- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 1, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO

A homosexual-rights foundation has launched a national campaign to get conservative talk-radio personality Laura Schlessinger to tone down her attacks on homosexuals.

Advertisements published in several newspapers last week said Mrs. Schlessinger's use of such words as "deviant" and "a biological error" is based on outdated, discredited theories and is doing "real harm to real people."

A public letter went out Thursday appealing to Mrs. Schlessinger to follow the example set by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, the conservative Christian who renounced statements that might incite hatred of homosexuals. Acknowledging Mrs. Schlessinger's right to express her views, the letter said, "We are simply saying this: Young people who are otherwise happy and healthy are being taught to hate themselves simply because they are gay."

The ads and letter, organized by the San Francisco-based Horizons Foundation, the nation's first homosexual foundation, were signed by more than 180 child-welfare organizations, health and medical associations, civil rights and civil liberties groups, rabbis and other religious leaders, as well as advocates for homosexual rights.

"Our concern is that Dr. Laura is reaching 20 million people a day, day in, day out, with the message that gays and lesbians are deviant, that we are biological errors, that we can and should be cured," said Peter Teague, the executive director of Horizons.

"Our concern is that Dr. Schlessinger is known as 'Dr. Laura' among her audience of 20 million although she does not have a medical degree.

"She issues an invitation to think of gays and lesbians as inferior, as less than human. As an adult I can decline that invitation; kids can't," Mr. Teague said. "Statistics speak for themselves about the impact those words have. It's extraordinary."

When alerted to the campaign by calls from reporters, Mrs. Schlessinger, 53, immediately went on the offensive.

"Unless I have hallucinated, I have never made an anti-gay commentary," she said on her show. "I have made anti-gay-activist-agenda commentaries."

Calling the campaign the "worst kind of intellectual dishonesty," she said the coalition was trying to "demonize me in an effort to help their political campaign against" the anti-homosexual-marriage initiative that is to appear on California's ballot Tuesday.

Last month, she told the Advocate, a newsmagazine for homosexuals, that her message about homosexuality had grown sterner since she went on the air in 1996 as a result of her deepening Orthodox Jewish faith and the "rise of the radical gay and lesbian agenda."

Her warnings against homosexual parenting and same-sex "marriage" and her advocacy of efforts to "cure" homosexuals fit into her sharp moral commentary on life. She also rails against unmarried couples living together.

Mrs. Schlessinger's radio show, broadcast from Premiere Radio Networks in Los Angeles County, airs on 500 stations in the United States and Canada and attracts more listeners than conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh or shock jock Howard Stern. She is also the author of best-selling advice books and a syndicated newspaper column. She is scheduled to launch a daytime television talk show later this year.

The Horizons Foundation also points out that Mrs. Schlessinger earned a doctorate in physiology, and that she is not a psychologist.

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