UPDATE: There’s quite a bit of huffing and puffing over at NoVA Townhall, as the use of children in the anti-family amendment campaign is subjected to critical scrutiny. This appears to have been quite widespread. I don’t at all think that what is offensive about this has to do with getting young people engaged in the political process – that’s something we should all enthusiastically support. What so many find unethical is the use of children as billboards for their parents’ viewpoints – or as little props, as in this photo of Rick Santorum’s concession speech. Here’s what one observer had to say:
I watched that concession speech on TV last night and I noticed that little girl immediately. Mom and Dad made sure her little scrunched-up crying face was front and center the whole time – carefully pushing her forward, straightening her towards the cameras every now and then. How despicable to use their children this way. I pity these poor kids.
It is the parents who are responsible for putting their daughter in this position, and it is they who are being taken to task here, not the child. It is her parents who created this little scene, not the journalists who recorded it.
What we saw over and over on election day were very small children plastered with stickers and instructed to hand out very controversial literature for a cause that they couldn’t possibly understand. This, I think, reveals a certain attitude toward children: That they exist only to satisfy the desires of their parents, and should have no expectation of dignity and autonomy. There is further evidence of this view in the statement “Most parents want their children to marry someone of the opposite sex” (Joe was shouting in the original – I eased the volume down). As a parent, all I want is for my kid to be a happy, healthy and kind person, so this degree of specificity is a bit suspect. It sounds to me like these parents are more interested in their own causes than they are in the happiness of their children. What do they do when a child turns out to be gay? Throw them away? Too often, that is exactly what they do.
There is seemingly an inability to differentiate between normal family activities and this unethical use of children, as expressed in a comment about the participation of gay families in the White House Easter Egg Roll this spring. Sorry, but no. I think there is a quite obvious, glaring difference between simply taking your family to a children’s event, and dressing your children up as a bride and groom and parading them through the streets of Leesburg to make a political statement. The latter is, frankly, disturbing and creepy.
This is also not about objections to political content in the Leesburg Parade. Obviously, our own float had such content – although ours was in keeping with the Independence Day theme – and we have been vocal in defending that aspect of the holiday. This is about a particular crass use of children as political props, and the fact that those who do this are unable to see anything wrong with their behavior.
For the record, the (unnamed) people who did this at this year’s parade gave permission to Equality Loudoun to take photos. Not that permission was needed at a public event, but we did ask. The few photos taken of this family while decorating their car have been part of this Fourth of July page since we posted it. I wish that we had some photos of the finished float, but we never saw them finish the parade.
For those of you who worked a poll for the Vote No campaign, how about sharing some stories? In my travels to visit numerous polling places, I saw instances of the volunteers on opposing sides laughing and getting along, and also some instances of unpleasant behavior. One story I heard involved a “Vote Yes” volunteer wearing a wedding dress, with which she tried to physically block her counterparts from talking to voters. Let’s hope that she was at least a consenting adult – unlike this unfortunate child, who was put into this dress on a 95 degree day in July.
What did you see and hear out there?