Yes, Anita, there is an organized homosexual conspiracy to change the face of America. So say two reporters for the gay-rights magazine The Advocate. The origins of this ``conspiracy,'' according to Bull and Gallagher, are bound up in the civil-rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s and early '70s; through such now-famous instances as the Stonewall riot of 1969, the battle for gay rights became a part of the national political dialogue. At the same time, the authors write, another movement appeared, this one made up of ``religious conservatives who believe they are taking a last stand against moral decline,'' former anticommunists who now see in gay rights a threat to family values and American virtues. Each side, Bull and Gallagher maintain, is fueled by, and even dependent on, the other, invoking their opposite number as a bogeyman to instill fear in their followers. The tactic of appealing to such fears, the authors write, has worked and has even proved to be quite lucrative—for television evangelists like Jerry Falwell and former celebrities like Anita Bryant, who gained visibility and influence in opposition to the gay Other, as well as for many gay-rights organizations. The coevolution has taken some strange turns, especially with the onset of the AIDS epidemic, with fundamentalist Christians arguing that they are discriminated against by the laws mandating the separation of church and state, and gays presenting themselves as victims of a new holocaust. As these two movements battle each other, Bull and Gallagher tell us, they are changing the course of national politics, enlisting the Democrats on the one hand and the Republicans on the other to press their arguments. The authors invite us to watch their analysis play out in the 1996 presidential race. A fascinating and remarkably balanced study of one of the culture wars' most actively contested fronts.
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