GLAA responds to anti-gay slander aired on News 4
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GLAA responds to anti-gay slander aired on News 4

From:Rick Rosendall;
Sent:Friday, April 22, 2005 7:39 PM
Subject:Anti-gay slander on News 4

To: Dyana Mason, Executive Director, Equality Virginia

Dear Dyana,

Earlier this evening on Washington's News 4 television, there was a story on the controversy over a student-led program being held at George Mason University titled "Sextravaganza." In the story, a state senator (I didn't catch his name, but I expect he is notorious in your parts) was interviewed saying, "You cannot have safe homosexual sex. And that's what they're selling." (I am going by memory, but this is close if not exact.) [Ed. note: It was State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax).]

I hope that you respond strongly to this outrageous slander by a Virginia legislator. It is incredible, given the high proportion of STDs caused by heterosexual teenage sex, that anyone would be so brazen as to suggest that gay sex is somehow uniquely unsafe. It is also deeply ironic that, in response to a student effort to educate their peers about sexual matters, a public official would promulgate something so ignorant, defamatory, and counterproductive. On the other hand, that head-in-the-sand reaction from a right-wing state senator helps to illustrate why such an educational program by those enterprising GMU students is needed.

I am writing this in part to urge reporters and editors at News Channel 4 to be more aware of slander disguised as health advocacy. The senator's statement is not merely disagreeable, it is false and harmful. To single out gay people with a message that safe sex is impossible for them is to tell gay youth that the only option for them is lifelong celibacy, bogus reparative therapy that encourages loveless, sham heterosexual marriages, or suicide. The fact is that no sex, heterosexual or homosexual, is perfectly safe. There are, however, specific behaviors that can significantly reduce risk, including the proper use of condoms. Abstinence is certainly a part of any comprehensive sex education program, but to make that the only message is effectively to sentence many young people to deadly diseases through ignorance.

And this doesn't even get us to the senator's demonization of homosexuality. If such a slander against an entire population group is going to be aired, a response to that particular point should also be included. But we object to reducing all news stories to a mere exchange of assertions, as if there are no facts to be reported. It is simply false to suggest that gay sex is uniquely unsafe, and responsible news organizations should not allow themselves to be used to throw such red meat out into the community.

I must say it is extremely off-putting to come home after a long day and turn on the TV to relax in front of my favorite local newscast, only to hear myself and all my gay friends defamed.


Rick Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.

cc: Matt Glassman, News 4
Andrew Borchini, Southeastern Regional Media Manager, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

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