The Washington Times' history of anti-gay rhetoric

The Washington Times' anti-gay onslaught against Department of Education official Kevin Jennings -- which has featured anti-gay rhetoric, falsehoods, and distortions -- is only the most recent offense in the newspaper's long history of publishing anti-gay rhetoric and smears. Media Matters for America has compiled an extensive -- though by no means all-inclusive -- list of such rhetoric since the late 1980s, including the paper's warnings against the “gay agenda,” attacks on the possibility of gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, minimizing of the AIDS epidemic, and attacks on gay relationships and gay rights.

Wash. Times on the “gay agenda”

Wash. Times warned of a possible gay “assault upon traditional norms and values.” A July 25, 2001, Times editorial discussed whether there “is such a thing as the 'gay agenda' ”:

Is there such a thing as the "gay agenda"? In other words, are efforts to enact various laws, such as those forbidding “discrimination” against homosexuals and allowing gay “marriage” simply the leading edge of an ever-broadening assault upon traditional norms and values, as conservatives have argued for years? Here's a test case to help you decide.

In Sacramento, Calif., state legislators are poised to pass a bill that would prohibit bias against -- and here we quote the report of this newspaper's Thomas D. Elias -- “Transsexuals, drag queens, effeminate men, 'butch' women and anyone else who doesn't manifest common sex traits and behavior.” The bill has already passed the state Assembly and prospects appear good for eventual passage in the state Senate. Its chief sponsor, Democratic Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, says her measure merely “adds gender-appearance discrimination to sex discrimination in the state's Fair Employment and Housing Act.” Her bill would require, among other things, that workers notify their employers of their sexual identity -- or pending “change” -- before making any claims of sex-gender-appearance discrimination.


You'll have to decide for yourself whether that comprises an “agenda” or not. [The Washington Times, 7/25/01, retrieved from the Nexis database]

Wash. Times lauded Boy Scouts of America for refusal “to bend to passing fancy, i.e. the embrace of open homosexuality.” In a June 17, 2001 editorial, the Times condemned the backlash the Boy Scouts of America received due to the lawsuit that James Dale brought against the organization; Dale had been rejected for an adult leadership position and fired from his position as an assistant Scoutmaster after Boy Scouts of America learned that he was gay. The Times also praised the organization for refusing to “bend to passing fancy, i.e. the embrace of open homosexuality” and defended its decision to “refus[e] to permit an openly homosexual young man to continue in his capacity as a leader/role model for young boys”:

The Boy Scouts have stubbornly refused to bend to passing fancy, i.e. the embrace of open homosexuality. For this, they have been viciously attacked by the forces of political correctness, branded as homophobes and bigots. They have been barred from the public school facilities they depend upon for venues to hold their monthly meetings. They have been forbidden from using public facilities -- or denied the use of facilities, such as campgrounds, that were formerly made available to them at no cost.

All of this because the Scout Law and Scout Oath represent the moral code and value system of a dying era -- one in which those things we might subsume under the term, “family values” have become inappropriate, in bad taste, even. And more precisely, because the organization refused to permit an openly homosexual young man to continue in his capacity as a leader/role model for young boys. Twenty years ago, such a decision would not have raised an eyebrow; today it is the emblem of hateful discrimination.


Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott summed it up best when he said, 'I don't know quite how to react to the fact that in America now, even the Boy Scouts seem to be under attack ... are motherhood and apple pie next? Is nothing sacred anymore?'"

Unfortunately, the answer to that question appears to be that no, nothing is sacred anymore -- beyond blind adherence to whatever voguish notion the radical left decides to be the order of the day. All else is to be swept away, including an organization whose old-fashioned ideas of moral certainty no longer fit the times. [The Washington Times, 6/17/01, from Nexis]

Wash. Times praised Boy Scouts as “one of the last remaining bastions of American culture that has not bowed to the gay agenda.” In a June 30, 2000, editorial, the Times applauded the Boy Scouts of America for being “one of the last remaining bastions of American culture that has not bowed to the gay agenda”:

Wednesday, the Supreme Court rejected the idea, which had been upheld by the New Jersey Supreme Court, that the Boy Scouts had no fundamental right to exclude would-be members who do not subscribe to or conform with the organization's most basic tenets. In this particular instance, the Boy Scouts withdrew the membership of former Assistant Scoutmaster James Dale, an adult volunteer, after learning of his homosexual lifestyle. This, of course, put the Boy Scouts in the gunsights as one of the last remaining bastions of American culture that has not bowed to the gay agenda -- which demands not merely live-and-let live tolerance, but total acceptance -- indeed, emphatic endorsement. [The Washington Times, 6/30/00, from Nexis]

