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Homosexuality and bisexuality

Dr. Laura Schlessinger and homosexuality

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Quotations:

According to various sources, Dr. Laura Schlessinger has said or written:

bullet"A huge portion of the male homosexual populace is predatory on young boys."6
bullet"If you're gay or lesbian it's a biological error."6
bullet"I call homosexual practices deviant."6
bullet"The First Amendment is not the 11th Commandment. Its protection does not extend to ALL speech."6
bullet"When we have the word 'homosexual,' we are clarifying the dysfunction, the deviancy, the reality." 7
bullet"....[reparative] therapies which have been successful in helping a reasonable number of people become heterosexual." 7
bullet"...I believe that homosexual behavior is deviant; that when homosexuals adopt children, these children are intentionally robbed of a necessary mom and dad..." 8
bullet"I'm sorry, hear it one more time perfectly clearly: If you're gay or a lesbian, it's a biological error that inhibits you from relating normally to the opposite sex.  The fact that you are intelligent, creative and valuable is all true. The error is in your inability to relate sexually intimately, in a loving way to a member of the opposite sex - it is a biological error." Quoted from Dr. Laura's Website, 1998-DEC-8

Quotations about Dr. Laura:

bullet"Her [Dr. Laura's] perorations strongly suggest that many gays are predators, eager to convert new members to the faith.  She urges parents to avoid bringing kids into the company of possibly gay relatives." Reuters/Variety on Dr. Laura, February 13, 2000

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The conflict:

According to Wikipedia:

"Prior to 1997, Schlessinger was very supportive to gay callers during her radio show. In those years, she took issue with Christian religious leaders who were opposed to gay relationships, and said that it was cruel to deny love and happiness to gay couples. She renounced this view in 1997, however, and said she had been misinformed in her earlier views. Soon, her monologues approvingly mentioned ex-gay groups who claimed they could help homosexuals become heterosexual, and she attacked the American Psychological Association for condemning the position of ex-gay groups. Schlessinger cited Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a Harvard-, MIT- and UT-educated psychiatrist, as support for her revised views on homosexuality." 25

Dr. Laura now broadcasts a 3 hour long, radio program each weekday on a network of over 500 radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. She holds a Ph.D. in physiology -- not psychology as many have assumed. "Dr. Laura" has an estimated audience of 20 million people. Earlier, she signed a contract with Paramount TV to develop a syndicated daytime talk show which was tentatively called "My Kid's Mom." The name was later changed to "Dr. Laura." The first episode of her TV show was aired on 2000-SEP-11. By early 2000-FEB, it was already scheduled to be in 85% of U.S. television markets; this rose to 91% by mid-March. Dr Laura:

bulletIs religiously conservative, a recent convert to Orthodox Judaism, who has since drifted away from the faith.
bulletHas described homosexuality as "deviant."

[Author's note: This statement has an element of truth to it; any trait that is held by a minority of individuals is, by definition, called "deviant" by sociologists, psychologists, etc. It is precisely that: a deviation from the norm. But "deviant" is a scientific term that is a near-synonym to the word "minority." Left-handedness and red hair are other deviant traits. Unfortunately, by using the words deviant and sex in the same sentence, and directing the statement to a general audience, the end effect is to generate public hatred against sexual minorities. She could use the term "minority sexual orientation" and avoid generating hatred.]

She has also described homosexuality as "a biological error." According to Eonline, she has said that society "should discriminate against certain behaviors" -- homosexual behavior being one of them. 3 According to StopDrLaura.com, "she has suggested that gays are likely to be involved in pedophilia." 5
bulletIs opposed to extending equal rights to gays and lesbian couples who wish to marry. She also opposes feminism, free access to abortion, and hate crimes legislation.
bulletShe favors censorship of the Internet.
bulletAdvocates reparative therapy as a method for gays and lesbians to convert their sexual orientation to heterosexuality. Author's note: Her beliefs are supported by a very small professional organization, NARTH, the (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality). However, reparative therapy has been condemned by all of the leading mental-health professional organizations in the U.S. as being worthless and potentially very dangerous.

Stephen Spurgeon, Communications Director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), listed matters of concern

"It's really three points: One is her vocabulary and the terminology that she uses; secondly, she only cites conservative sources, like the Family Research Council; and third, she just has a lack of respect for any view unlike her own." 8

According to CNSNews.com, Dr. Laura wrote in a recent column:

"Does my opposition to homosexual marriage and my advocacy of reparative therapy make me a bigot? No. But, because of my millions of radio listeners, my beliefs make me a threat to the radical goals of homosexual activists, who send me hate mail and death threats. To my way of thinking, their well-organized campaign against my freedom of speech is rhetorical thuggery at best and religious persecution at worst." 

