CNN invited Family Research Council (FRC) Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg - who has previously advocated the criminalization of homosexuality and deportation of gay people from the United States - to condemn the recent withdrawal of an anti-gay pastor from President Obama's second inauguration.
During the January 11 edition of CNN Newsroom, host Carol Costello invited Sprigg and Truth Wins Out director Wayne Besen to discuss Georgia pastor Louie Giglio's decision to withdraw from performing the benediction at Obama's inauguration.
Giglio announced his withdrawal after ThinkProgress revealed that he had given a "vehemently anti-gay" sermon in the mid-1990s during which he condemned the "homosexual lifestyle," claimed gay people would go to hell, and claimed that gay people could become straight through the power of Christ.
Sprigg, whose organization has been labeled an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for spreading known falsehoods about LGBT people, attempted to downplay Giglio's comments, accusing gay activists of pursuing "intolerance in the name of tolerance":
SPRIGG: The world we live in, unfortunately, is increasingly marked by the enforcement of intolerance in the name of tolerance, exclusion in the name of inclusion, and forced uniformity in the name of diversity. It's contradictory, it's downright Orwellian, and yet people actually make these statements, unbelievably, with a straight face.
Besen responded by pointing out that Sprigg has previously called for the criminalization for homosexuality and advocated for exporting gay people from the United States, a point that Costello confirmed:
BESEN: Peter, I find it ironic that you're embracing diversity. I mean you called for the imprisonment of gay people and said we should export homosexuals out of the United States and suddenly you're for tolerance? I'm a little confused here.
SPRIGG: [laughing] Well this is about Pastor Giglio and President Obama, it's not about me.
BESEN: No, I just find it ironic that you're a spokesperson for tolerance.
COSTELLO: But Wayne is right, Peter. Wayne is right about that, Peter.
Sprigg's history of inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric goes even further, endorsing "ex-gay" therapy and claiming that gay people are mentally ill. According to a recent SPLC report:
Sprigg authored a 2010 brochure touting "The Top Ten Myths about Homosexuality." In the brochure, Sprigg claimed that ex-gay therapy works, that sexual orientation can change, that gay people are mentally ill simply because homosexuality makes them that way, and that, "Sexual abuse of boys by adult men is many times more common than consensual sex between adult men, and most of those engaging in such molestation identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual." He also claimed that "homosexuals are less likely to enter into a committed relationship" and "less likely to be sexually faithful to a partner." Sprigg's sources are a mixture of junk science issued by groups that support ex-gay therapy and legitimate science quoted out of context or cherry-picked, a tactic long used by anti-gay groups to bolster their claims about gay people. [emphasis added]
It's not surprising, then, that Sprigg falsely claimed that the majority of Americans find homosexuality to be immoral. Pastor Giglio's anti-gay remarks may seem tame to someone like Sprigg, but they're far out of line with the American public's growing acceptance of LGBT equality.
From the July 15 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Family Research Council senior fellow Peter Sprigg was on CNN last night -- and quoted in yesterday's Washington Post -- opposing equal rights for gays. Neither news organization adequately explained who Sprigg is, perhaps because doing so would raise serious questions about why it granted him a platform.
Peter Sprigg wants "gay behavior" outlawed and has said he would "much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society." Sprigg's comments played a role in the Southern Poverty Law Center's decision to identify FRC as a "hate group." (Sprigg subsequently apologized for the comment about exporting gays, saying he was guilty of "speaking in a way that did not reflect the standards which the Family Research Council and I embrace" -- but he did not retract the substance of the comment.) The fact that Sprigg is so intolerant of gays is crucial to interpreting his comments on gay rights -- but neither CNN nor the Post offered a hint of the extremity of Sprigg's views.
That's nothing new at the Post, which has previously gone so far as to give Sprigg an unmoderated online Q&A session with its readers. And CNN has frequently hosted Sprigg and quoted him in news reports, presenting him to its audience as an expert on everything from parenting to (completely fictitious) attempts to prevent the celebration of Christmas to military readiness. (Dan Savage has previously criticized CNN for providing a forum for gay-bashers.)
It's hard to imagine CNN or the Washington Post treating, say, David Duke this way. And yet they frequently feature Peter Sprigg as though he's a legitimate, mainstream figure -- and they do so while withholding from their audience information that would make clear that he is not.
The obvious implication of all this is that CNN and the Washington Post are far more comfortable with homophobia than they are with racism or anti-Semitism. I just wish they'd come out and say it.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins recently suggested that gay youths who committed suicide after being bullied were actually responding to their "despair" after being told by gay-rights groups that "they are 'born gay' and can never change." The FRC has long sought to minimize anti-gay bullying and attacked those who seek to stop it.
Earlier this month, I noted the massive ideological disparity in WashingtonPost.com online Q&As over the previous three months -- the Post hosted nine conservatives and only two liberals during that time.
On Friday, the Post added another conservative to the list -- Family Research Council senior fellow Peter Sprigg, who discussed his opposition to President Obama's extension of hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners. The Post also hosted a Q&A with a Human Rights Campaign staffer who supported the decision, an all-too-rare attempt at balance from the Post.
But the Post's decision to host Sprigg is alarming nonetheless. See, Peter Sprigg says "gay behavior" should be outlawed. And Sprigg has said "I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society."
It seems safe to assume the Washington Post would not provide a forum to someone who says the practice of Judaism should be outlawed, or that he would prefer to "export blacks from the United States." So why does the Post host anti-gay bigot Peter Sprigg?