Robert Stacy McCain blamed coverage “disparity” between boy killed by gay men, Shepard's murder on “large number of open homosexuals” in the media. In a front-page March 23, 2001, article, Robert Stacy McCain -- the paper's assistant national editor -- reported that while “the 1998 death of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming provoked a blizzard of media coverage about the death of the homosexual college student," the 1999 death of Jesse Dirkhising, a 13-year-old Arkansas boy killed by two gay men, “is just 'a local crime story,' one TV network spokesman explains.” McCain blamed the “disparity in reporting on the two murders” in part on “the large number of open homosexuals employed by major media outlets" and the efforts by "[p]owerful lobbying organizations like the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation" to “shape media portrayals of homosexuality.” [The Washington Times, 3/23/01, from Nexis]

Times declared war on gay men and lesbians in the military

Wash. Times claimed promoters of purported “gay agenda” were using military issue to force “public support of the gay lifestyle.” In a March 21, 1993, editorial, the Times argued that calls to drop the ban on gay men and lesbians in the military were just a ploy to force the public to support the “gay lifestyle”: “Third, military service is not the real gay agenda. The real agenda is to use the military as a steppingstone to forced public support of the gay lifestyle. Experts agree that at least some homosexual conduct is learned. U.S. tax money should not sanction that learning process.” [The Washington Times, 3/21/93, from Nexis]

Editor-in-chief Pruden unleashed wave of anti-gay attacks after U.K. allowed gay men and lesbians to serve openly. After the United Kingdom lifted its ban on gay men and lesbians serving in the military in response to a European court ruling, then-editor-in-chief Wesley Pruden used his January 14, 2000, column to unleash a barrage of anti-gay attacks, including:

  • The European Union “wants to make the barracks safe for sodomy.” Pruden wrote: “The European Union, wiping away all vestiges of 'discrimination,' wants to make the barracks safe for sodomy. Britain, 'the sceptr'd isle' that has been home for centuries to a race of kings, submitted to the Europeans this week and agreed to open the barracks to men and women, gays and lesbians, known and unknown. Maybe even queens and cross-dressers, given the English taste for the royally erotic. Rule, Britannia.” [The Washington Times, 1/14/00, from Nexis]
  • Banning gay men and lesbians from military prevents violence against “a randy gay caballero [who] starts making eyes at a straight.” Pruden wrote: “Soldiers are by definition a bit rough, if not coarse, and not always just around the edges. An instinct for violence is refined in an army, and prized as an attribute to be shaped to positive ends. ... Only someone who has never been in a barracks is unable to imagine what will happen when a randy gay caballero starts making eyes at a straight who is making eyes at that cute little gruntess in the next bunk.” [The Washington Times, 1/14/00, from Nexis]
  • Allowing gay men and lesbians to serve in the military would “render it unoperable for the convenience of puffs and poofs.” Pruden wrote: “The feminist and homosexual advocates of dismantling the American military, eager to render it inoperable for the convenience of puffs and poofs, will no doubt cite the European rulings as needed guidance for the Pentagon. The New York Times, no friend of a rough, tough military, observes that the latest ruling 'brings Britain into line with almost all other NATO nations, including France, Canada and Germany,' and adds primly: 'The United States, with its 'don't ask, don't tell' policy, is at variance with that trend.' ” [The Washington Times, 1/14/00, from Nexis]
  • “A little gay spooning after 'lights out' isn't likely to hurt troops nobody counts on.” Pruden wrote: “What most of us are too diplomatic, too polite, just too darn nice to say, is that except for the English it probably doesn't matter very much. From the record in World War II, the last real test of military prowess for the Europeans, we can reasonably conclude that European women may be better fighters than European men, anyway. A little gay spooning after 'lights out' isn't likely to hurt troops nobody counts on.” [The Washington Times, 1/14/00, from Nexis]

Pruden: Gay rights activist warned Clinton “if he insists on backing down on his promise to put a little gaiety in the barracks they'll hit him with their purses.” In his June 25, 1993, column, Pruden commented on President Bill Clinton's attempt to repeal the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military: “One of Mr. Clinton's own best friends, David Mixner, a White House aide and a member of a group called Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality, warned the president yesterday that if he insists on backing down on his promise to put a little gaiety in the barracks they'll hit him with their purses.” [The Washington Times, 6/25/93, from Nexis]

Times mocks gay rights activists, minimizes AIDS epidemic, seeks to discredit gay relationships

Wash. Times falsely suggested children raised by two heterosexual parents “perform better” than those raise by gay or lesbian parents. In an October 28 editorial, the Times claimed that "kids perform better" in two-parent heterosexual homes. In fact, experts say children raised by gay or lesbian parents suffer no adverse effects in their psychosocial development.

