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Fox News Revives Anti-Gay Group’s IRS Conspiracy Theory

June 16, 2014 11:48 am ET by Luke Brinker

Fox News provided the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) a forum to peddle its baseless theory that the IRS intentionally leaked its donor list - ignoring that a Reagan-appointed federal judge has dismissed that theory as having "no evidence."

In 2012, a low-level IRS official inadvertently leaked an unredacted list of NOM's donors in response to a public records request. When the list ended up in the hands of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a pro-marriage equality group, NOM alleged that the Obama administration had colluded with the HRC to embarrass NOM and its donors. Investigations by the acting commissioner of the IRS and Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George turned up no evidence that that was the case, and even NOM co-founder Maggie Gallagher conceded that the leak was the mistake of a "low-level employee."

Still, NOM sued the IRS for punitive damages. On June 3, Reagan-appointed U.S. District Court Judge James C. Cacheris smacked down NOM's conspiracy theory, calling it "unconvincing" and "unpersuasive," and writing that NOM had "failed to produce a shred of proof." However, Cacheris allowed NOM's claim for legal fees and any proven damages from the unintentional leak to proceed - which was enough for NOM to claim victory despite the humiliating blow Cacheris dealt to its central claims.

On the June 15 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ, host Shannon Bream interviewed NOM chairman John Eastman about the group's effort to win those damages. Bizarrely, neither Bream nor Eastman noted Cacheris' ruling, without which NOM's claim wouldn't be proceeding. But Bream did allow Eastman to inveigh against the IRS for leaking NOM's tax documents "to a gay and lesbian activist" - making no mention of the fact that that leak has repeatedly been found to have been unintentional:

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Wall Street Journal Op-Ed: Being Transgender Is Just A "Confusion"

June 13, 2014 2:02 pm ET by Luke Brinker

Wall Street Journal op-ed by conservative psychiatrist Paul McHugh smeared transgender people as delusional and disordered, ignoring medical consensus and arguing that transgender patients should be denied medically necessary treatment.

In the June 13 edition of the Wall Street Journal, McHugh lamented the growing attention to transgender rights in public policy and the media, warning that these developments signal a troubling trend toward affirming transgender identities rather than treating them as "confusions" and illnesses:

Yet policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention. This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.

The transgendered suffer a disorder of "assumption" like those in other disorders familiar to psychiatrists. With the transgendered, the disordered assumption is that the individual differs from what seems given in nature—namely one's maleness or femaleness. Other kinds of disordered assumptions are held by those who suffer from anorexia and bulimia nervosa, where the assumption that departs from physical reality is the belief by the dangerously thin that they are overweight.

[...]

At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. "Sex change" is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.

Expert consensus doesn't comport with McHugh's depiction of trans people as mentally ill. As the American Psychological Association notes, experts now acknowledge transgender identities as "part of the human condition," with many individuals' gender identities established by the age of four. Increased awareness of the realities of the transgender experience led the American Psychiatric Association in 2012 to stop classifying being transgender as a mental disorder, replacing the previous diagnosis of gender identity disorder with gender dysphoria, the distress that often comes from "a marked incongruence between one's experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender." But that didn't stop McHugh from using some form of the word "disorder" 10 times to describe transgender people.

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Meet The Right-Wing Pundit Who Just Defended "Ex-Gay" Therapy Before Congress

June 11, 2014 5:04 pm ET by Luke Brinker

An anti-gay pundit who used his recent appearance before a House subcommittee to champion "ex-gay" therapy is a repeated Fox News guest who has used his position at the right-wing Liberty Counsel to wage ridiculous attacks on progressives and LGBT equality.

On June 10, Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver testified before a congressional hearing on religious liberty called by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ). During his testimony, Staver condemned laws in California and New Jersey banning the thoroughly discredited practice of "conversion therapy" for gay people. Staver asserted that laws banning the practice constituted "religious discrimination," accusing "homosexual activists" of trying to squelch the truth about how gay people "can successfully reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions."

In an exchange with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) during that same hearing, Staver grasped at straws as he attempted to defend anti-gay business discrimination:

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Anti-Defamation League Condemns Tony Perkins For “Deeply Offensive” Holocaust Comparison

June 11, 2014 11:49 am ET by Luke Brinker

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization dedicated to combatting anti-Semitism, condemned Family Research Council (FRC) president and regular Fox News and CNN guest Tony Perkins for his “deeply offensive” comments comparing LGBT non-discrimination protections with the Holocaust.

On June 6, Perkins blasted a Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruling finding that a baker had violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple,  asking on his radio program Washington Watch,  “I’m beginning to think, are re-education camps next? When are they going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?” Perkins’ remarks echoed his statement in April that the LGBT movement “reminds me of Nazi Germany.”

