When I got home, All Things Considered was playing on the radio (I leave NPR on during the day for Alex, my cat), and I heard two stories in a row with gay themes; so I’ve been listening to the entire broadcast again, and the two stories were just replayed.
The first segment of interest was entitled “Hate Crimes”: “Senators today called for laws that would expand federal penalties for violence against gays.” Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) today reintroduced the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (LLEEA), which would add real or perceived sexual orientation (along with gender and disability) to federal hate crimes legislation.
ATC host Robert Siegel suggested that the legislation may have been given new life by Rick Santorum’s remarks about homosexuality (which I’ve ranted about extensively in this journal). Co-sponsor Gordon Smith (R-OR), described by Melissa Block as a “conservative Oregon Republican,” noted:
…This is the right thing to do. It’s the right time to do it. We are fighting a war on terrorism abroad and yet there’s a war of terrorism at home, as is visited upon thousands of our countrymen every day.
In the next segment, “Detroit Gays Gentrify Neighborhoods”, reporter Cheryl Corley took a look at a leading real estate developer that has advertised in the local gay newspaper, trying to attract gay residents to a downtown that is currently undergoing revival. The president of the development company, which is building loft apartments in these neighborhoods, made the following statement:
The gay community tends to have the guts to go into an area as pioneers, before the masses arrive. I think that the gay community also has the tendencies to actually go out and put their money where their mouth is and invest in the city around them.
Corley went on to state that “some researchers agree that cities with a sizable gay community can lead to a vibrant local economy,” and she points to the “Gay Index” and “Creative Class Theory” by researcher Richard Florida (web site), Heinz Professor of Economic Development at Carnegie Mellon University and a current Visiting Scholar at the Brookings Institution here in DC. Florida’s theory postulates that “communities that mix technology, talent and tolerance are the most successful.”
Support your local NPR station; you generally won’t hear positive stories like these on commercial radio, or on commercial or even cable television.
A few quotes from the op-ed:
The key to understanding America’s technological and economic vibrancy lies in our openness to new people and ideas. Tolerance of immigrants, gays and other minorities is much more important to sustained economic growth and the high-paying jobs than the tax cut President Bush has in mind.
…[T]he big new-ideas and cutting-edge industries that lead to sustained prosperity are more likely to exist where gay people feel welcome. Most centers of tech-based business growth also have the highest concentrations of gay couples. Conversely, major areas with relatively few gay couples tend to be slow- or no-growth places.
…Innovation and overall regional economic vitality also are closely associated with the presence of gays and other indicators of tolerance and diversity, such as the percentage of immigrants and the level of racial and ethnic integration.
Why? Creative, innovative and entrepreneurial activities tend to flourish in the same kinds of places that attract gays and others outside the norm.
…What’s less well known, and what I’ve found in interviewing a wide range of people nationwide, is that more than a few heterosexual men and women say that they look for a “visible gay community” as a signal of a place that’s likely to be both exciting and comfortable. These straight people also say they will ask if prospective employers if the firm offers same-sex partner benefits. They’re looking for signs that nonstandard people–and ideas–are welcome.
This last paragraph above had me doing a double-take, and then elicited an incredible warm fuzzy feeling. This amazing statement actually managed to override my almost omnipresent and ever-mounting cynicism about America, at least for the moment. I don’t think I want to read any more news this evening, for fear of losing that sense of hopefulness.
But I’m still cynical enough to note that I don’t expect to see our President (or his “inclusive” friends in Congress) introduce a “Homosexual-Stimulus Plan” (or better yet, “Package”) anytime soon–though the mere phrase may give me some nice dreams tonight.