Times used scare quotes around words “partner” and “marriage” for gay men and lesbians. The Times reportedly banned the practice of using what The Washington City Paper described as "scare quotes" around “gay marriage” in its news pages shortly after the hiring of Times editor-in-chief John Solomon. In a February 25, 2008, memo, copy desk chief Patrick Tuohy reportedly stated that "[t]he quotation marks will come off gay marriage (preferred over homosexual marriage)." Examples of the Times previously using scare quotes before the change in policy include:

  • From an August 30, 2004, news article: “Same-sex 'marriages' are recognized in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Tens of thousands of same-sex couples, including some from the United States and other countries, have been declared 'married' in those provinces. Polls show that Canadians support the legalization of same-sex 'marriage.' A survey last year by the Environics Research Group found that 56 percent supported the practice, while 42 percent were opposed and 3 percent were undecided. Support for same-sex 'marriage' in Canada tends to be strongest among women and those under 45.” [The Washington Times, 8/30/04]
  • From a September 22, 2003, news article: “Republicans are prepared to oppose homosexual 'marriage' in their national platform, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said yesterday. ... Proponents say same-sex 'marriage,' rather than civil unions, is necessary to assure all the benefits, including Social Security for survivors, afforded to heterosexual married couples.” [The Washington Times, 9/22/03]

In its October 22 editorial attacking Jennings, the Times similarly used scare quotes around the word “partner,” writing: “Jeff Davis, Mr. Jennings 'partner” of 15 years, described their first meetings."

Rep. Trent Franks in op-ed: “the radical gay agenda's special rights" aren't the “same civil rights” of Lincoln, King. On September 15, 2005, the Times published an op-ed by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) in which Franks contrasted gay civil rights with other civil rights movements: “These liberals are also very fond of accusing [then-Supreme Court nominee] Judge [John] Roberts of opposing civil rights. When liberal extremists say 'civil rights,' they do not mean the same civil rights that Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. fought and died for. What they are trying to foist upon the American people is unconstitutional racial quotas and the radical gay agenda's special rights. This is again an effort at social engineering to force their extremist agenda upon the people of America -- against their will." [The Washington Times, 9/15/05]

Wash. Times repeatedly called gay rights activists “the lavender lobby.” In several editorials, the Times referred to gay rights activists as “the lavender lobby.” For example:

  • “Gays are particularly conflicted. On the one hand, the lavender lobby works hard to persuade the public that there's nothing shameful about homosexuality.” [The Washington Times, 8/31/07]
  • “Hollywood is watching 'Brokeback Mountain,' about a couple of cowboys in hot pursuit of sodomy in Wyoming, to see whether it's the 'breakthrough' to a vast new audience that can be exploited with a rash of movies pandering to the lavender lobby.” [The Washington Times, 12/29/05]
  • “The gay caballeros down South are grousing that Mr. Parrish's defense strategy makes it open season on all those of alternative lifestyles. As usual with exponents of more rights for me and fewer for you, the lavender lobby wants the federal leviathan to march in pronto.” [The Washington Times, 12/13/94, from Nexis]

Pruden's anti-gay rhetoric on AIDS

Pruden falsely suggested AIDS hasn't killed “millions,” consistently downplays HIV/AIDS. In a June 17, 2008, Washington Times column, Pruden asserted of the AIDS virus: “We were all supposed to be dead now, done in by AIDS, the gift of the gays,” and subsequently downplayed the number of deaths attributable to AIDS. Contrary to his suggestion, AIDS has in fact killed millions. In his Washington Times columns stretching back at least to 1989, Pruden has repeatedly downplayed the impact of HIV/AIDS. For instance, he asserted in a 2005 column that “after all these years AIDS remains a disease almost altogether of homosexuals and drug addicts and the unfortunate women who hang out with them.” [The Washington Times, 2/22/05, from Nexis]

Pruden: Federal lawyers “could argue” that “sodomy in the age of AIDS is a worldwide health hazard.” In his December 10, 2002, column, Pruden wrote: “The Supreme court's new sodomy case revists settled law that the state has a legitimate interest in prohibiting unnatural sexual relations. The government's lawyers could argue, but probably won't that sodomy is a public-health issue, as sodomy in the age of AIDS is a worldwide health hazard, like smoking [but unlike smoking, highly contagious]. ... The government might lose this time; the Supreme Court could reason that government snoops have no place in anybody's bedroom, homo- or hetero-.” [The Washington Times, 12/10/02, from Nexis]

The Times' anti-gay war on Kevin Jennings

The Washington Times is waging an anti-gay war on Jennings, including penning eight editorials since late September specifically aimed at smearing him. These editorials have used anti-gay rhetoric, falsehoods, and distortions to attack Jennings, including accusing him of “promoting homosexuality in schools” and falsely suggesting he “encouraged” the “statutory rape” of a “15-year-old high school sophomore.”