In a June 10 statement, ADL President Abraham Foxman denounced Perkins’ comments, calling them “offensive and inappropriate”:

Tony Perkins’ invocation of the Holocaust in his statement referring to a judge’s finding that a baker unlawfully discriminated against gay customers is offensive and inappropriate.

There is no comparison between contemporary American political issues and the actions of Hitler’s regime during the Holocaust. Such inappropriate analogies only serve to trivialize the Holocaust and are deeply offensive to Jews and other survivors, as well as those Americans who fought valiantly against the Nazis in World War II.

We urge Perkins to apologize and to refrain from using Holocaust imagery to make his point.

Extreme anti-LGBT rhetoric has defined Perkins’ career, and the FRC’s defamatory attacks on the LGBT community led the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to designate it an anti-gay hate group in 2010.

Despite that record, Perkins and FRC are frequent fixtures on CNN and Fox News. Fox’s Megyn Kelly in particular has given Perkins the star treatment, inviting him onto The Kelly File to attack basic non-discrimination policies and to champion anti-LGBT business discrimination.

Given his reputation, Perkins isn’t likely to take the ADL’s advice to heart. But media outlets might want to reconsider whether it’s wise to provide him a forum to continue peddling his apoplectic attacks on LGBT equality. 

Previously:

Time Publishes Fluff Piece For An Anti-LGBT Hate Group

Is Megyn Kelly Homophobia's Best Ally At Fox?

CNN Invites Anti-Gay Hate Group To Weigh In On Michael Sam's Kiss

Beck: "Thought Police" Prevent Me From Saying 'Fag The New Nigger'

June 10, 2014 5:21 pm ET by Carlos Maza

Glenn Beck decried “thought police” for making it difficult to say "fag the new nigger," the title of a poster he featured on his web show. 

During the June 9 edition of Beck’s The Blaze TV program, Beck invited anonymous street artist Sabo to discuss his work. In May, Sabo produced a widely-condemned “Abortion Barbie” poster to attack Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, depicting “a mostly-naked Barbie doll with a plastic baby in her belly.”

The segment spotlighted a number of Sabo’s other controversial posters, including one that read “FAG THE NEW NIGGER”:

Discussing the poster, Sabo and Beck lamented that they couldn’t use homophobic and racist slurs because “we live in such a politically correct society”:

SABO: You know, it bothers me you can’t say the name.

BECK: It bothers me. It bothers me.

SABO: I mean, we are such a politically correct environment that you can’t even say “fag the new nigger.” Why is that? It’s a word.

BECK: I know that. But you know what the reality is.

[…]

BECK: It astounds me that the people who, my whole life, have accused me and people like me of being a Nazi, of trying to stifle speech and everything else – I don’t care what you’re saying. It doesn’t bother me. It’s not going to make me cower in fear and run away crying. However, they have now stifled everyone’s speech to the point to where we’re now getting down to thought police.

Sabo went on to lament that “the whites in general have been beat down so much” and compare President Obama to Adolf Hitler. 

Preview:

Fox's Brian Kilmeade Mocks His Own Prom Photo, Says It's "A Little Gay"

Fox's Geraldo Rivera: "C*cksucking F*ggot" Isn't A "Homophobic Slur"

Daily Caller Uses Transphobic Slur Against Activist Janet Mock

How CBS Botched A Positive Story About Transgender Youth

June 09, 2014 11:47 am ET by Luke Brinker

CBS Sunday Morning provided a cautionary example for what media outlets should avoid when covering transgender issues, providing an anti-LGBT hate group leader with a history of misleading news outlets a forum to attack transgender accommodations during an otherwise commendable segment highlighting the lived experiences of transgender children.

During the June 9 edition of CBS Sunday Morning, correspondent Rita Braver interviewed transgender youth, family members, and a medical doctor who treats trans children for a segment titled "Born this way: Stories of transgender children." That framing - and Braver's willingness to let transgender children speak for themselves - offered a refreshing contrast to media coverage that all too often excludes transgender voices from discussions of transgender issues.

Inexplicably, however, Braver saw fit to interview Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a Sacramento-based anti-LGBT hate group. But Braver didn't identify Dacus as a hate group leader, instead describing him as the leader of "a conservative legal group" and allowing him to attack transgender rights as "ludicrous" and "really unreasonable":

DACUS: You're saying under [California's transgender non-discrimination] law that a 13-year-old or 14-year-old girl in a locker room has to change and dress and be naked in front of, say, a 16-year-old boy simply because a 16-year-old boy who's a biological boy, but inside has a mental condition called gender identity dysphoria and thinks that he's a girl. This is ludicrous and really unreasonable.

