Brad Pitt Stirs the Gay-Marriage Pot

Any time Brad Pitt drops a hint about marrying — or not marrying — Angelina Jolie, it gets the world’s entertainment press all in a froth. And judging by recent events, that goes double when he simultaneously seems to take a stand on the politics of marriage laws in America.

So can the attention he draws to the cause, in publications ranging from Us Weekly to the Baltimore Sun, be counted on to help the strategy of those fighting for gay marriage in the courts, Legislature and among the public in California? If celebrity news gets your cerebrum to mulling such things, you might have enjoyed the question posed yesterday by a reporter at a media briefing hosted by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality California: For groups like them, how much is an aside worth from the likes of People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive (1995, 2000)?

The quote that got the froth going this month came in the current issue of Esquire — which quotes Pitt saying that “Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able.”

Mulling the significance on Wednesday, the assessment in San Francisco was a mixed bag. (For the record, the conversation only briefly touched on Pitt. Much more time was devoted to the state of current legislation and litigation the two groups are involved in.)

Kate Kendell, executive director of NCLR, initially joked that “I think it’s terrific that we provide such cover for commitment-phobic men.” (She got some laughs for that one too — c’mon, she wasn’t the only one thinking it.) But more seriously, she noted the prevalence of celebrity coverage in this country and predicted that the wisdom of Pitt may hold some weight as a result. “I loved it when Brad Pitt said what he said, regardless of his motives.”

But in response to a question from an LGBT newspaper in San Francisco, EQCA political and policy director Seth Kilbourn also acknowledged that some people may (OK, must) perceive Hollywood as a place famous for famous people trivializing marriage already. So support from Hollywood types might cut both ways.

But EQCA executive director Geoff Kors seemed to be keeping in mind the conventional wisdom: that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Any stories that bring attention to the issue may cause people to ponder it, he said. And “Brad Pitt caused a lot of stories.”

Pam Smith

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