WaPo Celebrates National Coming Out Day With Controversial Opinion Piece

Okay, so National Coming-Out Day isn’t a national holiday or even a Hallmark Holiday.  But for some in the LGBT community, it is a symbolically-significant day that encourages people to be out and proud.  The Washington Post’s On Faith section appeared to know that, featuring a nice piece by members of Equally Blessed.

But all of that good was undone by another piece by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins titled Christian compassion requires the truth about harms of homosexuality. The editorial lays blame with LGBT activist groups–including the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network of exploiting the situation and blaming Christians.

There is an abundance of evidence that homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems in general, including depression. However, there is no empirical evidence to link this with society’s general disapproval of homosexual conduct. In fact, evidence from the Netherlands would seem to suggest the opposite, because even in that most “gay-friendly” country on earth, research has shown homosexuals to have much higher mental health problems.

Within the homosexual population, such mental health problems are higher among those who “come out of the closet” at an earlier age. Yet GLSEN’s approach is to encourage teens to “come out” when younger and younger–thus likely exacerbating the very problem they claim they want to solve.

Some homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal–yet they have been told by the homosexual movement, and their allies in the media and the educational establishment, that they are “born gay” and can never change. This–and not society’s disapproval–may create a sense of despair that can lead to suicide.

The most important thing that Christians can offer to homosexuals is hope–hope that their sins, just like the sins of anyone else, can be forgiven and their lives transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ command to love our neighbor clearly embraces the homosexual as well. But love does not require affirming every behavior in which an individual engages. For a parent to encourage a child to indulge their every desire would not be love, but its very opposite. The same is true of self-destructive behaviors in which adults may engage–whether it is the excessive use of alcohol, drugs, reckless driving, or heterosexual activity outside of marriage.

The decision to give space to Perkins, whose organization is a chief lobbying group that opposes most LGBT rights, has been roundly criticized, including  Media Matters. Here’s a comment from the blog Good as You.

There’s absolutely no reason why Tony should be allowed such an open forum. NONE. The gig is not based on merit, but rather because we still live in a skewed world where (a) LGBT people are the one kind of vulnerable population sect whose lives remain subjected to back-and-forth public debate, (b) anti-LGBT discrimination is still passed off as a “family value”, (c) anti-LGBT groups like the Family Research Council are able to maintain a place in conservative politics by virtue of their connections and financing, and (d) these same groups are given platforms in the name of “objectivity” and journalistic “fairness.” It doesn’t happen to any other kind of people. Anti-science about ethnic or religious minorities is not typically printed. Yet even the most disproven of anti-gay/pro”ex-gay” claims gets ink. Even the most basic of civil rights is presented as controversial. Even the most obvious of anti-gay responsibilities is passed off as an unknown.

So what to make of it all. This isn’t the first time that the joint effort by WaPo and Newsweek has been criticizedfor how it deals with gay issues. And there are times, including a series running concurrently at On Faith, that is very pro-gay to the point of being unbalanced in the other direction.

It sometimes seems no one is really in charge at On Faith and that they just run whatever opinion piece comes over the transom. While there are journalistic arguments to be made for including the Perkins piece, using as an apparent bid for balance on the same day it runs a piece on National Coming-Out Day just seems bizarre. It’s also hard to imagine the WaPo would insist on this kind of opinion balance when dealing with other groups.

6 Responses

  1. It’s a rotten shame that we have to see a diatribe about how abnormal we are juxtaposed with a peaceful, sweet rendering of just how important coming out is for so many of us who are LGBT. What could the Post be thinking of to run the counter-editorial view, particularly when it’s so far off the track.

    It’s shameful.

  2. The Washington Post’s featuring an op-ed by Tony Perkins is outrageous. But I am very concerned that a gay journalist would think that the discussion of religious attitudes toward homosexuality is “pro-gay to the point of being unbalanced in the other direction.” I don’t even know what that means. In fact, I find it hard to conceive. Can you explain? Or should we just assume that you think for every pro-gay statement, one needs an anti-gay statement? Do you think that’s true for other minorities? Whenever one says something that seems favorable to Jews, should one have something anti-semitic just to balance things out?

    • I think the other discussion fails to include the broad span of views about how religion views homosexuality and gays. The God and gays section contains few voices that are skeptical or critical, which means that it is unbalanced. A religion section can’t pretend that everyone is pro-gray and it can provide those viewpoints without going as far as giving a platform to Perkins.

  3. I suppose you think the next time they do a feature on Elie Weisel, they should include the viewpoint of a Holocaust-denier. After all, it would be wrong to pretend that there are no Holocaust deniers. Or is it just that gay people are somehow in a special category? Is it that we are so controversial that our enemies must be featured in any story about us?

    • On Faith is a religion section. There is vast disagreement among believers of all faiths over homosexuality and gay issues. So I would expect that a religion section is going to reflect those disagreements, which can be done without running inflammatory or extreme positions.

      • Not every position needs to be cited in every article. Moreover, part of the problem is that discussions of religion tend to neutralize and soften positions. I find it interesting that “mainstream” religions distance themselves from Westboro Baptist Church, when in fact their doctrinal positions (as opposed to their confrontational tactics) do not differ an iota from that of the Southern Baptist Convention. I don’t want anti-gay positions to be cosmetically softened to appear acceptable. But I do not see how a feature highlighting religious support for gay people needs to be “balanced” by anti-gay positions just because they are out there. Holocaust-deniers are out there too. Again, I think you put an extra burden on gay people. Very disappointing coming from a member of nlgja. We don’t need enemies in the press room; we damage ourselves quite enough.

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