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Fox News' Todd Starnes condemns Grammys' 'intolerant' gay inclusion

Eveyone's talking about it today.  Some are noting the spectacle, others are noting the love, and others still are discussing the sustained iconography of Madonna.  Whatever the take, it's on everyone's lips.

Here's the clip for those who missed it:

Even if you'd seen multiple performances of this song at multiple other awards shows, this one was still powerful. This is a high profile, middle America, primetime network broadcast.  This on-stage celebration was a huge reminder of how far we've come, even if we still have quite a ways to go.

But of course with all things inclusive of LGBT people, there has to be that choir of voices lashing out.  And as per usual, many of those who are lashing out are going beyond simply objecting to the performance or reasonably stating their concerns and are instead turning the performance into some sort of hostile act against others.

One of the leaders in this game is Todd Starnes, the Fox News correspondent who has pretty much determined that his role at the cable news network is to mainstream anti-LGBT animus.  Within seconds of the Macklemore performance/ Queen Latif-iated weddings, Starnes took to Twitter to claim "victim" status for Christians everywhere.  Media Matters' Luke Briner rounded up some of what Starnes said:

REPORT: Right-Wing Media Freak Out Over Same-Sex Marriages At The Grammys [Media Matters]

It's no wonder Starnes sent out so many tweets on the subject (and this is just some of them, not to mention his Facebook engagement), since he is basically crafting a fake situation out of whole cloth.  While any televised wedding has a bit of a stunt element attached to it, that does not mean mockery.  The weddings, which included straight and gay couples from all walks of life, were a visible celebration of love.  And in fact, considering that they featured the couples and their commitment rather than the over-the-top modern trappings featured at so many weddings of our day, one could argue that the focus here was more reverent than at an extravagant private affair where the expensive gown, floral arrangements, and open bar receive more attention than the vows.  

Then there are the "mocking God"  and "bashing the church" claims.  It's understandable that someone who shares Todd Starnes' view on marriage and its limitations would be defensive about the Macklemore performance, as he essentially calls out the Christians who cherry-pick scripture and use the bible as a bully club against gays.  Without apology or restraint, the performers on that Grammy stage were fighting against this kind of hijacking of religious messaging.  For far too long, people who hold Mr. Starnes' limited purview were allowed to hold the court, presenting themselves as the self-appointed spokespeople for God on issues of morality and (un)equal rights.  But that is changing, with men and women nationwisde standing up and making themselves heard.  Many of them are doing this precisely because of their faith, while others are guided more by the need to separate varying faith opinions from civil rights like marriage.  Whatever the motivator, the conversation is moving toward greater freedom and more inclusion—and that drives Todd Starnes crazy.  

So he angrily Tweets the Grammys.  He calls the whole thing "sick" because he apparently read a really terrible etiquette book on the proper wedding gift to send just-wedded couples.  He determines that this respect for the sizable audience of LGBT people and allies constitutes "cramming a social agenda down our throats" because he is apparently frustrated at his political movement's increasing inability to cram their pro-discrimination agenda into law.  Then, after declaring that Madonna looked like "Boss Hogg," Todd Starnes closed out with this tweet...

...because he's apparently never seen actual intolerance.  Or bigotry.  Or hatred.  If he had, he would never try to compare love, rap, and Latifah into the kind of ill treatment that so many of us LGBT people know all too well.

This whole expression of loss and frustraion wouldn't be so bad, really, if Todd Starners were just like, "ugh, this sucks" and bemoaning what he sees as our "fallen" nation.  It's this attempt to name a false reality that really drives me crazy.  It's not enough for Todd Starnes to condemn us, our weddings, or our inclusion; instead, he has to cast us as mockers, marginalizers, haters, bigots, and just plain sick.  Because it can't just be that he fought a losing battle and is out of touch.  No, no—people who support us have to be turned into downright demons.

Don't be fooled: Mr. Starnes and his allies are playing this public game not just to blow off steam, but because they really still do have hope that they can "win" this thing.  This "victim" meme that the anti-LGBT movement is working is a last ditch effort to turn the tide against us.  The idea is that equality movement will get so big and so dominant in the culture that it will start to look as much like a tyrannical majority as the anti-LGBT side looked all those times that it put our rights up before public referendum.      

It won't work, for obvious reasons (e.g. we're on the side of love; they are trying to strip rights away; LGBT people remain a persecuted minority while Christianity is a predominant religion—one that includes millions of LGBT and allied Christians; etc.).  But that they are now trying to flip this script in this way should tell you all you need to know about this win-at-all-costs movement and their refusal to give up.  We must stay vigilant.

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