I think this says it all — why the Defense of Marriage Act needs to bite the dust. If the same-sex partner of an American pioneer in space — Sally Ride — they were together 27 years — cannot receive the same benefits due to any other federal employee in a heterosexual marriage, we are sending a terrible message to our next generation about our values.
Even the NYT couldn’t give Sally Ride her due out of the closet. (GLAAD):
If the New York Times is the “paper of record” then it’s right now missing a crucial part of that record. It became known that American hero Sally Ride, who passed away this week, had been in a relationship with a woman for more than a quarter-century. Her sister has said plainly in interviews that her family wants part of Dr. Ride’s enduring legacy to be as a hero to the LGBT community – a member of the community that they “didn’t know they had.” [cont’d.]
Journalism is about telling the whole story. This week BuzzFeed’s Chris Geidner did it. The New York Times did not. The New York Times owes it to its readers, and to its own journalistic integrity, to tell the full story. Although Dr. Ride’s relationship with a woman wasn’t publicly known to those outside her community during her lifetime, her family now wants both the LGBT community and those living with pancreatic cancer to know about the hero they share.
Sally Ride’s legacy is that of an immeasurably strong woman, who not only went far in the male-dominated fields of science and aerospace, she literally went farther than almost any other human in the history of our planet. We’ve known that for decades. Now, we’ve all just discovered another piece of that legacy. There is a part of Dr. Ride’s story that has not yet fully been told, and her family has clearly indicated should be told. The history books need to make clear that Sally Ride was the first known member of the LGBT community in space.
That sounds like news that’s “fit to print” to us. One of the paper’s blog authors did bring it up in a blog post, but the New York Times can’t leave the only printed mention of Sally Ride’s relationship as a line in the forty-second of forty-three paragraphs of her obituary, and it can’t go without bringing specific attention to the fact that her relationship was with another woman. The Times has already ignored this part of the Dr. Ride’s legacy for three days. It’s well past time for the paper to talk to the family about this part of Sally Ride’s story, and show Americans another side of this national hero.
NASA’s culture may have deterred Ride from coming out prior to her death (she approved her sister telling her story), but there’s no excuse for the NYT or any media to avoid discussing her sexual orientation and the historical importance of her accomplishments. (Huff Po):
Although NASA does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, Michael Cassutt, author of five books and hundreds of articles about human spaceflight, said coming out would until recently have been “a career-wrecker” for an astronaut. “Not for any formal reason, but in the same way that any medical issue or even some kind of notoriety has been an astronaut career-wrecker,” Cassutt told SPACE.com.
“Any issue that detracts from the mission is or has been the kind of thing an astronaut wants to avoid. It isn’t NASA politics; it is NASA politics as practiced at the astronaut office,” Cassutt said, adding that the office has often resembled a “military squadron.”
A NASA spokesman told SPACE.com that astronauts decide for themselves what to reveal about their private lives.
“Certainly we try to be open with their professional activities and beyond that what they reveal privately is pretty much up to them,” said the spokesman, who asked not to be named. Still, the fact remains that no astronauts have ever come out as gay or lesbian, while many astronauts include mention of their husbands, wives or children on their NASA official biography pages. (As of today, Ride’s NASA bio page was updated to mention that she is survived by her mother, with no mention of her partner.)