It’s a new century, already

In preparing this week’s cover story—a history of gays in Nevada—and accompanying pieces, some thoughts came to mind.

One of them is that we are becoming awfully tired of those in our society who are still living in the past and visiting violence and hate on good people. In the past week:

• In Seattle, a business owner was threatened in a note containing gay slurs left on his windshield.

• In Idaho, a Nampa man pleaded guilty to kicking a man to death with steel-toed boots.

• In Tennessee, a Johnson City woman with rainbow flags on her home found a dead cow dumped on her property and nails scattered around her car.

• In Florida, the body of a Tampa man was found in an alley after “upper body trauma” was inflicted on him.

Meanwhile, legislatures around the nation that had previously enacted hate crimes laws to deal with racially or religiously motivated crimes have balked when it comes to doing the same for gays. Wyoming, South Carolina, Indiana, Arkansas and Georgia are the latest to balk.

The truth is, there are good reasons not to approve hate crime laws, and many civil libertarians have spoken out against laws that—for whatever good reasons—punish opinion. But that’s not what’s operating here. Instead, some Christian groups are opposing hate crimes protection for gays because it is part of a “homosexual agenda.” Apparently racial and religious groups are entitled to pursue their agendas but gays are not. Pacific Standard magazine reports: “For the past two decades, much of the resistance to hate-crimes legislation has been orchestrated by a trio of intertwined conservative Christian groups. The oldest and most prominent is Focus on the Family, the Colorado-based ministry founded by James Dobson. The sprawling organization, which produces a vast array of media on biblical topics and funds anti-abortion counseling centers for pregnant women, operated on a budget of nearly $90 million in 2013, the last year for which full tax records are available. Focus on the Family portrays hate crimes laws as part of a plot to marginalize Christians and ban them ’from the public arena’.”

But nearly every state now has such laws, and refusing to approve them because of prejudice against gays when they have been passed to protect other groups is just another kind of hate crime.

Our second concern, less important, deals with matters close to home—tourism. The Clark County Convention and Visitors Authority and Clark casinos have, over the past quarter century, cultivated gay visitors to the point that it is now one of the top destinations for gay tourism (see 15 Minutes, page 31).

Which raises the question, where have tourism authorities at the state and Washoe County levels been, and why have northern casinos not been as active as their southern counterparts. This is 2017. This tourism market is, at best, moribund—and in a time of recovery, too.

It’s long past time our tourism officials shed their discomfort with life as it is really lived, and get some customers.