Watching the TV gabfest “The View” is one of my guilty pleasures. Call me shallow, but I enjoy the show’s often campy mix of topical political and celeb chat. You may want to take away my liberal, lesbian carrying card, when I tell you this: I found conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who recently left “The View” after being a co-host of the show for 10 years, to be an engaging, and over time, LGBT-friendly presence on the program.
Her conservative take on cultural and political issues not only forced the other, liberal co-hosts to articulate their views more clearly, but, brought a different perspective to the table. Even when cringe-worthy, she was good TV. Though they’ll keep it hidden, I bet even progressives will miss seeing Hasselbeck verbally duke it out with “the ladies” of the “The View.”
It’s not that I have any connection with Hasselbeck. I’ve never Tweeted, let alone met her, and I disagree with her on most everything from “government mandates” to her opinions about unemployment and the economy. I have no love for the Tea Party, social conservatives or those who would abolish the social safety net protections (such as the Food Stamp program). Nor am I a fan of Fox News, where Hasselbeck will be a co-host of “Fox & Friends,” starting in mid-September. As Blade editor Kevin Naff wrote in this paper, “Fox News, which every casual media observer knows is a mere extension of the Republican Party PR machine.”
This being said, I can’t help but like Hasselbeck. As a baseball lover, how could I think that Hasselbeck, a die-hard Red Sox Nation fan, could be all bad?
On a serious note, I’ve felt a growing affinity with and respect for Hasselbeck, because over the past decade, she has increasingly supported the LGBT community. Unlike many in her political circles (such as Michele Bachmann, the National Organization for Marriage or Sarah Palin), Hasselbeck, has evolved in her beliefs on marriage equality.
In 2008, Hasselbeck told Melissa Etheridge that she supported Prop 8. “… Thomas Jefferson wrote a paper [saying] the rights of the minority should never be voted on by the majority,” Etheridge said to her.
In 2009, Hasselbeck asked Portia de Rossi, “Men and women – women want all the rights of men, but they’re not asking to be called men … do you think … is the word [marriage] more important than the rights?”
“Of course it’s not the word,” de Rossi responded, “without the word, we don’t have equal rights … every citizen of this country should have that right to be married.”
Yet, over time, Hasselbeck’s views on marriage equality have changed. In 2010, she endorsed same-sex marriage. What caused her to change her views? “I had Melissa Etheridge over, we had dinner, we talked for hours about gay marriage,” Hasselbeck said, “and I would challenge people instead of just hating on it … talk to someone who’s loved someone else and have the conversation about what can be done.”
In 2011, Hasselbeck spoke out against anti-marriage protests when same-sex marriage became legal in New York. “To protest someone’s day I find to be without taste,” she said, “the only thing that’s killing heterosexual marriage is heterosexual marriage.”
Hasselbeck hasn’t, by any means, been a perfect LGBT ally. It sounded like a “Saturday Night Live” skit when she said hetero older women become queer because “all the older men are going for younger women, leaving the women with no one.”
Yet, despite such bizarre and wrong-headed statements, I respect Hasselbeck for supporting same-sex marriage. Fighting for justice is a messy struggle filled with imperfections. In our fight for marriage equality, we need conservative allies. I wish Hasselbeck well and hope that she remains, however imperfect, an LGBT ally.