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News items about Dr. Laura's radio and TV shows:

bullet2000-FEB: Dr. Schlessinger received a prestigious award from the National Religious Broadcasters. This is a predominately Fundamentalist Christian group.
bullet2000-FEB-14: Dr. Laura, Paramount TV Co- President Frank Kelly and representatives from GLAAD met to discuss Dr. Laura's upcoming TV show. Paramount and GLAAD issued a joint statement saying, in very diplomatic language, that: "The meeting created a positive exchange of differing perspectives." Dr. Laura apparently did not contribute to the preparation of the statement.
bullet2000-FEB-16: A spokesperson for Dr. Laura said that she had "held her ground absolutely" and will retain total control over what expert opinion will be heard on her TV show concerning reparative therapy.
bullet2000-FEB-24: A letter was sent to Dr. Laura, signed by more than 1000 prominent clergy and dozens of medical, child-welfare and civil rights organizations. It pointed out that:

 "The anti-gay beliefs you espouse on a regular basis - that homosexuality is 'deviant' and that gays can and should be cured -- are entirely outside the mainstream of scientific thought...Your claim that homosexuality is a tragic pathology and that gays and lesbians can and should be 'cured' by 'reparative therapy' is not only inaccurate but also promotes the idea that there is something wrong with being gay...nowhere are the consequences of anti-gay feelings more apparent than in the high number of suicides among gay youth. ... While suicide is the ultimate consequence of homophobia, studies find that gay youth - and youth who are perceived to be gay - are more likely to get beat up, feel isolated, and have trouble in school...Dr. Laura, we are not saying that you should be censored. Nor are we implying that you don't have the right to express yourself. We are simply saying this: Young people who are otherwise happy and healthy are being taught to hate themselves simply because they are gay...As the most powerful radio show host in America, you understand the effects of language on children. It is within your power to use your wit and intelligence to help kids by speaking out against homophobia and anti-gay violence."

bullet2000-FEB-25 (approx): The Child Welfare League of America, the National Mental Health Association of America and the Horizons Foundation ran full-page ads in the New York Times, L.A. Times, San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner They asked Dr. Laura to consider the effect of her anti-gay rhetoric on children. Schlessinger did not respond. 
bullet2000-MAR-10: Dr. Laura released a statement which said that she never intended to "hurt anyone or contribute in any way to an atmosphere of hate or intolerance," when she commented about homosexuality on her radio program. She continued:

"Regrettably, some of the words I've used have hurt some people, and I am sorry for that. Words that I have used in a clinical context have been perceived as judgment. They were not meant to characterize homosexual individuals or encourage others to disparage homosexuals." 10

bullet2000-MAR-12: GLAAD released a statement saying that:

"... an apology without a fundamental change in behavior is meaningless. If Schlessinger is sincere in her apology to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, then it must be accompanied by a change in her actions."

They also complimented Paramount for its "shared commitment to present society's issues without creating or contributing to an environment of hurt, hate or intolerance." 

bullet2000-MAR-13: Paramount issued a statement that supported Dr. Laura's upcoming TV show, which they described as a:

"... discussion of our society's moral and ethical issues in an environment free from hate, intolerance or the censorship of speech and ideas...We are committed to the production of Dr. Laura's upcoming television show which is planned to include multiple points of view, derived from a variety of sources, guests and a studio audience." 

