We have received praise and thanks from many people in response to the joint letter
we sent on Dec. 18 opposing censorship of anti-gay ads on Metro, and Colby King's column
in Saturday's Washington Post
praising our defense of the First Amendment.
Everyone, however, is not happy with us. Here is an excerpt from a message I got this morning from blogger Jerome Stueart:
I think you should reconsider your stand behind the First Amendment for the StandforMarriage ads, for the reasons cited in my blog post, summarized in this letter after the link.
Paid-discrimination on city-owned, tax-payer funded, rider-supported metrobuses targeting a minority of the riders shouldn't be tolerated any more than racial slurs are covered by the First Amendment. While everyone is entitled to believe what they want, city-owned buses are responsible for the discriminatory messages they send to their riders.
Towleroad reports on the dust-up here. Check out the comments.
The controversy over the Metrobus ads presents a teachable moment on free speech. I wrote this piece three years ago on the unpopularity of the First Amendment. And check out the related FAQ that has been on GLAA's website for many years: http://www.glaa.org/faq.shtml#censor. As I said in response to a commenter on Towleroad:
WMATA is following the First Amendment. This is a well-settled area of law. As the joint letter signed by GLAA, ACLU and others points out, GAA (our acronym at the time) won a lawsuit against WMATA in 1979 forcing them to accept our "Someone In Your Life Is Gay" ads on Metrobuses, based on WMATA's First Amendment obligation as a quasi-governmental body not to favor or disfavor particular messages. They could have stopped allowing ads altogether, but they depended on the revenue.
In any case, will you please pause to notice that the pro-gay side is winning here? GLAA has led the strategizing, the advocacy, the legal research and the policy development in pursuit of marriage equality for many years, and we are winning. Can't we be given some credit for knowing what we are doing? BTW, we ourselves argue that the majority should not be able to vote on the rights of minorities--indeed, we do not just talk about it, we put it into the law 30 years ago, which is why the proposed anti-gay initiative was ruled inadmissible by the Board of Elections and Ethics. That, however, does not for a moment mean that our opponents don't have a right to run their misleading ads objecting to it. We are winning, folks. I think we can drop the helpless victim routine already.
Update: The Advocate covers the story here. Check out the comments.
Update 2: Change.org covers the story here. I have posted a comment.
Update 3: Metro Weekly covers the story here. On Top Magazine cover it here. DC Agenda has a commentary by Lane Hudson here (and check out the comments).