But what about interviews with people who think homosexuality should be criminalized, that gay people are immoral, and that same-sex relationships destroy society and are harmful to children? Sadly, those too are on CNN, and they're often used in segments that only serve to elevate the most radical anti-gay voices in the United States.
In late 2010, activist/writer Dan Savage made a critical point about the responsibility of media outlets like CNN in how they cover LGBT issues. Savage took CNN to task for feeling the need to "balance" stories about LGBT rights with voices that oppose homosexuality ferociously.
"There are no ‘two sides’ to the issue of LGBT rights," Savage told CNN at the time. "Right now one side is really using dehumanizing rhetoric. The Southern Poverty Law Center labels these groups as hate groups and yet the leaders of these groups ... are welcomed onto networks like CNN to espouse hate directed at gays and lesbians. And similarly hateful people who are targeting Jews or people of color or anyone else would not be welcome to spew their bile on CNN.”
Such an important point, and now the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is echoing Savage's words, by urging CNN to adopt a new year's resolution not to legitimize the anti-gay industry.
GLAAD's latest action takes a look at a December 21 debate on CNN's John King, where the subject was "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The segment featured Alexander Nicholson, an openly gay man and former Army intelligence officer who was able to talk about life as a gay soldier. Pretty qualified guest, right?
But instead of pairing him with someone who could talk about military issues, CNN sought "objective" coverage from Peter Sprigg, a senior leader with the Family Research Council whose biggest claim to fame is that he wants LGBT people arrested because of their 'immoral' sexual orientation or gender identity. But providing Sprigg a megaphone for his views isn't "objective" coverage. Instead, it's giving credence to a commentator who only wants to stoke hatred toward a large chunk of the American population.
"The media is saying that people like Alexander Nicholson, who can speak to real-life experience and firsthand facts, need to be 'balanced' by people like Peter Sprigg, whose claim to fame is arguing that being gay should be outlawed," writes GLAAD. "If CNN wants to interview a gay person who believes being straight should be outlawed, THEN Peter Sprigg would be an acceptable 'balance.'"
The point here is simple: when networks like CNN turn to voices like Sprigg to debate things like DADT, employment nondiscrimination, marriage equality, or bullying, they're only legitimizing a belief system that says gay people are immoral, don't deserve rights, and should be legally punished. Does CNN really want to own that?
Send the network a message, urging them to adopt GLAAD's proposed new year's resolution to stop feeding the anti-gay industry screen time for hatred.
petition text -
With the new year upon us, I am asking you to make a resolution to keep anti-gay groups off of your airwaves.
When a story impacts the LGBT community, think about how you would treat the story if it impacted any other group of people. If you were running a story about education, would you seek out the opinion of someone who hates teachers? If you were running a story about agriculture, would you invite a guest who believes farming is a sin? Of course not, yet the anti-gay point of view is one you seek out regularly.
These groups, whose only qualification is their animosity towards LGBT equality, bring absolutely nothing of value to your airwaves – and by inviting them on, you're only lending them your credibility and elevating their messages. If you are seeking a second opinion on issues of LGBT rights, I ask you to stay away from members of the anti-gay industry, and instead consult actual experts. No matter what the exact topic, you should always be able to find a professional who can offer something beyond animus. Educators, scholars, consultants, psychologists, military historians, medical professionals – no matter what field your story is related to, you can always find an actual expert who can bring something of real value to these conversations.
In this New Year, I am asking you to please stop giving these anti-gay activists a platform for their false and dangerous messages, and instead give your audience the information they need.
[Your name here]