bullet2000-MAR-21: StopDrLaura.com & Horizons Foundation held a protest from 8:30 to 10:30 AM, PST, at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood -- at the gates of Paramount Studios.
bullet2000-MAY-11: Focus on the Family, a Christian Fundamentalist organization reported that:
bulletStation manager Jay Cashio of KING-TV in Seattle said: "We're very conscious of (GLAAD's) concerns and are looking at many of the comments that have been made by Dr. Laura in the past and looking at the context in which she was making those comments."
bulletFocus states that "former Seinfeld star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus...recently contended that Schlessinger called homosexuals 'deviants.' Yet Schlessinger denies making any denigrating remarks toward homosexuals."
bulletFocus quotes Ms. Schlessinger as saying on the Larry King Show that: "People who have a very emotionally packed point of view and an agenda unfortunately often misrepresent, misconstrue and, frankly, downright fib." 11
bullet2000-MAY-18: United Airlines spokesperson Matthew Triaca stated that the company has dropped ads for Dr. Laura's radio program from its in-flight magazine Hemispheres because her views run contrary to the airline's "corporate commitment to respecting our employees as well as our customers." The syndicator of Schlessinger's radio show, Premiere Radio Networks, said that its contract for two half-pages of advertising was for the March issue only "and was fulfilled." 12
bullet2000-MAY-26: Proctor & Gamble has decided to not sponsor advertisements on Dr. Laura's TV show. United Airlines has decided to not run ads in its in-flight magazine for Dr. Laura's radio show. Dr. James Dobson, founder and head of Focus on the Family, a Fundamentalist Christian non-profit group, stated that opposition to Dr. Laura stems from opposition to Schlessinger's religious convictions. He wrote: "She is standing virtually alone now against an onslaught that no one in a free country should have to tolerate...It's time that someone gave her a little encouragement." 13 Dr. Dobson recommends that people contact Proctor and Gamble to express their feelings on P&G's decision. He commented: "Political correctness must not be allowed to determine how the nation thinks. There must be pluralism. There must be differing views." Focus on the Family have a list of P&G personnel and contact methods that you can use. 14
bullet2000-MAY-26: Dr. Schlessinger announced that she is giving up her syndicated newspaper column in order to devote more time to her upcoming TV show.
bullet2000-JUN-14: The messengers (delegates) to the Southern Baptist Convention "overwhelmingly adopted a motion commending radio personality Laura Schlessinger for her staunch opposition to the homosexual lifestyle." 15 This motion was one of only two (out of 26 proposed) that reached the floor for a vote. Wiley Drake of Buena Park, CA, introduced the motion. He said: "She knows where we stand as Christians and she takes a strong stand for the family." The original motion was amended to confine it to her views on homosexuality only. No one spoke in opposition to the motion.
bullet2000-JUN-25: During an interview with Time, Dr. Schlessinger said:

"I never called homosexual human beings deviants. I have pointed out that homosexual behavior deviates from the norm of heterosexuality and is forbidden by Scriptures. That is basically the context... I stand behind basic civil rights — where someone is able to live, and work at his job — and always have. The only place where there is a divergence is the issue that I consider sacred: marriage and family structure around children." 16

bullet2000-SEP-11: The TV program premiered, ironically on 9/11.
bullet2000-SEP-21: In light of criticism from Washington about TV programming,  a panel of network executives was asked if there were programs on television they didn't feel they could defend. Garth Ancier, president of NBC's entertainment unit, said:  "I'm not embarrassed about anything on television, with the exception of 'Dr. Laura,' "
bullet2000-SEP-22: The program had received very poor ratings. Paramount had difficulty attracting national sponsors to the show because of a campaign led by gay-rights groups. They "objected to Schlessinger being given a TV forum because of her comments regarding homosexuality, which she has termed 'deviant' and 'a biological error.' " 17

LA Times reported on SEP-22 that production of the TV program has been stopped. 7 "...there was speculation inside Paramount, a division of Viacom, that the company will take advantage of the time off to 'retool' the show or revise its format." 

bullet2000-SEP-26: According to Maranatha Christian News Service, Dr. Laura's TV program attracted only 1.7% of American households with TV sets. This compares to 5.4% for "Oprah Winfrey" and 4.6% for "Live with Regis." "Paramount spokesperson Daniella Cracknell told Reuters the hiatus is normal and that the show was preparing for the ratings sweeps. She said it would be back in production on September 27." 18
bullet2000-OCT-13: According to ReligionToday and PlanetOut: Dr. Laura has apologized for the second time in recent months to homosexuals. She is an Orthodox Jew, and the Jewish High Holy Days had recently concluded. Dr. Laura took out a full-page ad in Daily Variety titled "A Heartfelt Message From Dr. Laura Schlessinger" It read in part: "" She said that the apology was "heartfelt." She said she deeply regrets "the hurt this situation has caused the gay and lesbian community. In March, she had said that "Some of the words I've used have hurt some people, and I am sorry for that.

She admitted that:
bullet"While I express my opinions from the perspective of an Orthodox Jew and a staunch defender of the traditional family, in talking about gays and lesbians some of my words were poorly chosen. Many people perceive them as hate speech. This fact has been personally and professionally devastating to me as well as to many others. Ugly words have been relentlessly repeated and distorted for far too long."

