KXRM Fox21 uncritically reported Pfaff's baseless suggestion that homosexuality is "changeable" behavior

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Reporting on a Colorado Senate measure that addresses discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation, KXRM Fox21 of Colorado Springs left unchallenged the comments of Jim Pfaff, president of Focus on the Family-backed Colorado Family Action, who baselessly suggested that sexual orientation is a chosen, "changeable" behavior.

A March 10 report by Colorado Springs Fox affiliate KXRM uncritically allowed Jim Pfaff, president of the Focus on the Family-backed lobbying organization Colorado Family Action, to baselessly suggest that sexual orientation is a chosen behavior for gay men and lesbians. In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) has stated conclusively that "human beings can not choose to be either gay or straight."

The report from KXRM's Fox21 News at Nine covered opposition to Colorado's Senate Bill 25, which, according to the report, would "end discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation." KXRM reporter Christina Salvo introduced Pfaff's comments by saying that "marriage is just one of the many components that make up a strong traditional family, which is why Family Action ... says despite passing Amendment 43 and defeating Referendum I, there is still more work to be done in order to protect the idea of a traditional family." Pfaff then characterized SB 25 as "an assault on the family" and later claimed that the bill "even within its language, lays out rights on perceived behavior. There's no need to protect that. Changeable characteristics were never intended to be protected in civil rights law."

Later in the report, Salvo uncritically reported Colorado Family Action's contention that "passing Bill 25 would actually create inequality because, as they say, sexuality is a changeable behavior, unlike skin color or gender -- things anti-discrimination laws are designed to protect against."

Contrary to Pfaff's assertions, the APA has stated in an online report, "Answers to Your Questions About Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality," that "human beings can not choose to be either gay or straight. Sexual orientation emerges for most people in early adolescence without any prior sexual experience." The APA further notes, "Although we can choose whether to act on our feelings, psychologists do not consider sexual orientation to be a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed."

Furthermore, a 2000 position statement from the American Psychiatric Association states:

Psychotherapeutic modalities to convert or "repair" homosexuality are based on developmental theories whose scientific validity is questionable. Furthermore, anecdotal reports of "cures" are counterbalanced by anecdotal claims of psychological harm. In the last four decades, "reparative" therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure. Until there is such research available, APA recommends that ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals' sexual orientation, keeping in mind the medical dictum to first, do no harm.

Though the Fox21 report included comments from Ryan Acker of the Pikes Peak Gay & Lesbian Center in support of the bill, Salvo did not offer a counter-position to Colorado Family Action's stance that "sexuality is a changeable behavior."

In addition, after Pfaff stated that "unless there's a voice there to stand for the family ... we're not going to get the kind of public policy we think is going to be good for the family," Salvo reported that Family Action hopes to influence Colorado politics "to ensure the family is not forgotten" -- creating the baseless implication that proponents of measures such as SB 25 have "forgotten" about the "family."

From the March 10 broadcast of KXRM's Fox21 News at Nine:

GRACE POLANSKI [anchor]: Well, the debate over the real definition of marriage continues long after voters spoke in the last election. A group called Colorado Family Action wants even more protection for the traditional idea of family. Fox21's Christina Salvo joins us now with what that exactly means. Christina.

[begin video clip]

SALVO: Grace, marriage is just one of the many components that make up a strong traditional family, which is why Family Action, an ally group to Focus on the Family, says despite passing Amendment 43 and defeating Referendum I, there is still more work to be done in order to protect the idea of a traditional family.

JIM PFAFF [Colorado Family Action]: There is an assault on the family. And we feel like unless there's a voice there to stand for the family and to help legislators who care about the family make good public policy decisions with good information -- unless that happens, we're not going to get the kind of public policy we think's going to be good for the family.

SALVO: So to ensure the family is not forgotten, Family Action hopes to infuse their influence into Colorado politics.

PFAFF: We're just moving on to the next phase. We've got an important legislative session that's taking place right now with some critical issues for the family.

SALVO: One of those issues, says Family Action, is Senate Bill 25, a bill that aims to end discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation.

PFAFF: Senate Bill 25, even within its language, lays out rights on perceived behavior. There's no need to protect that. Changeable characteristics were never intended to be protected in civil rights law.

SALVO: But with arguments such as this, some question whether Family Action is the voice they want state legislators listening to when it comes to family ideals. Since proponents of Bill 25 argue their opponents' stance not only undermines equality, but consequently harms families.

RYAN ACKER [Pikes Peak Gay & Lesbian Center]: Gay and lesbian people have parents. Gay and lesbian people have children. If someone loses their job for any other reason based on their qualifications, it sends a hardship to that person, to their family, and also to the entire community. Every human being needs to have access to a job to be able to pay their bills, to be able to live life.

SALVO: Pikes Peak Gay & Lesbian Center sees Bill 25 as a crucial bridge to end discrimination -- something they see as in line with family values.

But Family Action says passing Bill 25 would actually create inequality because, as they say, sexuality is a changeable behavior, unlike skin color or gender -- things anti-discrimination laws are designed to protect against. So putting sexuality on the same level sends the wrong message, says Family Action. So it seems like all debates, this one will continue until it's settled by a vote.

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