The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation on Wednesday launched a new tool to help counter homophobic speech by anti-gay pundits in the media that the group hopes will influence the way news outlets choose guests to speak about LGBT topics.
The Commentator Accountability Project will be a repository for collecting the statements made by anti-gay pundits like Peter Sprigg and Maggie Gallagher as they make appearances in the media in large and small markets.
“If the people who book these shows knew the kind of extreme things that [these pundits] have said in other places, they would realize that they’re not experts in gay people’s lives,” said Richard Ferraro, GLAAD’s director of communications.
GLAAD said the project seeks to “educate the media about the extreme rhetoric of over three dozen activists who are often given a platform to speak in opposition to LGBT people and the issues that affect their lives.” The searchable online database will organize the history of statements commentators like Tony Perkins and Scott Lively have made over the years that reveal bias against not only LGBT people but people of different ethnic or religious backgrounds, or statements that may be considered offensive to women or immigrants.
“People like Evan Wolfson [of Freedom To Marry] can use the site before they go debate these people, as well, and say ‘remember when you said this?'” Ferraro said of other ways the site can be used to highlight the anti-gay remarks made by these pundits.
The site will also have a crowd-sourcing component, which will allow concerned viewers to document statements made by these pundits wherever they appear, which can be verified and added to their file.
“They don’t always get on CNN and say the same things that they say when they’re speaking to a more sympathetic audience,” Ferraro told the Blade. “They need to know who they’re booking.”
The new site reads “Audiences need to be aware that when they’re not talking to the mainstream media, these voices are comparing the LGBT people to Nazi Germany, predicting that equal treatment of LGBT people will lead to the total collapse of society, and even making accusations of satanic influence. ”
“Hate is not an expert opinion,” said GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick in a statement. “In most cases, news outlets invite reputable experts to speak on the subject at hand, but when talking about LGBT issues, open hostility and anti-LGBT bias seems to be all the credibility required. This project holds these so-called ‘pundits’ accountable for the extreme anti-LGBT rhetoric they continue to spread.”