Gay and lesbian groups did not appear to be impressed:
bulletJoan Garry of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation commented:

"In a paid advertisement in the October 11 edition of Daily Variety, Laura Schlessinger once again blames others for the impact of her rhetoric, refusing to take responsibility for her precisely chosen, scientifically inaccurate descriptions of gay and lesbian lives. Schlessinger's tepid assertion that her anti-gay words were 'poorly chosen' represents another blow to her waning credibility. The notion that Schlessinger's words have somehow been 'distorted' is absurd. GLAAD has always offered Schlessinger's words verbatim and in full context. And more disturbingly, nowhere in her statement does Schlessinger say that she will stop using her ugly words to describe gays and lesbians. Schlessinger has demonstrated time and again that she refuses to be held accountable for what she says publicly. The anger Schlessinger caused by her words is too great and too profound to simply go away after a qualified admission of some guilt. Laura Schlessinger's cat-and-mouse game of words has gone on too long. Our community deserves better and awaits genuine words backed up by authentic actions."

bulletPlanetOut News Staff commented: "Moved by the atonement holiday the talk host took out an ad to say she's sorry for her anti-gay statements, but many think she has an apology deficit disorder." 19
bulletDeborah Levinson of About.com commented: "This [ad] is merely an 'I've-been-misunderstood- but-I'm-just-being-religious-anyway -so-won't-you-please-stop-picking-on-me- you're-not-only-hurting-my-feelings -but-you're-hurting-my-ratings' whine." 20
bullet2000-NOV-13: Show downgrades: "Since its Sept. 11 premiere, Dr. Laura had occupied high-profile timeslots between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. across the country. However, following nine weeks of scathing reviews, anemic ratings and fleeing advertisers, nine of the top ten (and 12 of the top 25) stations carrying Dr. Laura have downgraded Schlessinger to late-night timeslots, usually between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Among the markets to downgrade Dr. Laura are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, St. Louis, Orlando and Austin." 22
bullet2000-SEP-9: A three-day Stop Dr. Laura National Days of Protest started. It involved protests in 31 American cities.
bullet2000-DEC-7: Show downgrades: During 2000-NOV, 13 CBS stations dropped Dr Laura. The Seattle, WA station switched the program from 3 PM to 2 AM. 23
bullet2001-MAR-30: TV show cancelled: Dr. Slessinger released a statement confirming that the last episode of her TV show had been taped on the previous day. The movement to have Dr. Laura taken off TV was spearheaded by StopDrLaura.com. Their co-founder, Joel Lawson, said: "We generated a lot of press about her worst statements, and advertisers didn't want to read about themselves in the same sentence. The web site fueled protests, the protests fueled media coverage, and the coverage fueled more interest in the web site. We hit PR nirvana." 24

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Canadian reaction to Dr. Laura's TV show:

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, is a voluntary organization with members from about 450 Canadian TV and radio stations. They decided on 2000-MAY-17 Dr. Laura Schlessinger's "unremittingly heavy-handed and unambiguously negative characterization" of gays and lesbians violates Canadian broadcasting codes on human rights. They described her comments as "abusively discriminatory" and expressed concern that it might motivate unstable individuals to commit violence against gays and lesbians. A CBSC spokesperson commented:

"This [ruling] has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with comments that are made on an identifiable minority. It could be an identifiable minority by reason of the color of their skin; it could be by reason of their religion; it could be by reason of their gender. In this case it was by reason of their sexual orientation."

Their ruling mentioned that Dr. Laura characterized the homosexual behavior as "abnormal," "aberrant," "deviant," "disordered," "dysfunctional," and "an error." It stated that:

"The sexual practices of gays and lesbians are as much a part of their being as the color of one's skin or the gender, religion, age or ethnicity of an individual. To use such brutal language as she does about such an essential characteristic flies in the face of Canadian provisions relating to human rights."

In practice, the only result of this ruling is that member stations will be required to describe the CBSC ruling on air, during prime-time hours. No censorship of Dr. Laura's program will be imposed.

However, at least one Fundamentalist Christian group regards the ruling as censorship. Michael Johnston, spokesman for Kerusso Ministries, said:

"What's important about this from the perspective of Americans is that this is the future for America..."The kind of policies, particularly as they relate to non-discrimination policies, that homosexual activists are pushing and which are becoming increasingly acceptable in the eyes of the public, are taking us down this road to where anyone who disagrees is going to be censored from the public airways. ... The key evidence [about whether homosexual behavior is innate or learned] is to be found in some form of objective truth. And, since the founding of this country, there has been a consensus that there was an objective truth on which to base morality, on which to base public policy, and that was the Judeo-Christian understanding of human beings and of God. It is because we have jettisoned as a people that consensus that leads to this different position-taking based on opinion." 12

[Author's comment: We would point out an analogy in American history. When the U.S. was founded, there was a biblically-based consensus about slavery: that God condoned the institution by issuing parts of the Mosaic law to regulate it. St. Paul had every opportunity to comment on the immorality of slavery, but did not criticize it. It was only when individuals deviated from the Bible's clear statements about slavery that an abolition movement began. To paraphrase Johnston, "It is because we jettisoned as a people that biblical consensus on slavery that we lead to a different position-taking on human bondage based on opinion." Deviating from the clear mandate of Scriptures, the abolition movement was eventually successfully in freeing the slaves in the U.S. There is a near-consensus that society must jettison much of the Bible's stance on the role of women. There will be a near consensus that the same must happen over homosexuality in the future.]

