In recent weeks New Mobility has received a handful of letters from readers complaining about what they perceive as liberal bias in the magazine. Two specific stories — one major and one not, both of which appeared in our February issue — were cited as evidence of these claims. One reader disliked our February cover story on lesbian couples, pointedly asking, “Why do you think their sexual orientation is important to your readers?”
For 18 years, our February issue has been dedicated to a specific theme — “Sex, Wheels, and Relationships.” This last February was the 13th “SWR” cover we have run since I became editor of NM. It was also the first time that we have featured a lesbian couple on the cover. We focused on this topic because it involves certain wheelchair users whose desire to pledge their love and marry has traditionally been opposed by law and public opinion.
Our decision to air the topic of same sex marriage was not politically based; it was an outgrowth of our mission to report on cultural issues that affect people with disabilities, and we chose to do it in this particular issue because its focus is always on disability and sexuality. Not only was the story thematically appropriate, it also touched on what more and more people consider to be a form of discrimination — another important topic to our readers.
Another reader called to cancel his subscription because our monthly Crip Buzz page — which reports on “the best of blogs and banter” — reprinted an item originally published in The Huffington Post, widely considered to be a liberal news website. The headline of the piece as it originally ran on that site — unfortunately — was “Why the Disability Community Should Be Done with the Republican Party for Good.” The author argued that Republican legislators’ overwhelming refusal to vote for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities signaled similar lack of Republican support for future legislation on disability programs, such as Medicare and Social Security.
The reprinted item was a warning that made sense based on current political trends, but the title of the piece was poorly chosen. More importantly, it ignored the support of Republicans for critical disability legislation in the past. The disability community should never forget that the Americans with Disabilities Act was supported and signed by Republican President George H. W. Bush, and that numerous Republicans worked hard to craft the landmark law and push it through, among them Evan Kemp, Justin Dart (a Republican at the time), Lex Frieden, Dick Thornburgh, and others who worked on Bush’s staff. Most importantly, the ADA was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and Senate. President Bush, upon signing it, said, “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”
The disability community needs the support of the Republican Party. And New Mobility is dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities, regardless of prevailing political ideologies.