Saturday, September 01, 2012

Another Stereotype Hits the Canvas


Mickey Ward's morals-based reversal of an endorsement of Sen. Scott Brown for reelection heartens me. The original is here, in The Fighter's hometown newspaper, the Lowell Sun, in Christopher Scott's sports column. Lefty and gay pubs and blogs have spread the news.

The short of it that the pro boxer from plain stock said, sure he'd endorse Brown. Then he learned that the pol was both anti-union and opposed to same-sex marriage. No good for Mickey. As the pug said of the pol, "I found out Scott is anti-union, and I'm a Teamster guy. I found out he's also against gay marriage,  and I say if you love someone, you should have the same rights no matter who you are."

A stereotype has often been that blue-collar men are anti-marriage equality. Here's a good Catholic lad from a poor industrial town who doesn't play by those precepts.

It took me back to my own lad-hood. Way back when George McGovern, pinko peacenik, was the Dem nominee for President. Back in the thrilling yesteryear of 1972, I canvassed for him in my Lower East Side Manhattan neighborhood.

I got a rough reception. Most of the residents were old women, Ukrainians and Russians. I tried a bit of my Russian on them, but schmoozing didn't work any more than the literature or political arguments. I dreaded the election day as evidence of my failure to sway these crusty conservatives.

Yes and no. Sure enough, nationally, Richard Nixon thumped McGovern by 24%. The WWI and WWII generations were not ready for peace talk, much less a peace-talking President. However, my precinct had the highest reported pro-McGovern percentage in New York City and New York State.

There was a lesson for me, which I took and carry. Those elderly women who had survived czars and wars and the worst humans and nature have to throw at us did not fit my stereotype. I read their stoic non-response as rejection that fit my preconceptions. In reality, they were largely lefties and for peace. They showed me in the voting booth.

LGBT and marriage-equality forces have allies in places that surprise many of us. That seems to account for the successes in places like Maine where gay couples and individuals spoke to voters as well as legislators. They might have gone into the process with stereotypes of a hostile audience but were often literally and figuratively embraced. The legislators who testified in public hearings of being turned by such conversations or of their own gay children, other relatives, neighbors, coworkers and friends were powerful advocates for equal rights.

My late mother died still not quite understanding gay marriage. Yet, she loved and respected two couples of my gay friends, who always visited and dined with her when they came to Santa Fe where she lived. I subsequently solemnized the marriages of the four men in those two couples. She would have continued to welcome them in her and heart without "getting" the marriages.

That woman, my mother, taught me a lesson that dovetails with the thought of not clinging to stereotypes. She'd say when I doubted seeking something I wanted, "Ask. The worst you can hear is, 'No.'"

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