Braver accepted at face value Dacus' assertion that he believes "transgender kids should be treated with compassion," as long as they aren't allowed to use facilities appropriate for their gender identity. But if Braver had done her homework on the PJI, perhaps she'd have treated that profession of compassion with appropriate skepticism.

Dacus is a man who has stated that LGBT people are under "Satan's dominion," and his group has shown a willingness to stoop to any low to fight LGBT equality. During the debate over California's law allowing transgender students to use facilities and play on sports teams that correspond with their gender identity, the PJI fabricated a story about a transgender Colorado high school student harassing her peers in the girl's restroom. The storm of negative publicity the PJI's lie brought to the girl led her to be placed on suicide watch.

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Meet Jonathan Saenz, The Anti-Gay Extremist Fighting Houston’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance

June 06, 2014 1:47 pm ET by Luke Brinker

In the thick of virtually every hot-button cultural battle to engulf Texas  in recent years has been Jonathan Saenz – the president of a lobbying group called Texas Values, a regular spokesman for right-wing causes in local media, and a rabidly theocratic, anti-LGBT extremist.

This May, during the debate over Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance – a measure that prohibits discrimination based on characteristics including sexual orientation, and gender identity – Saenz emerged as a leading voice against the proposal in local media. Local news outlets described him as an attorney or social conservative, obscuring the extremist worldview that undergirded his fight against the ordinance.

With an effort underway to repeal the ordinance, which Houston’s City Council passed eleven to six on May 28, Saenz is certain to remain in the spotlight as the fight over its LGBT protections continues.

Saenz’s group, Texas Values, is the lobbying arm of the Plano, TX-based Liberty Institute, an organization notorious for peddling discredited stories about supposed threats posed by government and progressive activists to religious liberty. Upon Texas Values’ launch in 2012, Saenz became its founding president, following a stint as Liberty Institute’s top lobbyist in Austin. Texas Values’ biography of Saenz notes that he “has been featured in local, national, and international media” including cable networks Fox News and CNN, where he has discussed such topics as school prayer and Texas conservatives’ effort to remake the state’s social studies curriculum.

But those media appearances only hinted at the far-right vision informing Saenz and Texas Values’ work.

Texas Values’ Right-Wing Crusades

Much of Texas Values’ work centers on its fight against LGBT equality, which includes opposing even basic protections for LGBT people:

  • In January, the organization applauded Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for “stand[ing] up against lesbian mayor” Annise Parker after Abbott filed court briefs opposing Parker’s bid to extend insurance benefits to Houston employees’ same-sex spouses.
  • The group opposes efforts to curb anti-LGBT bullying, contending that those efforts grant “special rights” to “homosexuals.”
  • Texas Values even supports keeping anti-sodomy laws on the books. While the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision found state anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional, Texas’ law is still on the books. In 2013, Texas Values opposed legislation that would have repealed the law, assailing the bill as part of an effort to push a gay “agenda.”

Texas Values also beats the drum of a litany of typical right-wing social causes. The group opposes comprehensive sex education in schools and has attacked Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis for her support for reproductive rights and the gay “anti-family agenda,”

The group also pushes the tired right-wing myth of a “war on Christmas” – but with a distinctly conspiracy-minded fervor. According to the group, that “war” is “a key front in the radical movement to remove all religious expression from the public square” and to create a world in which children are too afraid to even talk about Christmas at school.

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How Fox News Helped Make Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson A Conservative Media Darling

June 05, 2014 4:40 pm ET by Michelle Leung

On May 29, Duck Dynasty star turned GOP darling Phil Robertson gave a keynote speech at the Republican Leadership Conference (RLC). His speech, which focused on religion and encouraged Republicans to "get godly," is the latest milestone in the controversial reality TV star's meteoric and unexpected rise in national conservative politics.

Robertson's presence at the RLC perplexed Fox News' Juan Williams, who questioned why the GOP had embraced a figure who gained national notoriety after making a number of homophobic and racist statements in an interview with GQ. During a May 31 appearance on Fox's Cashin' In, Williams asked what Robertson's rise in conservative politics said about the GOP:

BOLLING: I don't know, I don't know Juan, what about it? I think he's big business, and I think it's probably good for the GOP. No?

WILLIAMS: No, are you kidding me? What does it say, Eric, that GOP makes a hero out of a guy that says black were happy with slavery and segregation, and gays are to be damned. Is he the chief of outreach for the GOP, or is he the chief of internal self-satisfaction?

But Williams' own network is at least partly responsible for the GOP's fawning relationship with Robertson, having worked for months to whitewash his offensive comments and prop up the reality star as a beacon of American Christianity.

