What Happens When News Corp. Makes A Gay Marriage Magazine?
November 30, 2011 10:38 am ET by Carlos Maza
In September, we told you that Fox News’ parent company News Corp. was preparing to launch a new magazine aimed at catering to gay and lesbian newlywed couples in New York. The magazine, Wedding Pride, aimed to have a starting distribution of 35,000 and launched its premier issue on September 29.
Given News Corp.’s abysmal coverage of LGBT issues through their subsidiary Fox News, it was hard to imagine how the company would handle producing a pro-gay magazine. Thankfully, the magazine’s first issue is now available online for all to see.
And from the looks of it, Wedding Pride is exactly what you’d expect from a “gay-friendly” News Corp. product.
“Redefining A Process That Has Been Set In Stone”
Even when it’s trying its best to sound pro-gay, Wedding Pride comes off sounding a lot like its anti-gay parent company.
Take, for example, an article titled “Planning Your Big Gay Wedding.” The article is intended to describe the process of getting married through the eyes of three gay couples, but it begins by regurgitating a common anti-gay talking point:
Now that same-sex marriage is legal, you’re anxious to say, “I do” — but planning your wedding means redefining a process that has been set in stone for thousands of years. There are unique aspects of planning a gay wedding that stem from the fact that being gay is, simply, different. We spoke with three already married gay couples who gave us their tips on how to take the plunge. [emphasis added]
Wedding Pride’s choice of words is eerily similar to that of other anti-gay groups like the Family Research Council. That’s because referring to marriage equality as a “redefinition” is a tactic frequently used by anti-gay groups and activists to gin up fears about the consequences of allowing gay couples to marry. In fact, it’s specifically recommended by the National Organization for Marriage, one of most powerful anti-gay groups in the country:
Extensive and repeated polling agrees that the single most effective message is:
"Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose,
they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us."
This allows people to express support for tolerance while opposing gay marriage. Some modify it to “People have a right to live as they choose, they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”
Language to avoid at all costs: "Ban same-sex marriage." Our base loves this wording. So do supporters of SSM. They know it causes us to lose about ten percentage points in polls. Don’t use it. Say we’re against “redefining marriage” or in favor or “marriage as the union of husband and wife” NEVER “banning same-sex marriage.” [emphasis original]
By using the preferred language of anti-gay groups, Wedding Pride gets uncomfortably close to promoting the myth that allowing gays and lesbians to marry would somehow affect the marriages of heterosexual couples by disrupting a tradition that has been “set in stone for thousands of years.”
Trading off talking points with hate mongers is to be expected at some of News Corp.’s other properties, but it’s bizarre that a publication tailored to the gay community lets the same thing fly.
“Listen Here, Homosexuals”
To end its premier issue, Wedding Pride published a column entitled “Wedding night advice from a heterosexual.” The column, by Wedding Pride co-editor Gersh Kuntzman, gives “homosexuals” advice on how to consummate their marriages:
Listen here, homosexuals — we know you’ve been having plenty of great sex for years, and you don’t need this hetero (no matter how “gifted” I am) to give you pointers. But wedding night is a whole different ball game. And you need to be ready to hit a grand slam.
The use of the word “homosexuals” should irk most gay readers. The word carries some serious ant-gay baggage, as explained in the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) media reference guide:
Because of the clinical history of the word "homosexual," it is aggressively used by anti-gay extremists to suggest that gay people are somehow diseased or psychologically/emotionally disordered. ...Please avoid using "homosexual" except in direct quotes.
Identifying a same-sex couple as "a homosexual couple," characterizing their relationship as "a homosexual relationship," or identifying their intimacy as "homosexual sex" is extremely offensive and should be avoided. These constructions are frequently used by anti-gay extremists to denigrate gay people, couples and relationships.
It’s possible that Kuntzman was using the term “homosexuals” to be facetious, but the magazine uses the word in four other instances in two other articles:
- "... that called for the castration of homosexual men and mutilation of gay women." [“The Long March,” Page 26]
- "... the Defense of Marriage Act, forbidding homosexual couples from receiving..." [“The Long March,” Page 26]
- "Indiana, which forbids homosexual marriage, was forced to rethink..." [“The Long March,” Page 28]
- "...reputation as a playground for the jetset homosexual crowd." [“Have Love, Will Travel,” Page 67]
At the very least, the repeated use of the term “homosexual” instead of just “gay” should raise some questions about Wedding Pride’s editorial staff.
