So here’s the long and short of it.
Last summer, the charming college town of Fayetteville, Ark., tucked away in the foothills of the Ozarks and home to the state’s flagship university, passed a citywide civil rights ordinance meant to protect gay, lesbian, and transgendered citizens from discrimination in employment and housing. Find the ordinance here. No big deal, right? Scores of cities have similar measures, from the obvious large metropolises of Los Angeles and San Francisco to the tiny mining town of Vicco, Ky., population 334.
The ordinance passed the city council just after 3 a.m. a.m. on Aug. 20 after almost nine hours of public debate. And immediately after passage, those opposed to the amendment mounted a petition drive to bring the civil rights ordinance up for a public vote (always fun — people voting on the rights of others). They successfully gathered almost 4,000 signature and a public vote is scheduled for Dec. 9th. What a way to bring a town together during the holidays, right?
And who is the public face of this repeal effort? The master of family planning, mother of what I am wagering will be at least two gay kids, reality TV show star and Mike Huckabee drag persona Michelle Duggar of TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.”
Even before the petition drive was successful, Duggar (not, by the way, a resident of Fayetteville, but of nearby and decidedly more conservative Springdale) was making the rounds against the civil rights ordinance via robocall. In that recorded message, Duggar was quick to wave the old, hateful flag of “gays-are-here-and-a-threat-to-your-children.” The ordinance, according to Duggar, would allow for men to use women’s restrooms, showers, locker rooms and other private areas now reserved for girls.
Here are just some of her words:
“Hello, this is Michelle Duggar. I’m calling to inform you of some shocking news that would affect the safety of Northwest Arkansas women and children. The Fayetteville City Council is voting on an ordinance this Tuesday night that would allow men — yes, I said men — to use women’s and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only. I don’t believe the citizens of Fayetteville would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls …”
Listen to the robocall here, if you can stomach it.
And Michelle isn’t the only Duggar clansman out against the gays. Her eldest son Josh, employee at the ultraconservative and anti-gay Family Research Council, recently headlined a rally in Little Rock against gay marriage.
Charming little brood, huh?
So why is this family so hung up on gays? Who knows really. You’d think with all those kids they’d have other things on their mind, like the rising cost of college or why it would make sense for them all to sign up for Obamacare … but the Duggars do have a brand to protect. Some, though, are pushing back against the Duggars’ hateful and outspoken agenda. A petition sprang up on Change.org calling for TLC and the Discovery Channel to axe “19 Kids and Counting.” As of posting, the petition has garnered more than 158,000 signatures.
And of course, the Duggars and the Family Research Council are crying foul via their religious freedoms being trampled by those intolerant of their views. Yeah, yeah. The Council is saying that boycotting television shows you happen to disagree with is wrong, though it has publicly come out against dozens of shows, including the obvious culprits like “Ellen” and “Glee” to the apparently dangerous show, “Nightline.” The Council has also asked the members of its flock to take to Twitter with the hashtag #DefendtheDuggars, to show their support. That has failed miserably, with gay rights supporters responding in hilarious ways.
In full disclosure, I’m gay, I’m from Arkansas, and I even called Fayetteville my home for three years. I didn’t hesitate to sign the petition, and neither should you. Don’t fall for this free-speech argument. Free speech does not mean consequence-free speech. Of course, in America, the Duggars and their allies have every right to spew their misguided views. Just as I have every right to call on television stations not to give them and their views a national platform.
And be weary of any fundamentalist trying to turn this “tolerance” thing on it’s head. “Listen, you ask me to tolerate you, but you won’t tolerate me … that’s not right.” Tolerance tolerance tolerance. Blah, blah, blah. Frankly, I reject the idea of tolerance. I reject the idea that I, like some minor toothache, have to be tolerated. And frankly, when it comes to the hateful, disingenuous, divisive views of Michelle Duggar, no, I won’t tolerate it.
Find the petition here.
Brock Thompson is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.