Fox's fascination with the Duck Dynasty family predates Robertson's GQ interview. But when A&E announced in Decemberthat they had placed Robertson on a hiatus over his comments, the network went into damage control mode; Fox's Sean Hannity described the comments as "old fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and values," while Fox reported Todd Starnes claimed Robertson was just reflecting "the teachings of the Bible." Even Megyn Kelly came to Robertson's defense, calling him a "Christian guy" and criticizing LGBT activists for trying to "shut down the debate."

After A&E reinstated Robertson, Fox News snatched the first 'exclusive' interview with the Robertson family as part of the network's "All American New Year." Since then, Fox has continued to whitewash Robertson's rhetoric by repeatedly depicting him and the Robertson family as besieged Christian heroes.

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Bill O'Reilly's Dangerous Parenting Advice For Transgender Kids

June 04, 2014 3:37 pm ET by Luke Brinker

On a network notorious for its problematic coverage of transgender issues, Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor stands out as an especially egregious forum for transphobia, with host Bill O'Reilly using his perch to dispense bigoted and dangerous advice for parents raising transgender children.

During the June 3 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly invited The Five co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle and Fox contributor Lisa Weihl to discuss six-year-old Ryland Whittington, whose parents Jeff and Hillary posted a YouTube video - now viewed nearly 5 million times - describing Ryland's discovery of his gender identity and their acceptance of his gender transition.

Throughout his discussion of Whittington's story, O'Reilly misgendered him as a girl, stating that he wouldn't have allowed Ryland to identify as a boy if he was his parent:

O'REILLY:  I always put myself in the shoes, I wouldn't do it. Would you do it? I wouldn't do it. 

WEIHL:  If my child was saying this is how I identify myself - 

O'REILLY: At 5?

WEIHL: And all the experts are saying let him or her be -

O'REILLY: And you let the she be a boy? Would you do it? 

[...]

O'REILLY: We know you are touchy-feely. I don't think five-year-olds make those kinds of decisions. 

[...] 

O'REILLY: If she wants to play football, I'd let her, but she is still a girl. [emphasis added]

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On Fox, The Gay Marriage Revolution Has Not Been Televised

June 04, 2014 11:38 am ET by Luke Brinker

In the year since the Supreme Court invalidated the core of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor, over a dozen district courts have struck down state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, marking a historic shift in the legal debate over marriage equality. But coverage of the marriage equality revolution has been largely absent from Fox News, where most of the decisions have received less than a minute of coverage.

In late June of 2013, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, finding that prohibiting the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages served "no legitimate purpose." While the Court didn't establish a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in Windsor, that ruling has proven pivotal in a dozen district courts' and the New Jersey Superior Court's subsequent decisions to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage. As a result, four more states now have marriage equality, with a host of other decisions being appealed.

The rash of court rulings - in blue states like Oregon and crimson-red states like Oklahoma - suggest that marriage equality is likely headed back to the Supreme Court, with the potential for a sweeping ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans by June 2015. And with a 13-0 record in the courts since Windsor, some experts predict that marriage equality could soon effectively become the law of the land even without the High Court.

But if you've been watching Fox News, this legal revolution for marriage equality may well have escaped your notice.

Fox News has spent just over 10 minutes covering the 13 court decisions in favor of marriage equality since Windsor, according to an Equality Matters analysis examining the five-day windows after each decision,during which period these decisions were actual news stories, with the bulk of the network's coverage devoted to one state, Utah. New Mexico and Michigan's decisions received no coverage at all, and the majority of the decisions received less than a minute of attention:

For the four states - New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania - where same-sex marriage has taken effect as a result of court rulings post-Windsor, Fox News has provided a scant two minutes and 14 seconds of coverage, compared with nearly 16 minutes from CNN and more than an hour from MSNBC:

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The Inspiring Transgender Child And The Fox News Doctor Who Would Prescribe Anti-Psychotic Medication

June 03, 2014 4:13 pm ET by Luke Brinker

Fox News “Medical A Team” member Dr. Keith Ablow assailed the parents of a transgender child whose story has gone viral on the web, suggesting that six-year-old Ryland Whittington would have been better served by “anti-psychotic medication” than by having his parents affirm his gender identity.

On May 27, Jeff and Hillary Whittington shared Ryland’s story in a seven-minute YouTube video. The video, which has been viewed more than 4 million times, describes Ryland’s discovery of his gender identity and the family’s acceptance of his gender transition:

The Whittingtons’ support for Ryland was spotlighted at the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast last month, where they received the Inspiration Award for 2014.

