Anderson Cooper and the Wheel of Fortune

In its upcoming legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly may or may not pass the pending, mean-spirited measure to constitutionalize our existing ban on same-sex marriage. I hope they don’t, but at the end of the day, it’s irrelevant. This battle is over.

Over the past couple of days, we’ve seen a variety of news items relevant to the status of GLBT people. France and Ireland moved closer to the recognition of same-sex marriage. Anderson Cooper came out (much to the surprise of absolutely no one). In his decorous and moving statement, he acknowledged the importance and significance of that action, saying

” I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible.”

The reason I say this battle is over, however, isn’t because yet another celebrity has decided that it is safe to be honest, and it isn’t because increasing numbers of Western nations have decided that GLBT citizens are deserving of equal treatment by their governments. It is because Anderson Cooper’s observation about visibility is exactly right, and because that visibility–with its welcome, everyday, humdrum, taken-for-granted nature–is increasingly part and parcel of American culture and experience.

My husband and I watch “Wheel of Fortune” most nights after dinner. (Hey, we’re old!) Last night, when Pat Sajak asked a contestant if he was married, the young man said “Yes, to my wonderful husband Garrett, for seven years.” No one raised an eyebrow. You don’t get more middle-American than Wheel of Fortune.

I’ve previously noted the presence of numerous gay and lesbian couples on HGTV–couples whose family rooms are redecorated, or kitchens remodeled, all without comment or any other indication that these same-sex couples are any different from the folks whose godawful bathroom was “crashed” the preceding week.

If you need further evidence that overt homophobia doesn’t sell even in Indiana, take a look at Mike Pence’s campaign commercials. Talk about redecorating and rehabbing! As Pence tries to recreate himself into someone likable, someone we might actually elect, he is doing everything he can to suppress his inner culture warrior. This hasn’t extended to taking any actual policy positions, mind you, but he certainly has abandoned the anti-gay rhetoric (along with reminders of his war on Planned Parenthood, immigrants and people who don’t share his brand of “Christian” beliefs) in favor of content-free paeans to “Hoosier values.”  This does not indicate a change of heart; it is a strategic decision. If Pence thought homophobia would help him get elected, he wouldn’t be soft-pedaling his own.

So I repeat: this battle is effectively over. There’s considerable mopping-up left to do, of course. Just as the civil rights movement didn’t eradicate racism, there’s plenty of anti-gay animus to confront: bullying of schoolchildren, legal discrimination and inequity, gay-bashing…I don’t mean to minimize the task ahead. But the cultural shift has occurred.

The law will follow.


  1. I take offense of Pence’s commercials in that he uses the word “faith” which is a buzz word for a generic form on Christianity. He says that his faith rebuilt his community and that the community’s faith rebuilt it. He does not address any real issues in it, but panders to those folks that will just think he’s such a nice man, he should be governor. He is so vanilla in what he believes, at least stated by this commercial, that he should just be on a corner with a bucket of coins, shaking it up and down and asking “loose vote, loose vote?” He will continue his attack on all of those things you mention in your editorial, extend it to his attacks on public schools and anything that shows Indiana as a progressive state. How can we even hope that our “backward” image will be removed? I guess we’ll just have to have the faith to do so.

  2. There is no reason for him to be specific about anything that might be construed (later) as a commitment to any particular policy.
    Party affiliation is his strong point here as too many voters simply pull a lever based upon whatever political party they identify with.
    As plenty of Indiana voters identify with the Republican party, he need only spend his millions trying to make himself palatable to as many “independents” as possible in the attempt to draw votes away from his opponent, hence he refrains from trumpeting his agenda, philosophy and religion.

  3. This country, especially our elected officials, seem to be preoccupied with sex – other people’s sex lives. Sex is not a legal or political issue but apparently who others are having sex with has become the business of all of us, whether we want to know or not, and we must pass laws to protect our future generations. On my morning walk I found 5 or 6 handmade cardboard signs about a young man down the street that had been attached to the light pole, then torn down and thrown in someone’s yard. They stated that Blank is not a man, Blank is a woman, if you are looking for a woman see Blank, etc. I folded them up, put them into my walker basket then in my trash can. This is where these messages, along with rules and laws denying gays their civil rights, should all be put. Pence, and Romney, have no position to state unless someone else tells them. As for “Hoosier values”, they include bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-gay, and anti-progressive thinking and action. This is and has always been a good-old-boy state with few rare exceptions. Pence is NOT one of them but, this being Indiana, will probably be out next governor at which time his true values will come pouring out and force on us. He doesn’t have the balls to tell HIS truths during this campaign.

Comments are closed.