GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore suggested 9/11 was punishment for “legitimized sodomy,” but top media outlets just call him a “firebrand”

Moore has called homosexuality “the same thing” as having sex with a cow, repeatedly asserted that “homosexual conduct should be illegal,” and was kicked off Alabama’s Supreme Court for discriminating against same-sex couples

On September 26, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who has compared homosexuality to having sex with a cow and insists that “homosexual conduct should be illegal,” won his state’s Republican primary for its open Senate seat. Many media outlets failed to contextualize his extreme anti-LGBTQ views -- though most noted his infamous removal from Alabama’s Supreme Court for refusing to accept the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing same-sex marriage -- and instead whitewashed him as simply a “firebrand.”

Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

Anti-LGBTQ extremist Roy Moore, who insisted that “homosexual conduct should be illegal,” wins Alabama Senate primary

Roy Moore won Alabama’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. The Washington Post reported that the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice “took nearly 55 percent of the vote” in the September 26 Republican primary election for a Senate seat representing the Southern state. [The Washington Post, 9/27/17]

LGBTQ Nation and GLAAD highlight extreme anti-LGBTQ rhetoric of Moore, “America’s most antigay politician.” In a post titled “America’s most antigay politician won his election & here’s why it should chill you,” LGBTQ Nation’s Bill Browning reported that if the Alabama Senate candidate wins the state’s December election, “he will become America’s most anti-LGBT national politician.” Browning noted Moore’s two removals from office as the chief justice of Alabama Supreme Court, including when he lost his position “for instructing local officials to ignore the US Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.” The post highlighted research by LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD, which included numerous examples of Moore’s extremist rhetoric. According to GLAAD, Moore has “said homosexuality is ‘the same thing’ as having sex with a cow” and has repeatedly insisted that “homosexual conduct should be illegal.” Moore has even “suggested that 9/11 was God’s punishment for things like ‘legitimized sodomy.’” From the piece (time stamps removed):

  • Said homosexuality is “the same thing” as having sex with a cow .

  • Insisted that “homosexual conduct should be illegal” in a 2005 interview; and again in 2015.

  • Wrote into a 2002 opinion his belief that homosexuality is “a criminal lifestyle,” an “inherent evil against which children must be protected,” and an “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God upon which this Nation and our laws are predicated.”

  • Attacked courts that allowed putting “a lesbian as a husband,” saying “science dictates that a man can’t be a woman, and a woman can’t be a man. You can dress like them, you can use hormones, you can change your body, you can think—but you can’t produce and egg or a sperm unless you are a woman or a man…so now we have judges that are ruling against science.”

  • Targeted the transgender community: “We do have a right to tell them what their sin is. We do have a right to say this is wrong. This is deteriorating this country. Now we have a right to think we’re the opposite sex if we want to be. Your mamas and daddies didn’t think that. Nobody in here had a mama or daddy who thought that. You’re seeing little bitty kids now, it’s the latest thing. You know, a nation that turns away from God and his law suffers the consequences.”

  • Referred to gay people as “Those who practice an immoral act that less than 40 years ago was not to be mentioned in polite public circles,” and insists that “For the sake of our nation’s survival, it is time to voice our strongest opposition to homosexual conduct because morality still matters, not only in the military, but also in society at large.”

  • Insisted that “sodomy was deemed an abomination by the Creator” and that “Same-sex marriage and sodomy are, simply stated, a slippery slope to polygamy and incestuous relationships.”

  • Said LGBTQ people “flaunt their perversion in public parades, ‘gay’ television shows and Hollywood movies.”

  • Compared Dred Scott and Obergefell opinions, arguing that the latter marriage ruling is “even worse in a sense” than the one upholding slavery because of marriage equality’s supposed ramifications on Christians.

  • Suggested that Congress should impeach SCOTUS justices who decided in favor of marriage equality.

  • Suggested that 9/11 was God’s punishment for things like “legitimized sodomy.”