According to a June 3 article on right-wing website LifeSiteNews.com, Fox’s Ablow wasn’t moved by Ryland’s story of self-discovery. LifeSiteNews – which misgendered Ryland throughout its story – reported that Ablow opposes parents helping their children transition to the genders with which they identify (emphasis added):

Massachusetts psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow, an author and Fox News contributor, told LifeSiteNews that the video paints a happy picture while consciously ignoring the risks of early transition – which often involves genital plastic surgery and large doses of hormones.

“I am not convinced that the best option for children who are uncomfortable with their gender is to rapidly transition them to the opposite gender,” he said. “I believe that on reflection, it will be shown that other paths may be the wiser paths.”

[…]

“I believe that it is possible that developing secondary sexual characteristics that match one’s DNA may actually be part of someone becoming more comfortable with his or her God-given gender,” he said.  He added that allowing a child to undergo transition at an early age may prevent them from ever becoming reconciled to their biological sex.

[…]

“From a personal, not a professional standpoint, were my daughter to assert that she were a boy, not a girl, there is no chance we would be headed to a surgeon’s office without a trial of anti-psychotic medication,” Ablow said.

Ablow said that transgender activists have made it more difficult for therapists to do their jobs because they have turned gender dysphoria into a political issue instead of a medical one.

While Ablow has no expertise in gender or sexuality issues, actual experts contradict his transphobic talking points. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, gender identity is usually established by the age of four. Medical professionals note that denying medical treatment to transgender children can be harmful; Dr. Norman Spack of Children’s Hospital Boston, for instance, states that many children who don’t receive treatment resort to self-mutilation in an attempt to change their anatomies. According to Spack, the earlier children deemed to need treatment start receiving it, the easier of a time they'll have passing as the gender with which they identify and the less likely they'll be to require more radical treatments later in life.

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Time Publishes Fluff Piece For An Anti-LGBT Hate Group

May 30, 2014 4:31 pm ET by Luke Brinker

Time published an article documenting the Family Research Council’s (FRC) annual “Watchmen on the Wall” conference, glossing over the anti-gay hate group’s extreme positions.

In a May 30 story titled “Watchmen on the Wall: Pastors Prepare to Take Back America,” Time correspondent Elizabeth Dias offered a profile of FRC’s annual “Watchmen on the Wall” conference. The article offered a one-sided depiction of FRC’s  efforts “advocate for… Biblical values,” framing the group’s struggle as an effort to fight back against a culture in which “religion is losing its public influence” (emphasis added):

[A group of 50] pastors had come to the nation’s capital as part of the annual “Watchmen on the Wall” Washington briefing, a conference sponsored by the Family Research Council to connect pastors with policy makers and legislators and to encourage the pastors to advocate for those Biblical values FRC believes should be advanced in America.

[…]

This year’s briefing focused on defending the idea that marriage only should exist between a man and woman and on countering what many conservative Christians believe are widespread attacks on Christian religious liberty. “There is an all-out assault on Biblical marriage, with judges overturning the will of the vast majority of voters in some states […] Religious organizations and Christian-owned businesses are being forced to provide insurance plans that cover abortions and abortion-inducing drugs or face fines and punishment…and the list goes on,” FRC president Tony Perkins wrote in a welcome letter to attendees. “It would appear that lawlessness has been unleashed upon our country and culture as we witness an unprecedented and outrageous abuse of power by governing authorities.”

[…]

For many of them, the battle goes beyond politics: it is spiritual warfare. As senior FRC fellow E.W. Jackson preached to the gathering, the ACLU and the Foundation for the Freedom from Religion, in trying to stop Christian prayer at public events, represent a movement “not simply [of] human beings who disagree with us—it is demonic power moving to shut down the power of God.”

The article failed to note that the FRC is a Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)-designated anti-gay hate group, owing to the malicious anti-LGBT rhetoric of FRC figures like FRC president Tony Perkins, who has endorsed a Ugandan bill that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality, asserted that gay people face “eternal damnation,” and compared gays with terrorists. Along with other FRC personalities, Perkins has accused gay men of preying on children and condemned efforts to curb anti-LGBT bullying as part of an effort to “recruit” children “into that lifestyle.”

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Fox Affiliate Sends Transphobic Reporter Emily Miller To Smear Maryland's New Transgender Law

May 29, 2014 4:11 pm ET by Luke Brinker

Washington, D.C.'s Fox affiliate dispatched chief investigative reporter Emily Miller to report on Maryland's new law protecting transgender people from discrimination - allowing Miller to continue the baseless, fear-mongering attacks she waged on the law as a writer for the right-wing Washington Times.

On May 28, Fox 5 aired a segment on the Fairness for All Marylanders Act, which Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-MD) signed into law on May 15. The law, which mirrors measures passed in 16 other states and several Maryland counties, prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations. Opponents havelaunched a petition drive aimed at overturning the law, peddling the myth that sexual predators will exploit the measure to sneak into women's restrooms and assault women and children.

