Gay activists and bloggers are outraged
over a CNN segment about a California lawmaker's attempt to repeal a
law that mandates research into altering the sexual orientation of
gay men and lesbians.
CNN host Kyra Phillips begins the
segment with: “Homosexuality, is it a problem in need of a cure?”
Producers pitted California
Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, the sponsor of the repeal measure,
against Richard Cohen, a leader of the ex-gay movement.
Supporters of an anti-gay bill that
prescribes death for repeat offenders currently being debated in the
Uganda Parliament have praised Cohen's book Coming Out Straight
as the inspiration behind the bill.
& Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) took offense to
CNN's inclusion of Cohen as an authority on the subject.
“The airtime afforded the
disreputable Cohen to tout 'healing' gay people,” the group said.
CNN introduced Cohen as a
“Psychotherapist, educator and expert in the field of sexual
Cohen himself admits that he's not a
“No, I'm not,” Cohen answered
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow in December when she asked: “Are you a
“I have practiced psychotherapy under
the requirements of every state that I've practiced in and resided in
over the last 20 years,” Cohen said. “And I have helped
thousands of men and women come out of homosexuality.”
“I am a professional psychotherapist,
Rachel, and my credentials are that I came out of homosexuality –
I've been married 27 and a half years to my beautiful wife, we have 3
great children,” he added.
Bloggers also criticized producers for
not including a representative of the gay and lesbian community.
“While the segment includes balance
and Phillips handily challenges Cohen, the bigger problem is that the
segment about whether homosexuality can be cured doesn't feature any
actual homosexuals,” wrote Michael Triplett at the National
Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association's blog. “While
Lowenthal is a worthy representative of the opposition and a
wonderful spokeswoman as an ally, it's always problematic when these
kinds of conversations go on without having the people most effected
by the legislation – gays and lesbians – represented on the
Truth Wins Out, a group dedicated to
fighting the ex-gay movement, called the segment “absurd.”
“The fact that you asked this
question is beyond the pale, because it's been answered, repeatedly,
by every credible mental health and medical organization, going all
the way back to the early 1970's!,” the group said
on its blog. “No, Kyra, it's not a 'problem in need of a
cure,' and it's absurd that you would ask the question.”
GLAAD says that an invitation to appear
Wednesday morning on CNN to discuss the matter was revoked at the
last minute without an explanation.
Lowenthal's bill received a key
Assembly committee's approval on Tuesday.