By Diane Silver
Prairie Home Companion host Garrison Keillor has issued an apology for his ill-thought-out piece slamming gay parents. He says it was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek humor, but didn't work so well. Keillor writes that he really does respect gays and thinks we can be good parents. You can read his apology here.
I accept his apology and his explanation, but I still wonder how he could be so off. Did he really not know that the religious right is working darn near every day to take our children away from us?
The right claims that we aren't fit to be parents, so a "joke" claiming the same thing isn't terribly funny, not if you're a mother or father terrified of losing custody of your child.
Was Keillor so uninformed that he didn't know about the political, verbal and sometimes physical attacks we endure? I'm sure he didn't miss the fact that states are passing bans on our right to marry.
Dan Savage has a good, detailed rundown of what is wrong with Keillor's apology. I won't spend time repeating what Savage wrote.
I believe Keillor is a good man who meant no harm. What strikes me, though, is that Keillor is like so many other straight people I know. They're our friends, our coworkers and our neighbors. Sometimes they're our brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins. They don't have a homophobic bone in their bodies, and yet, they just don't get it. They seem to be blind to what we face.
Because of their inability to see, they often vote against us. And that has tragic consequences.
By the way, I'm not saying that Keillor does that. I'm also not saying that every straight person is blind to our pain. I know for a fact that isn't true. Many heterosexuals work hard for the Kansas Equality Coalition, for example. Others are personal friends who know exactly the dangers and problems we face. However, far too many have allowed themselves to be lulled into thinking that everything is really OK; after all, they think, it's just a couple of crazies like Fred Phelps who cause us problems.
I remember when we fought the ban on same-sex marriage here in Kansas. I remember straight friends saying that of course they support us, but what's the harm in the ban? Straight folks I love and care about have told me that they don't see why I need a law to protect myself from discrimination. They ask: Don't we all have the same rights?
Well, actually, we don't. If you're a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered person in this nation, you have few legal rights. Here's a "fun" one people tend to forget: We don't even have the right to visit our spouses in the hospital. We can be kept away from an injured or dying loved one by a bigoted nurse, a doctor or another family member.
I am not going to attack Keillor for not being smarter than the folks I know here in Kansas, but I am going to ask him and all the rest to wake up.
We are your neighbors, and we are being bullied to death. It's time for you to see what's happening, and it's time for you to stand with us.
Once again, I accept Keillor's apology. I am sad, though, that it was even needed.