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<i>Washington Post</i> draws fire for publishing antigay ad (14437)


Washington Post draws fire for publishing antigay ad

An antigay advertising insert inside some editions of The Washington Post Sunday has sparked a widespread outcry from gay rights activists. According to an online report by Editor and Publisher magazine, Post ombudsman Michel Getlermore said he had received more than 1,000 e-mails and phone calls, most of them opposing the 16-page supplement as offensive. The ad espouses a strong argument against the fight for same-sex marriage rights. "They were overwhelmingly negative about the Post distributing this thing," Getler told E&P, noting that many of the responses were from outside the Post circulation area, indicating a formal campaign against the publication may have begun. "People were upset, and they let the paper know."

The advertorial did not run in the metro edition of the Post, according to Getler, but could be found in about 200,000 zoned copies. It was labeled "BothSides Magazine" and appeared to be a creation of Grace Christian Church, with support from a number of Virginia-area churches. Formatted like a magazine, the publication included articles that argued against comparing same-sex marriage rights to civil rights and criticized same-sex couples as parents. "In the homosexual marriage movement, they have moved beyond asking for tolerance and are demanding a national endorsement," one column states. In another Q&A section, the publication says, "Q. What is wrong with letting homosexuals marry? A. Everything. Marriage is defined by the God of nature, and a wise society will protect marriage as it has always been understood."

Although the publication was clearly marked as advertising on several pages and carried a note on the second page stating that it "is not a product of The Washington Post," newspaper officials said it drew an angry reaction from many readers. "It is not something everyone agreed with," publisher Boisfeuillet Jones Jr. told E&P, adding that advertisers had a right to pay for placement of their viewpoint. "I'm not going to say I agree with it, but it is a case where we went through the vetting process. We will not allow something hateful to go in the paper. Gay marriage is a public issue and matter of public debate, and we believed its point of view has a right to be expressed."

Gay rights activist John Aravosis took issue with the paper's claim that the ad was not hateful, especially since some of the people featured in the advertorial were authors of so-called studies arguing that gays are inferior people who die young, among other claims. "Not a hateful message?" Aravosis asked. "How do you feel about the studies showing blacks to be physically inferior to white people? Ads for skin creams that can make black people white, making civil rights legislation unnecessary since black people who choose not to use the cream have 'chosen' to be black? Any views on Hitler's scientific theories on Jews? What an absolute crock to suggest that the problem with that pamphlet is that it simply 'talks' about gay marriage. The problem with that pamphlet is that it promotes Nazi-esque quack science claiming gays are somehow inferior physically to straight people and therefore don't deserve civil rights. For the Post to suggest otherwise is intentionally intellectually dishonest. They know damn well what our complaint is about."

Some of the e-mails Getler received echoed Aravosis's sentiment. "The fact that the Post ran an advertisement whose clear purpose was to drive a wedge between two minority groups [blacks and gays] and which gave a voice to people who practice quack science and sell it as gospel is simply disgusting," one said.

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