, shaking my head, and suggesting that the person’s inaction suggests he or she is comfortable with people suffering and dying due to a lack of afforable medications. Decent people do not pull these kinds of moves. I realize that we are talking about politicians here, and that politicians are trying to score points against other politicians, and it was ever thus. But you don’t have to carry water for them! You are free to not print political party press releases on your website.

Priya Lynn
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

Timothy said “The stories that covered this story presented every anti-gay vote Brown ever made and gave little importance to his support of the DADT repeal. Which kinda punishes him for giving us the support…”.

He wasn’t punished for his DADT support, he just wasn’t rewarded for it. He was punished for his other anti-gay votes.

Matt
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

The facts aren’t on your side. The video was posted last Friday on the 22nd. The “press conference” (actually a conference call with reporters) was almost a week later on July 28.

I’ve been looking for the source I *swear* I read that said the video was posted and the conference call was held later that afternoon. I cited the Politico article, and it doesn’t say this anywhere, and I have searched and turned up nothing, so I think it’s clear that I saw something that wasn’t there. You’re right about the time lapse of six days. I apologize for that.

I stand by my other comments, but I do want to apologize for getting that wrong. It wasn’t the same day, it was six days later.

Timothy Kincaid
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

Jim,

The ad was great. Truly. And the GOP response was vile and truly shameful.

But I very much doubt that Scott Brown reviewed the script and opted not to participate based on it. As much as some are wanting to imply it, I don’t think that there is anything in the video that Brown disagrees with.

And a number of Massachusetts representatives are honorable and would never deliberately sandbag Brown. I don’t think that was ever their intent and I doubt that they are part of the “see he didn’t join us” campaign.

However… there is at least one of them – one who likely had a great deal of input and control – who has in the past demonstrated partisanship that, frankly, disgusted me. So I don’t fault Brown for being leery about how his participation could be crafted, presented, controlled, and reported.

Of course, he could have opted to participate with a sign-off agreement. He could have become much more involved rather than walk away.

But I think that what he does now is what he should be judged on. If he says nothing at all or makes no measure of support (video or otherwise) then criticism is justified.

But I do not see this video as some litmus test.

Timothy Kincaid
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

Ryan,

As I see it, the video is being used as a political tool against Brown.

While none of them had any obligation to make the video, it is being presented as though this was their duty and Brown’s failure to participate indicates his views.

This suggests to me that less than entirely honorable motives are (and were) at play. And when someone with less than entirely honorable motives seeks your downfall, one should be careful not to let them control your public image.

He had other choices (do his own video, get his office closely involved, demand approval privilege), but I just don’t see this as greater than it is.

THe GOP spokeshole, on the other hand…

Mark F.
July 29th, 2011 | LINK

Dan Savage could be classy and apologize to Rick Santorum for his “joke.” I know, he doesn’t deserve it, but why not kill the opposition with kindness rather than juvenile pranks?

James PRobis
July 30th, 2011 | LINK

Mark F., you know who’s actually, literally being killed? Read a freaking newspaper for once. Gay people are murdered in our streets, and you have the gall to whine about jokes?

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