Miller's May 28 report hyped those fears, citing a problematically-worded Rasmussen Reports poll indicating that most people oppose allowing "a man to use a woman's restroom" and suggesting that the law posed a danger to women's safety. The report also falsely claimed that Maryland was only the second state to adopt gender identity protections:

Maryland just became the second state after California to pass a law that prohibits discrimination based on what is called "gender identity." The law will protect transgender people in the workplace, with housing and public accommodations.

During a debate that followed Miller's report, Miller provided State Delegate Neil Parrott (R) - the leader of the petition drive - a platform to claim that the law would make it easier for predators to commit sex crimes:

DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

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Radio Hosts Mimic Fox's Transphobia, Promptly Get Fired

May 22, 2014 4:31 pm ET by Luke Brinker & Carlos Maza

Two radio hosts in Rochester, NY lost their jobs following a grossly transphobic segment mocking the transgender community. But the vicious comments that got them fired are nearly identical to the kind of transphobic hate speech Fox News regularly peddles to its national audience with impunity.

On May 22, Rochester radio station 98.9 The Buzz announced that it had fired Kimberly and Beck - the hosts of the station's morning talk radio show "The Breakfast Buzz' - following outrage over a segment criticizing Rochester's plan to cover transgender healthcare for employees and their families. According to a statement from Entercom Rochester:

This morning Entercom fired Kimberly and Beck effective immediately. Their hateful comments against the transgender community do not represent our station or our company. We deeply apologize to the transgender community, the community of Rochester, and anyone else who was offended by their hateful comments. We are proud of our past work on behalf of the local LGBT community and we remain committed to that partnership.

The May 21 segment in question was an "atrocious" train wreck of transphobic slurs, misinformation, and hate speech. Kimberly and Beck called transgender people "nut jobs," trivialized the need for transgender health care, and played Aerosmith's Dude Looks Like A Lady throughout the segment. They accused a transgender high school athlete of having an unfair advantage over her opponents and joked about her using her genitals to play baseball. And when a caller expressed disappointment in the hosts' transphobic commentary, another host responded "thank you, sir," in an attempt to mock the caller's gender:

98.9 The Buzz was right to act quickly to shut down Kimberly and Beck's hateful transphobic commentary.

But Kimberly and Beck's comments aren't all that extreme when compared to the way conservative media outlets talk about the transgender community. In reality, the segment might have been entirely unremarkable had it been aired on Fox News.

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Is Megyn Kelly Homophobia's Best Ally At Fox?

May 21, 2014 2:24 pm ET by Luke Brinker

Megyn Kelly was supposed to be a harbinger of Fox News’ “gay rights revolution,” but she’s used her primetime spot to enable some of the country’s most extreme anti-LGBT activists.

At the height of the controversy over Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson’s homophobic remarks in a December 2013 interview with GQ magazine, Kelly invited GLAAD consultant Jeremy Hooper to appear on The Kelly File and weigh in on the firestorm.

She also invited Tony Perkins, president of the notorious anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council (FRC), to appear immediately afterward.

During his segment, Hooper urged Kelly to hold Perkins accountable for his extensive history of bigoted rhetoric. “What specifically? Because I’ll ask him,” Kelly promised. Hooper pointed to Perkins’ endorsement of a Ugandan bill that would have imposed the death penalty for homosexuality, his claim that gay people face “eternal damnation,” and his comparisons of gay people with terrorists.

In the segment that followed, however, Kelly didn’t ask Perkins to explain his virulent anti-gay rhetoric. Instead, she introduced him as the leader of “a group whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and culture from a Christian worldview”:

Kelly’s failure to hold Perkins accountable is a case study in her broader habit of mainstreaming anti-gay hate.

In the seven months since The Kelly File launched in October of 2013, Fox’s 9 p.m. hour has been a friendly forum for some of the country’s most odious anti-gay extremists, including Perkins, the far-right legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and, most recently, the Benham brothers, the home renovators whose rabidly anti-gay activism led HGTV to cancel their planned reality show.

Since Kelly’s promotion to Fox’s prime-time lineup, she has hosted Perkins six times. (Filling in for Kelly on the December 27 edition of the program, Shannon Bream hosted Perkins an additional time.) Perkins has used his appearances to condemn Gov. Jan Brewer’s (R-AZ) veto of her state’s license-to-discriminate bill, champion anti-LGBT discrimination, opine on openly gay NFL draftee Michael Sam, and lambaste HGTV for cancelling the Benham brothers’ planned show.

