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Religious Tolerance logo

Dr. Laura Schlessinger and homosexuality:

Part 2:
Two typical reactions from pro-LGBT agencies.
Conflict between Dr. Laura and some in the LGBT
community as her TV program was being planned.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Two typical examples of negative reactions from pro-LGBT agencies:

  • One example was during the year 2000 when Stephen Spurgeon, Communications Director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), listed some concerns about Dr. Laura:

    "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." 1

  • Another was In 2008, when according to CNSNews.com -- a conservative Christian news agency -- Dr. Laura had described reaction by some members of the LGBT community to her discussions on human sexuality:

    "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." 2 

    Many web sites receive hate emails and the occasional death threat. This web site, ReligiousTolerance.org, receives many unsolicited comments each day. Positive reviews outnumber the negative ones by about 3.5 to 1. A small percentage of the latter threaten death, often in the most gruesome manner.

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Year 2000: A major conflict developed between the LGBT community and Dr. Laura as her TV show was being planned:

  • 2000-FEB: Dr. Schlessinger received a prestigious award from the National Religious Broadcasters. This is a media group of broadcasters who are predominately evangelical Christian.

  • 2000-FEB-14: Dr. Laura, Paramount TV Co-president Frank Kelly, and representatives from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (now referred to as "GLAAD") met to discuss Dr. Laura's TV show that was them being planned. 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.

  • 2000-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. Reparative therapy is a method of attempting to change an individual's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. It has had a success rate equal or close to zero. It often caused depression among clients when they failed to convert to heterosexuality. It is opposed by all of the main national national psychiatric and psychological professional associations.

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  • 2000-FEB-24: More than 1000 prominent clergy and dozens of leaders of medical, child-welfare and civil rights organizations signed a letter to Dr. Laura. It described some of their concerns:

    "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 beaten 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."

  • 2000-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.
     
  • 2000-MAR-10: Dr. Laura released an apology. She 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." 3

  • 2000-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." 

  • 2000-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." 

  • 2000-MAR-21: During the morning, the StopDrLaura.com & Horizons Foundation held a protest demonstration at the gates of Paramount Studios in Hollywood, CA.

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  • 2000-MAY-11: Focus on the Family, a Christian Fundamentalist organization reported that:
    • Station manager Jay Cashio of KING-TV in Seattle had 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."

    • "... former Seinfeld star, Julia Louis-Dreyfus ... recently contended that Schlessinger called homosexuals 'deviants.' Yet Dr. Schlessinger denies making any denigrating remarks toward homosexuals."

    • Ms. Schlessinger said during her appearance as a guest 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." 4

  • 2000-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." 5

  • 2000-MAY-26: Proctor & Gamble decided to not sponsor advertisements on Dr. Laura's TV show. Dr. James Dobson, founder and head of Focus on the Family -- a Fundamentalist Christian non-profit religious 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." 6

    Dr. Dobson recommended 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." 7

  • 2000-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.

  • 2000-JUN-14: Messengers -- the term used to describe delegates -- to the Southern Baptist Convention:

    "... overwhelmingly adopted a motion commending radio personality Laura Schlessinger for her staunch opposition to the homosexual lifestyle." 8

    This motion was one of only two (out of 26 proposed motions) that reached the floor for a vote. Wiley Drake of Buena Park, CA, introduced the successful motion. He said:

    "She knows where we stand as Christians and she takes a strong stand for the family."

    By "family" he apparently is referring only to those families led by opposite-sex couples.

    The original motion was amended to confine it to her views on homosexuality only. None of the messengers spoke in opposition to the motion.

  • 2000-JUN-25: During an interview with Time Magazine, Dr. Schlessinger appears to have made an effort to differentiate between a person with a homosexual or bisexual orientation and a gay, lesbian, or bisexual person who engages in same-gender sexual behavior:

    "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." 9

  • 2000-SEP-9: A three-day "Stop Dr. Laura National Days of Protest" started. It involved protests in 31 American cities.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Bill Berkowitz, "Dr. Laura's agenda: A missionary for the Christian Right," CultureWatch, at: http://www.tompaine.com/
  2. Lawrence Morahan, "Dr. Laura Receives Death Threats for Views on Homosexuality," CNSNews, 2008-JUL-07, at: http://cnsnews.com/
  3. "Statement by Dr. Laura Schlessinger," is available online on her web site at:  http://www.drlaura.com/
  4. Dave Clark, "Dr. Laura TV show planned," at: http://www.family.org/
  5. "Canada sides with homosexuals against Dr. Laura," Conservative News Service, 2000-MAY-17. Available at: http://www.mcjonline.com/
  6. Dave Clark, "Dobson defends Dr. Laura," Family News in Focus, at: http://www.family.org/ 
  7. "Dr. Laura needs your support," at: http://www.family.org/
  8. Don Hinkle, "Southern Baptists commend Laura Schlessinger for her opposition to homosexual lifestyle," SBC Newsroom, 2000-JUN-14, at:  http://www.sbcannualmeeting.org/
  9. "Preacher, teacher, nag: Dr. Laura speaks," at: http://www.time.com/

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Copyright © 2000 to 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-MAR-14
Latest update: 2015-APR-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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