GLAAD Announces New Online Tool to Fight Anti-Gay Rhetoric

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Thursday March 15, 2012

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) recently launched a new online tool called the "Commentator Accountability Project," which will help educate the media about "the extreme rhetoric of over three dozen activists who are often given a platform to speak in opposition to LGBT people and the issues that affect their lives," the organization said in a statement.

"Hate is not an expert opinion," said GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick. "In most cases, news outlets invite reputable experts to speak on the subject at hand, but when talking about LGBT issues, open hostility and anti-LGBT bias seems to be all the credibility required. This project holds these so-called 'pundits' accountable for the extreme anti-LGBT rhetoric they continue to spread."

The project comes with a number of online sources that detail anti-LGBT, racist and anti-woman sentiments of nearly three dozen anti-LGBT commentators who have been on both national and local news stations.

"These activists have the right to recite their anti-LGBT talking points, but it is important to expose the questionable and often hostile rhetoric that passes as punditry when so-called 'experts' speak out against the lives of LGBT people on the air or in print," explained Graddick. "If networks are going to continue to invite those with incendiary anti-LGBT views on their programs, show runners should know the full picture of who these individuals really are so that critical context can be relayed to the audience."

GLAAD announced in an April 7, 2010, statement a "call to action" when CNN allowed Richard Cohen, an "ex-gay" activist, to speak on the network. Cohen discussed the efforts to repeal a California law that forces the State Department of Mental Health to conduct research into the "causes" and "curses" of being gay. Host Kyra Phillips asked, "Homosexuality: Is it a problem in need of a cure?" Cohen discussed "healing" gay people and was even labeled as a "psychotherapist, educator and expert in the field of sexual reorientation" by CNN.

In a statement made in January the organization called CNN out once again and said that the news network has a "giant blind spot when it comes to issues that impact the LGBT community" and that it turns to the "anti-gay industry to provide the counter-point." GLAAD asked the news network to drop its anti-gay activists for its "New Years resolution."

But CNN isn't the only network GLAAD has criticized. Last December the organization slammed Fox News for having Natalie Johnson and Liberty Council member Mathew Starver on the program, "America's News HQ." Johnson was fired from a Macy's department store in San Antonio, Texas, because she refused to allow a transgender customer to use the women's dressing room. GLAAD claims that the show's host, Shannon Bream, allowed Johnson and Starver to insult the transgender woman by calling her "a man with lipstick." GLAAD said that these programs have a responsibility to cover issues with a level of respect and civility.