Kelly’s willingness to grant Perkins a platform isn’t a recent development. As a daytime host on Fox’s America Live, she provided Perkins the opportunity to peddle anti-gay talking points with impunity – and often parroted the same talking points herself, asking Perkins why gay rights activists are so intolerant and defending him and other “openly religious” leaders against charges of bigotry.

Meanwhile, Kelly has invited ADF to defend anti-gay business discrimination on her program. While other cable news anchors have exposed ADF’s anti-gay extremism – including its international work to criminalize homosexuality – Kelly gave the group the same treatment she afforded Perkins, failing to hold ADF to account for its disturbing work.

The Benham brothers could also count on Kelly to downplay their history of strident anti-gay and Islamophobic activism, including condemning homosexuality as “demonic” and “destructive.” On the May 19 edition of her show, she called the backlash to their activism “incredible,” asking them to enlighten viewers on their “more traditional views”:

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How Fox News Is Helping Homophobes Hijack Christianity

May 20, 2014 11:43 am ET by Luke Brinker

Fox News is witnessing the nasty byproducts of its endless campaign to depict extreme, virulent homophobia as a normal part of mainstream Christianity.

It’s long been standard practice at Fox News to conflate anti-gay bigotry with Christianity. Last December, for instance, the network rushed to defend Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson after he compared homosexuality with bestiality and equated gay people with “drunks” and “terrorists,” with Megyn Kelly referring to Robertson as “[t]his Christian guy,” Sean Hannity describing his comments as “old fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and values,” and Fox News commentator Todd Starnes defending Robertson as upholding “the teachings of the Bible.”

Meanwhile, Fox has repeatedly touted business owners who refuse service to gay couples, taking up their mantle in regular “Fight for Faith” segments. The network has championed some of the country’s most extreme anti-gay hate groups as mainstream Christian organizations. When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declined to attend he city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade over its ban on LGBT groups, Fox News attacked him as a “religious bigot.” And the network regularly describes even basic legal protections for LGBT people as anti-Christian. 

Now, a new anti-gay controversy has once again provided fodder for Fox to depict extreme anti-gay bigotry as grounded in mainstream Christianity. Earlier this month, HGTV cancelled a forthcoming reality show slated to be hosted by brothers Jason and David Benham. The cancellation came after Right Wing Watch unearthed the brothers’ history of extreme anti-gay and Islamophobic activism, including condemning homosexuality as “demonic” and “destructive.”

Anchor Megyn Kelly responded to HGTV’s move by asserting on the May 8 edition of The Kelly File that while “gay rights are more and more protected in this country,” the same didn’t hold for “Christian beliefs and Christian rights.” 

During the May 16 edition of Kelly's show, guest host Martha MacCallum invited right-wing radio commentator Dana Loesch and Democratic strategist Jessica Ehrlich to discuss the controversy engulfing the Benham brothers. Perfectly encapsulating the right’s bogus homophobia-as-Christianity narrative, Loesch dubbed Ehrlich an “anti-Christian bigot” for deigning to criticize the brothers’ extreme anti-gay views:

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Media Outlets Should Cover This Historic HIV/AIDS Development

May 19, 2014 1:52 pm ET by Luke Brinker

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) ringing endorsement last week of Truvada, the "miracle drug" that blocks HIV infection, presents news outlets with a prime opportunity to cover an historic development in the three-decade struggle against HIV/AIDS. So far, however, media organizations have largely ignored the story.

Truvada is a 10-year-old pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment combining two different antiviral drugs. Taken daily, it prevents infection of HIV. Even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug back in July 2012, it hasn't exactly caught on; a September 2013 report by Gilead Sciences found that only 1,774 people had filled Truvada prescriptions from January 2011 through March 2013. Nearly half of users were women, even though gay men are the demographic group most at risk for HIV/AIDS.

Part of the reason Truvada has been slow to gain steam is, undoubtedly, the stigma attached to those who use it. Gay men who use the drug have been derided as "Truvada Whores," a term many users have sought to reclaim. Some HIV/AIDS advocates, including Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, have cast doubt on Truvada's effectiveness, noting that it won't block infection unless users strictly adhere to taking it daily.

But advocates who hail Truvada as a watershed development in the struggle against HIV/AIDS got a huge boost on May 14, when the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report called on doctors to prescribe the pill for patients deemed at risk of HIV/AIDS - men who have sex with men, heterosexuals with at-risk partners, anyone whose partners they know are infected, and those who use drugs or share needles.

As The New York Times noted, if doctors follow the CDC's advice, Truvada prescriptions would increase to an estimated 500,000 annually.

