The local media is buzzin’ about Wisconsin’s Same-Sex Domestic Partner Registry – a new law that gives same-sex couples some of the same protections as heterosexual married couples. Yesterday, a reporter from the Beloit Daily News spoke to me and my partner Andrea about the registry.
The story will run in the August 3rd issue and we’ll update this post with a link once we find it. (Read the story here). Today, the television station WIFR spoke to one of my friends and his partner about the issue. Their interview ran on tonight’s 10 pm segment. I was almost pleased with the coverage . . . almost.
After my friend’s interview ran on WIFR tonight, the weekend anchor, Tina Stein, immediately worked in a story about HIV/AIDS, leading with a comment that went something like . . . “One thing that greatly affects the gay community is the HIV virus . . . ”
Andrea and I were watching the news and we went from being really excited to see some positive local coverage of the gay marriage issue to WTF?! in about 3.5 seconds. I was so angry, I wrote the News Director Dave Smith and carbon copied Tina Stein. Here’s the email I sent them:
Hi Mr. Smith:
I was very pleased to see WIFR and most of the local news covering the Wisconsin Same-Sex Domestic Partnership Registry issue on tonight’s news, especially since I see our local area (media included) as very conservative and anti-gay. I was very disturbed, however, to hear an HIV/AIDS story wrapped into the story about gay marriage rights.
Your weekend anchor, Tina Stein, made it appear as if the stories were related when she blatantly made a distinct connection between the two issues. Yes, homosexuals are indeed affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic; however, heterosexuals are affected as well. The attempt to connect gay marriage to HIV/AIDS was unnecessary and borderline homophobic.
It would be appreciated if, in the future, your news writers pay closer attention to how they present and connect news stories.
The HIV/AIDS story could have been presented without making any connection to the gay community. Her exact words are printed below with the gay comment scratched through:
One thing that greatly affects the gay community is the HIV virus.And researchers in France have just discovered a new strain of it. They say they found it in a 62-year-old woman from the African nation of Cameroon. They believe her strain is closely related to a form of Simian Virus recently discovered in wild gorillas. The virus typically is related to the strain found in chimpanzees. Researchers say this just shows how important it is to continue tracking the disease.
If you read the HIV/AIDS story as it was originally published through the AP wire, you’ll see the story never once links the gay community and the AIDS virus.
I find it hard to believe that this move wasn’t purposeful. HIV/AIDS is not just a gay issue; it’s an everyone issue. Conveniently connecting the gay marriage issue to the HIV/AIDS issue was a pathetic move . No matter how subtle WIFR thought they were, their intent was as obvious as a bull in a china shop.
Update: August 3, 2009
I just received an apology email from Tina Stein:
Thank you for taking the time to email. I apologize if I had offended you. That of course was not my intentions. This is something I will definitely be more conscious of in the future.
I really hope her apology was sincere. Hopefully this kind of thing won’t happen in the future.