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Commentary

Agendas: Gay and otherwise

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I have to say that for once I admire something Republican State Rep. Gary Glenn of Midland has done. Glenn is a freshman in the legislature, but has been a militant Michigan conservative activist on social issues for a long time, especially opposed to same sex-marriage.

Two weeks ago, Glenn sent out nasty “agenda alerts” on social media alerting people to the fact that Tony Lascari, the newly promoted news editor at the Midland Daily News, is gay. Lascari is open about his sexuality; the story about his promotion quoted him as saying, "I live in Midland with my husband, Mark.” 

After Glenn attempted to make this an issue, the young editor wrote a very statesman-like column in which he said:

“As a professional news reporter, I have always worked to keep my articles balanced and accurate as I report on people in our community,” and he pledged to be fair to Glenn as well.

After that, there was an avalanche of scathing criticism of Glenn.

One poll found that nearly 93 percent of those responding felt that his sending a tweet about someone’s sexual orientation was just plain wrong. Glenn at first tried to justify what he did by saying it was a “reasonably observed possibility,” that in his new role, the news editor might use his position “to promote a political agenda or bias that’s at odds with our community values.”

I don’t know how Lascari could promote such an agenda, even if he wanted to. Write editorials urging the good people of Midland to become gay? I don’t see that happening.

Finally, even Glenn seems to have realized how absurd this all was. On Easter Sunday, the newspaper ran a public apology from the politician, who said he had “publicly and unfairly prejudged Tony Lascari’s ability to fairly, impartially, and professionally serve as news editor.”

Furthermore, he apologized for his thoughtless behavior.

You may think he did so out of political expediency, but it sounded sincere to me. Beyond this, however, I especially hope that Gary Glenn stopped to consider how absurd the idea is that a gay person necessarily has “a gay agenda,” they are constantly promoting, as if they were on some sort of secret political spy mission.

Tony Lascari seems to be a person who happens to be gay, as I am a person attracted to the dark-haired woman I share my life with.

My guess is that both of us have as our only agenda the desire to be left to live our private lives in peace.

Several Christmases ago an aging man contacted me to lament at the demise of gay culture in Michigan; he missed the bar scene, complete with glittering disco balls.

Baffled, I asked a member of my family who is gay what he thought.

He said, "Tell him the prehistoric days are gone. Young gays have many more options today. Older gays are busy with their careers, keeping up their homes, and taking care of their families.”

He suggested that I should find some polite way to tell my refugee from the 1970s to grow up and get a life. I don’t know what Gary Glenn would think, but that sounded downright healthy to me.

Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.

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