A brief note in the Toronto Star on 2000-OCT-5 indicated that the Canadian TV stations which had carried Dr. Laura have decided to drop the show because of its low ratings.

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Related essay on this site:

bulletDr. Laura Schlessinger and Wicca (Neopaganism).

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References

  1. Lawrence Morahan, "Dr. Laura TV show to include 'opposing viewpoints,' CNSSews.com, 2000-FEB-16, at: http://www.conservativenews.org/ViewCulture.asp?Page=\\Culture\\ 
  2. Justin Torres, "Dr. Laura apologizes for comments on homosexuality," CNSNews.com, 2000-MAR-13 at: http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=\Culture\ 
  3. Emily Farache, "GLAAD not happy with Dr. Laura," at: http://www.eonline.com/News/Items/0,1,5850,00.html?yhnws 
  4. "Dr. Laura Links" is a list of links to comments about Dr. Laura. See: http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/8975/darthlaura.html
  5. "Protests announced against Paramount over 'Dr. Laura'," StopDrLaura.com press release, 2000-MAR-10. Available at: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/000310/dc_stopdrl_1.html 
  6. StopDrLaura web site is at: http://www.stopdrlaura.com 
  7. Norman Solomon, "Dr. Laura's abuse of power: The doctor as bully," Media Beat, at: http://www.tompaine.com/features/2000/02/28/1.html 
  8. Bill Berkowitz, "Dr. Laura's agenda: A missionary for the Christian Right," CultureWatch, at: http://www.tompaine.com/features/2000/03/07/index.html 
  9. Dr. Laura has a web page at http://www.drlaura.com You can join about 50,000 other North Americans in trying to phone her call-in radio program at: 1-800-DRLAURA, between 12 Noon and 3 PM Pacific time (3 to 6 PM Eastern time) weekdays. Her fax is at (818) 461-5140. She does not have Email. You can address a letter at: Dr. Laura Schlessinger, c/o Premiere Radio Networks, 15260 Ventura Blvd., Ste. 500, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
  10. "Statement by Dr. Laura Schlessinger," is available online on her web site at:  http://www.drlaura.com/monologue/index.html?mode=view&id=512
  11. Dave Clark, "Dr. Laura TV show planned," at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/A0011409.html
  12. "Canada sides with homosexuals against Dr. Laura," Conservative News Service, 2000-MAY-17. Available at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/00/20000517a.htm
  13. Dave Clark, "Dobson defends Dr. Laura," Family News in Focus, at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0011586.html 
  14. "Dr. Laura needs your support," at: http://www.family.org/cforum/feature/a0011526.html
  15. Don Hinkle, "Southern Baptists commend Laura Schlessinger for her opposition to homosexual lifestyle," SBC Newsroom, 2000-JUN-14, at:  http://www.sbcannualmeeting.org/sbc00/news.asp
  16. "Preacher, teacher, nag: Dr. Laura speaks," at: http://www.time.com/time/daily/0,2960,48069-101000625,00.html 
  17. Brian Lowry, "'Dr. Laura' halts TV production for one week," LA Times, at: http://www.calendarlive.com/tvent/20000921/t000089648.html
  18. "After two weeks, Doctor Laura TV production stalls," at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/00b/20000926a.htm 
  19. "'Dr. Laura's' Yom Kippur Apology," PlanetOut News & Politics, at: http://www.planetout.com/pno/news/ 
  20. Deborah Levinson, "Two apologies (one recanted) do not repentance make," at: http://www.rslevinson.com/gaylesissues/
  21. "Dr. Laura loses prime timeslots in half the nation's top 25 media markets," Gladd Lines, 2000-NOV-13, at: http://www.glaad.org/org/publications/lines/ 
  22. "Dr. Laura loses prime timeslots in half the nation's top 25 media markets," Gladd Lines, 2000-NOV-13, at: http://www.glaad.org/org/publications/lines/ 
  23. "Dr. Laura downgrades gain momentum," Gladd Laura Watch, 2000-DEC-1, at: http://www.glaad.org/org/publications/drlaura/
  24. "Dr. Laura TV Show Cancelled by Paramount: 'Victory!' Says StopDrLaura.com," GayWired.com at: http://www.gaywired.com/
  25. "Laura Schlessinger," Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/

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Copyright © 2000 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-MAR-14
Latest update: 2007-AUG-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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