  • Filed an amicus brief arguing at length that “homosexual conduct has always been and continues to be immoral and should not be protected or sanctioned by law.”

  • Filed amicus brief arguing “the presence of homosexuals in the armed forces will weaken the armed forces’ ability to defend this nation by admitting into the armed forces people who engage in conduct that is both immoral and unhealthy, and that the armed forces budget and resources will be strained by having to pay for and treat the many unhealthy conditions that arise out of the homosexual lifestyle.[”]

  • Wrote letter to Alabama’s governor condemning the 2003 repeal of criminal sodomy laws and all that followed after.

  • Compared marriage equality to counterfeit money.

  • Argued that marriage equality would “literally cause the destruction of our country.”

  • Said marriage equality means “we no longer have a constitution.”

  • Sought a convention of states to ban marriage equality. [LGBTQ Nation, 9/27/17]

Media outlets’ headlines and push notifications refer to Moore as a “firebrand” and “brash conservative”

NY Times push notification called Moore “an evangelical firebrand.”

Wash. Post push notification called Moore an “Alabama firebrand.”

AP headline called Moore a “firebrand jurist.”

[The Associated Press, 9/26/17]

Reuters headline called Moore a “conservative firebrand.”

[Reuters, 9/26/17]

LA Times headline called Moore a “brash conservative.”

[Los Angeles Times, 9/26/17]

Multiple news reports leave out crucial details about Moore's anti-LGBTQ extremism

NY Times report’s only mention of Moore’s anti-LGBTQ extremism was that he is “given to provocative remarks on same-sex marriage and race” and that he defied the same-sex marriage ruling. The New York Times’ report on Moore’s primary win noted his “provocative remarks on same-sex marriage and race ... at a time when many Republicans would just as soon move on from the debate over gay rights.” The Times also mentioned his removal from Alabama’s Supreme Court for urging “the state’s probate judges to defy federal orders regarding same-sex marriage.” The Times, which called Moore a “firebrand” in this report, failed to mention any examples of Moore’s extremist rhetoric. In a separate post, the Times reprinted an Associated Press story giving more context on Moore’s extremism, noting that he called homosexuality an “inherent evil.” [The New York Times, 9/26/17, 9/27/17]

LA Times report’s only mention of Moore’s anti-LGBTQ past was that he was “stripped of his court seat … for refusing to adhere to court decisions allowing gay marriage.” The Los Angeles Times’ report on Moore’s win failed to mention any of his anti-LGBTQ extremism aside from noting that he was “stripped of his court seat twice,” including “for refusing to adhere to court decisions allowing gay marriage.” The Times did note that he had recently referred to “Asian and Native Americans as ‘yellows’ and ‘reds,’ in keeping with years of controversial statements.” The paper, however, reprinted the AP’s piece noting that Moore called homosexuality an “inherent evil.” [Los Angeles Times, 9/26/17, 9/27/17]

Reuters report notes only that Moore lost his seat on Alabama Supreme Court “for defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.” Reuters’ report on Moore’s win, which called him a “conservative firebrand,” failed to mention any of his extremism and instead focused on “rifts between the Republican party’s conservative base and its moneyed establishment.” The report’s only mention of Moore’s anti-LGBTQ actions was a note that he “lost his seat on the Alabama Supreme Court” for “defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.” [Reuters, 9/26/17]

AP report’s only example of Moore’s anti-LGBTQ record is noting his removal from Alabama Supreme Court for “taking stands … against gay marriage.” The Associated Press’ own report on Moore’s win mentioned that Moore had been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court “after taking stands … against gay marriage” and said he “was permanently suspended after a disciplinary panel ruled he had urged probate judges to defy federal court decisions on gay marriage and deny wedding licenses to same-sex couples.” But it failed to note Moore’s other anti-LGBTQ extremism. In a separate and widely circulated piece, however, the AP noted that Moore called homosexuality an “inherent evil.” [The Associated Press, 9/27/17, 9/27/17]