Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Pennsylvania Knows and how we DON'T need to tell the rest of America

Sandy Hingston writes the following in The Philly Post under the headline, "America? Pennsylvania Here. We Know Rick Santorum. You Don’t. Just ask us about him. Please."  Ms. Hingston's heart is in the right place and surely the quotes are accurate, but her messaging and framing skills are not what the LGBT community needs. 

Hey America! Here’s what we know that you might have missed:
Santorum hates the gays: “In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. … It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing.”

He hates the blacks, too: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families.”

He gets the two confused sometimes: “There are people who were gay and lived the gay lifestyle and aren’t anymore. I don’t know if that’s the similar situation or that’s the case for anyone that’s black.”
And again: “You are black by the color of your skin. You are not homosexual, necessarily, by the color of your skin.”

(read the rest)
I only wish this would not strengthen Santorum's support in any portion of the American electorate, but it will. And there is a portion of the electorate that will think it doesn't matter. We need to explain why it does matter to that second group. I don't think this article is very effective in doing that. It starts off with who he "hates." LGBT people already know how he feels and that he is simply repeating the official line of the Roman Catholic Church on that. It's also the official position of the LDS church and many evangelicals. (At least the Catholic leadership is not hypocritical when it comes to the death penalty.)

Our community and our supporters very often shut doors instead of opening them.  Calling people haters and accusing them of malicious intent may tell people how it feels to us in the LGBT community, but it puts us on the offensive.  It is substantially more effective to to tell our stories in a way that show why it is consistent with American values and the core beliefs of all Christians and all people of faith to treat us equally, rather than accusing them of evil intent.

For those of you who want to learn more about how to go about this I would commend to you the "Talking About..." series from the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) as well as the Believe Out Loud curriculum from IntegrityUSA.

Previously I reported about this from NEA Standing Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.  This is the example of a well framed message I used from Sean Lund at MAP:
This is about everyday Americans who want the same chance as anyone else to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love.
Some of us may wish to replace American with Episcopalian.

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