- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2000

It comes as no surprise that Robert Knight, senior director of cultural studies at the Family Research Council (FRC), would once again use the pages of The Washington Times to attack the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for its criticism of Dr. Laura Schlessinger ("A one-way street for gay rights tolerance," Commentary, Feb. 28).

It is disturbing to see the FRC's constant attempts to label GLAAD a "censor," when a closer look at the facts reveals its own lack of disclosure in this situation. Clearly, FRC is concerned with protecting Dr. Laura's reputation and the reasons are obvious.

Since May 1999, FRC has reaped tremendous benefits from its association with Dr. Laura. She has endorsed it repeatedly on her radio program, reading its publications on the air and calling it a source for "factual information and intelligent points of view and intelligent arguments" on homosexuality. In turn, FRC has cited or mentioned Dr. Laura in no fewer than 25 of its publications since March 1999. FRC clearly understands Dr. Laura's value as a shill, as she both builds credibility for FRC in the minds of her audience and sends her listeners to an organization whose rhetoric is even more defamatory than her own. Yet you are not likely to hear any of this from either the FRC or Dr. Laura.

In fairness to your readers, let's look at the facts: 1) A review of GLAAD's work with Dr. Laura (easily found on our Web site at www.glaad.org) reveals that we have taken a thoughtful, measured approach to her anti-gay attitudes and commentary. 2) We took the high road on this: After a great deal of research, our executive director met twice with Dr. Laura, who was impervious to having any reasonable discussion about the issues; we implored lesbian and gay people to write to her and tell her their stories, and more than 1,000 letters (that we know of) were sent, though not one saw the light of day on her show; only then did we begin plans to meet with Paramount and consider further education and activist strategies. Well, I have a news flash for Mr. Knight: The people who hear Dr. Laura's diatribes are coming to the realization that her words have a real impact on listeners, one that is harmful. And they feel compelled to give voice to their concerns.

The American public conservatives included is learning the value of respecting diversity and promoting equality for all Americans. In that group I also would include the mainstream media, who are learning the truth about the "pseudoscience" of reparative therapy and the actual credentials of "Dr. Laura."

CATHY RENNA

Director of Regional Media

and Community Relations

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

Washington

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