The Strip Sense: What do gays have to do with it?

The Nevada Business Journal misses the mark on the meaning of conservative

Steve Friess

One of the funnest parts of taking on bigots is that their small-mindedness does not simply extend to whatever bias they present to the world. Almost without fail, they tend to also posit feeble and illogical arguments to support their views.

And so it was last week when a local writer named Don Jones wrote to Lyle Brennan, editor of the monthly Nevada Business Journal, to take issue with part of Brennan’s recent screed against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Brennan’s scathing assessment of the most powerful political figure in state history was humming along pretty comfortably, analyzing the fiscal impact of a variety of Reid’s positions, when Jones was socked in the gut by this line:

“I believe that Harry Reid is basically a decent guy, but in his position as Majority Leader, he now appears to support some pretty awful proposals. The entire ‘progressive’ agenda is based on the premise that there are no moral absolutes. In fact, let’s hand out condoms to middle-schoolers and show them how to use them. Gay marriage is great, and the worst kind of smut should be allowed into our homes over the public airwaves.”

Jones is gay, and so am I. He was offended—and so am I—by the snark in this passage and copied me on the note he sent to call Brennan on his homophobia. “Your January 2008 Commentary made it clear that I, as a gay business owner, am neither welcome in your pages nor supported by your agenda,” Jones eloquently explained.

Brennan, to his credit, responded. What he said, however, was silly. He claimed that since the matter was on his opinion page, nobody ought to be upset by it. He also noted that his support of marriage inequality came from his personal religious beliefs and then insisted he’s not a bigot because—wait for it—he’s got gay staffers.

But here’s the best part of Brennan’s answer: “It has been a goal of this publication to be a conservative business voice to our state. It is not our goal to offend any one group or individual, but we believe it to be our responsibility to voice the concern of the conservative business collective of Nevada.”

In two sentences, he destroyed his own position. His religious opposition to gay marriage is one thing, and it’s bound to offend groups and individuals. But, more importantly, there are few in the business community who believe same-sex marriage is an economic threat.

In fact, the precise opposite is true. Can’t you imagine the rainbow-colored tsunami of gay couples who would flood the Strip to get hitched? A few years ago when gay marriage was being legalized in random places over the nation—only to see it halted everywhere except in Massachusetts—couples were flocking to such uninteresting places as New Paltz, New York, and Bernalillo, New Mexico, to tie knots.

It is clearly within the business interests of Nevada companies to legalize same-sex marriage and reap the bounty that would follow. Las Vegas is already the second most popular travel destination for gays and lesbians, according to a California market-research firm, ahead of such meccas as San Francisco and Miami.

There’s a reason why the major resorts have almost all thrown open their wedding chapels to legally insignificant but personally meaningful gay union ceremonies. MGM Mirage and Harrah’s now spar for bragging rights as the most gay-friendly company, openly gay performers are commonplace on the Strip, and even a man as notoriously Republican as Sheldon Adelson recently told me he considers himself to be a “social liberal.” Heck, the LVCVA now provides showboys for floats in the Gay Pride Parade in New York to promote the destination to this segment and eagerly courted the upcoming convention of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.

Brennan knows this is a state where even the most conservative businessmen enjoy the profits from a list of activities that wouldn’t pass muster in church. The cheapening of straight marriage began right here with our proud and profitable quickie wedding and divorce industry.

What’s more, Brennan’s cheap shot at Reid on gay marriage was also inaccurate. The senator has long opposed same-sex marriage, and, anyhow, Congress hasn’t had any legislation to consider on the matter in the year that Brennan was critiquing. Perhaps Brennan is referring to Reid’s 2006 efforts to stall the radical Federal Marriage Amendment; the senator said he preferred to let the states decide such matters. On almost any other issue, that’s the “conservative” view.

Brennan insisted he meant no offense, which is a lie, and his Bible says that’s a sin. Regardless of how many gay people work for Brennan, the sentence Jones spotted was simply mean-spirited and offensive. An honorable person would at least acknowledge as much.

The best part of all of this was that, in rooting around the Nevada Business Journal website for information about “Nevada’s only statewide business journal,” I came across the editorial calendar for the year as posted for potential advertisers.

Next month’s cover story? “Minority-Owned Businesses: An overview of Nevada businesses owned by minorities and their contributions to the economy.”

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t wait!

Read Steve Friess’ daily blog at and catch his weekly celeb-interview podcast at He can be reached at [email protected]

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