“The Long March”
Claiming marriage equality “redefines” marriage and calling gay people “homosexuals” are uncomfortable and unfortunate, but these editorial gaffes aren’t the real problem with Wedding Pride. In fairness, the magazine does appear to be a genuine – although flawed – effort to cater to and support gay men and lesbians hoping to get married in New York (and to soak up advertising dollars from ballrooms, reception halls, caterers, jewelers, florists, dressmakers, etc).
The real problem is the internal inconsistency when it comes to News Corp.’s relationship with the LGBT community. With Wedding Pride, the company can make a profit by appearing as an ally to LGBT people – interested in their stories, their futures, and their rights. At the same time, the company uses Fox News to demonize and belittle every effort by the community to become more fully equal.
The best example of this in Wedding Pride is the article titled “The Long March,” a glowing look back at some “key moments” in the LGBT community’s struggle for full equality.
“The road to equality for the lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender community,” the article notes, “has been rocky to say the least.” That rockiness, of course, is largely due to the committed opposition of anti-gay conservatives, who have fought tooth and nail to slow the country’s move towards full LGBT equality.
The irony is that those very same anti-gay conservatives have, for years, been able to rely on Fox News to deliver their anti-equality talking points to a national audience. In other words, Wedding Pride laments the anti-gay forces that its parent company has spent over a decade working to support and nurture.
To demonstrate, here are a few examples of Wedding Pride’s “key moments,” along with how Fox personalities chose to depict them:
1973: The American Psychiatric Association declassifies homosexuality as a mental disorder.
Fox News' Keith Ablow:
[P]sychiatry has a history of caving into cultural pressure to stop defining controversial illnesses as pathological. You won’t even find ego-dystonic homosexuality—meaning, homosexual impulses that cause an individual to feel distressed and which that individual does not want to give into—in the DSM, anymore. [FoxNews.com, 8/25/11]
1998: Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay University of Wyoming student becomes a poster boy for the cause after he is attacked, tied to a fence, tortured and left in a coma to die, inspiring a law, 11 years later, which makes it a federal crime to assault someone based on sexual or gender discrimination.
Fox News’ Molly Henneberg:
“The critics – they call it the ‘minister gag bill,’ fearing it could be used to silence pastors who preach that homosexuality is a sin.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 4/29/09]
2001: The Netherlands becomes the first country in the world to allow same-sex marriage.
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly:
“One of the arguments against gay marriage, that we just spoke about, is that if it becomes law, all other alternative marital visions will be allowed. We've already seen a Dutchman marry two ladies in the Netherlands. Looks like a happy guy. And now comes word that a British woman has married a dolphin in Israel.” [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 1/4/06]
2004: Massachusetts becomes the first state to legalize gay weddings, and Marcia Hams and Susan Shepherd become the first same-sex couple in America to tie the knot.
Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly:
“So this is just the beginning, ladies and gentlemen, of this crazy gay marriage insanity – is gonna lead to all kinds of things like this. Courts are gonna be clogged. Every nut in the world is gonna – somebody's gonna come in and say, ‘I wanna marry the goat.’ You'll see it; I guarantee you'll see it.” [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 4/13/05]
2010: President Obama repeals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Fox News’ Bret Baier:
“Army Chief of Staff General George Casey says he has serious concerns about the effort to roll back the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Casey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a change might disrupt the troops and adversely affect readiness. President Obama wants to change the policy, but that will take congressional action.” [Fox News, Special Report, 2/23/10]
While acknowledging that much work remains to be done in the fight to secure LGBT equality, “The Long March” ends on a hopeful note:
Now that New York has become the largest state to allow gay nuptials, we believe that a whole new national — even world — order can’t be too far behind.
A pleasant thought, but the road to full LGBT equality would be a lot smoother if News Corp. stopped supporting a “news” network that has made defending anti-LGBT discrimination and bigotry one of its biggest priorities.
The next issue of Wedding Pride is scheduled to be released in April 2012. Absent a major change in the views of its ownership, the magazine should be treated as seriously as News Corp. treats the interests of LGBT people off whom it hopes to continue profiting.