by Max Brantley
Belatedly, I'd like to catch up on a couple of depressing articles I read yesterday in the New York Times.
* IT'S NOT ABOUT RACE: You know how Republicans say the opposition to President Obama, particularly in the South, isn't about race? To believe this, you must first ignore the racial imagery in advertising and political thrusts — from health care reform to the dishonest crusade against lifeline phone service for poor people that has become Tiny Tim Griffin's leading battle cry since his pipeline cheerleading ran into the Mayflower sludge pond.
Well, consider this little story about the blowback against General Mills for using a mixed-race family in Cheerios ad. Bring on the Internet hate.
The casting has attracted angry comments, many of them overtly racist. The volume of negative remarks on YouTube reached the point that General Mills has temporarily disabled the commenting function.
* GAY DISCRIMINATION? WHAT GAY DISCRIMINATION?: Then there's the non-discrimination against gay people. You know. The Gravel Ridge Baptist preacher that loves gay people but doesn't want to let Boy Scouts into his church because they might bring cooties from some little gay 12-year-olds. Or the many politicians who say THEY would never discriminate against gay people, they just don't want them to be allowed to marry or adopt children. (Or in the case of Arkansas's hateful Family Council, hold appointed positions on state regulatory boards.)
If all this love is so, how come employment discrimination against gay people is legally permissible in most states in the United States, including Arknasas?
With all of the momentum behind same-sex marriage, the fact that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people lack a crucial yet basic protection often goes unnoticed: there is still no federal law that explicitly protects workers from job discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Where we are headed with marriage is fantastic, but at the same time, in over half of states you can be legally fired for being gay or transgender and no one is talking about that,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project, a research group that co-wrote a recent report about the job discrimination and the various financial inequities that gay people face in the workplace.
That means even if the Supreme Court were to declare that the law that denies same-sex married couples federal benefits was unconstitutional — it is expected to weigh in on the issue this month — such a decision could have a perverse effect: workers who may be permitted to add a same-sex spouse to a pension or a health plan, for instance, would be forced to expose their sexuality in a potentially hostile workplace to receive those benefits.
When many people say it isn't about race, it is about race.
Many people DO want to discriminate against gay people. And do.