But, as Moscowitz shows, LGBT organizations figured out ways to respond. They sent video tapes of gays and lesbians in domestic settings—"walking their dog, cooking dinner, coming home from work"—to the TV networks for use as background, or “b-roll,” footage for related news stories. They worked to get LGBT-friendly religious leaders in front of the cameras.
The campaign against negative representation, particularly in the gay marriage debate, was effective. As Moscowitz points out though, the LGBT community’s public relations successes have created some problems as well. In particular, the push for gay marriage has drawn attention away from other issues. For example, lesbian and gay people can still be fired for their sexual orientation in 24 states; transgender people can be fired in 44. (A national LGBT employment non-discrimination law is currently stalled in the House.)
More generally, the very topic of marriage equality foregrounds assimilation; those b-rolls sent to the studios presented LGBT people as typical middle-Americans, working middle-class jobs, raising kids, living the American dream. The half-naked Pride paraders were carefully pushed off center-stage. At the extremes, this trend meant gay people themselves were sidelined, as in the much-maligned failed 2012 Proposition 8 campaign in California, which focused on straight politicians and allies touting gay marriage rather than showing pictures of gay families (though, as Moscowitz says, a campaign in Maine the same year which centered on gay families also failed).
Moscowitz writes that, "in selling one particular version of gay and lesbian life, the movement risks unintentionally casting other forms of gay identity (not being part of a monogamous, married, child-rearing couple) to the margins." She argues that when news media chose LGBT weddings to highlight, they inevitably included couples who looked and acted as much like traditional heterosexual couples as possible. In a couple of instances, Moscowitz says, "one partner took the last name of the other, ironically participating in a heterosexist and patriarchal practice historically rooted in property ownership."
Moscowitz's general point is well-taken; assimilation is a loss as well as a triumph, and its rewards don't always extend to those who, for whatever reason, can't or won't fit themselves into the wedding cummerbund society demands. But is it really "ironic" for gays or lesbians to take on their partner's name? Does that really mean the couples in question are blind to patriarchy and property ownership? As an analogy: Moscowitz is in the academy, an institution which long restricted or outright excluded women. Is it ironic for her to be writing as a woman or advocating for gay rights in that context? Or does it show, not that Moscowitz is deluded, but that institutions can change? Similarly, when a woman takes another woman's name upon marriage, it could be seen not as ironic capitulation, but as an insistence that the rituals of marriage are about two becoming one in the name of love, rather than about property ownership. Assimilation is often seen as being a one-way process, in which a minority becomes more like the majority. But I think it could instead be viewed as a dialectic, which changes not just the assimilated but the assimilator as well.