Sat, Aug 23, 2003 - Page 9 News List

The pink posse takes on America

Gay is the word in living rooms, churches and political chambers across the US this season

By Paul Harris  /  THE OBSERVER , NEW YORK

The decision will provoke a furious political battle that will go right to the top of American politics. President George W. Bush has already said he will consider legislation to prevent the institution of marriage being changed.

Conservatives are appalled and pull no punches. "It is not a mark of a civilized society. Marriage is between a man and a woman. What next? A marriage between three men and one woman? It is morally wrong," said Wildmon.

But gay campaigners are equally determined. They see the right to marriage as fundamental in winning equal status with straight people.

Gay couples hope to travel to Massachusetts from outside the state and get married. That will force a major showdown and lead to the launch of dozens of lawsuits to make other states recognize the Massachusetts unions, prising open the door to getting gay marriage legalized across the whole country.

This kind of fight can get ugly. When Vermont passed legislation in 2000 giving legal status to "same-sex unions" -- the only state in America to do so -- the backlash was so fierce that then Governor Howard Dean was forced to wear a bulletproof vest. And that was in the most liberal state in the country. The reaction in the South and Midwest is likely to be far more entrenched.

But conservatives may be fighting a losing battle. As the Massachusetts decision looms, the gay invasion of mainstream entertainment continues, bringing gay characters into the living rooms of every television-owning household in America. Will & Grace, the long-running gay man/straight woman comedy, is rivalling Friends in popularity, with stars including Madonna, Cher and Michael Douglas jostling for guest spots. In the wake of Queer Eye's success, a gay dating show called Boy Meets Boy is now on the air and NBC's rival ABC is planning to launch a sitcom called It's All Relative, based around a clash between two sets of prospective in-laws, one of which is a gay couple.

In television, the battle to win acceptance into the mainstream is one area where the struggle is almost won. The Fab Five have carried the day. Seomin points out: "The best thing about Queer Eye is that it isn't a hit show with gays. It is a hit show with everyone. People are talking about it in their homes, in their cars, at the hairdressers and in the bars. Everywhere."

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