On May 15, the Times gave the CDC's historic report prime placement on its front page:

But the Times and The Washington Post were the only major newspapers outlets to cover the CDC's report:

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Fox News Leaves No Homophobe Behind

May 16, 2014 2:54 pm ET by Carlos Maza

Fox News rolled out the welcome mat for a Dallas television host who went on a homophobic tirade after openly gay NFL player Michael Sam was shown kissing his boyfriend on ESPN.

Amy Kushnir made national headlines on May 13 after she walked off the set of The Broadcast, a Dallas, Texas morning show, following a heated discussion about the airing of Sam’s kiss on ESPN. Kushnir, who co-hosts The Broadcast, argued that the kiss was being “pushed in faces” and objected to having her sons watch two men kiss. Kushnir also claimed she also opposed seeing heterosexual kissing on television, prompting skepticism from her co-hosts and eventually resulting in Kushnir walking off the set.

That display of homophobia was apparently enough to get Kushnir an exclusive interview on Fox’s The Kelly File on May 16, where she told fill-in host Shannon Bream that the kiss between Sam and his boyfriend was “shocking” and “over-the-top”:

KUSHNIR: It was actually over-the-top. ESPN used it as an opportunity to put out shocking video when ESPN is a sports network that families watch. We’ve got children that play sports. They watch ESPN all the time. So it bothers me that they used this opportunity to promote their left-wing agenda, in my opinion.

Kushnir went on to lament that people with “traditional values” couldn’t express their views without fear of getting “lambasted.” Bream wondered if Kushnir was concerned that she was no longer able to voice her opinion, even thought it was Kushnir who decided to walk off the set of her show.

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Watch MSNBC's Josh Barro Expose The Deadly Consequences Of HIV Stigma

May 15, 2014 12:04 pm ET by Luke Brinker

Weighing in on disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's recent shaming of Magic Johnson for having HIV, MSNBC contributor Josh Barro highlighted the dangerous consequences of stigmatizing people living with HIV - a problem that extends far beyond Sterling and all too often results from problematic coverage in mainstream media.

On May 13, Sterling sat down with CNN's Anderson Cooper to discuss his lifetime ban from the NBA after racist remarks he made were leaked last month. At one point, the conversation shifted toward Johnson, the former NBA star who announced his HIV diagnosis over two decades ago.

"What has he done?" Sterling asked. He proceeded to argue that Johnson - a man renowned for his charitable work on HIV/AIDS - made a poor role model for American youth. "What kind of guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he goes and catches HIV?" Sterling said. "Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself."

It would be easy to write off Sterling's comments as merely the latest narrow-minded rant from a man who's widely seen as a national joke. But during the May 14 edition of MSNBC's The Cycle, Barro noted that Sterling is far from the only person to stigmatize HIV patients. Citing data showing persistent ignorance about how people become infected and widespread fears by patients that they'll face medical discrimination, Barro observed that "people with HIV stigma are less likely to go to the doctor and take their medicine." HIV stigma, he noted, is "literally killing people":

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Fox News, Michael Sam, And “Appropriate” Homophobia

May 15, 2014 11:36 am ET by Luke Brinker

When St. Louis Rams draft Michael Sam kissed his boyfriend in celebration of his historic selection as the first openly gay active NFL player, there were predictable protests of homophobic disgust on social media. 

The kiss also raised the ire of Fox News, where commentators condemned the kiss as “in your face” and “over affectionate.” It’s a reaction that highlights the way that modern homophobia can manifest in dishonest calls for “appropriate” behavior.

Commenting on Sam’s selection on the May 12 edition of Fox & Friends, Donald Trump essentially set the tone for the network’s response, noting that many people thought Sam’s kiss was “inappropriate” and stating that he personally thought it was “out there a little bit”:

The show’s hosts didn’t ask Trump to weigh in on this sports-related kiss.

On the May 12 edition of The Five, co-host Andrea Tantaros criticized Sam for being “overly affectionate on camera,” but avowed that she doesn’t like to see public displays of affection by anyone. Bill O’Reilly sounded the same theme on his show that night, saying that “there’s no kissing in football” – nobody tell Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen – and affirming that he opposes public displays of affection between straight people, too.

O’Reilly argued Sam’s “gay thing” was “way overplayed,” “annoying,” and “in your face.” “Do I really need to see that?” O’Reilly asked. Fox contributor Juan Williams agreed, stating that he, too, found Sam’s kiss to be a little too “in your face.”

Perhaps the least self-aware reaction came from Fox News Latino contributor Rick Sanchez, who penned a May 13 column asserting that, while he supports gay rights, Sam’s kiss “set back the cause of the LGBT movement.” Dubbing the kiss a “cake suck,” Sanchez falsely claimed that Sam “lick[ed]” cake off his boyfriend’s face in a flagrant “affront to the NFL’s culture”:

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