AP Reports Day Without A Gay Only One Way

On an issue as controversial and divisive as Proposition 8 and gay marriage, sound journalism demands balance. But the Associated Press' Dec. 9 story on “calling in gay” includes opinions only from those in favor of same-sex marriage.


In protest of the passage of California's Proposition 8, which overturned the California Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage, and to illustrate the importance of homosexuals to the work place and the economy, same sex marriage proponents have asked their supporters to “call in gay” on Wednesday, Dec. 10.  Participants are encouraged to skip work to “take away from the economy and give back,” by volunteering in their communities, according to “gay day” creator Sean Hetherington.

The Associated Press' story includes quotes from various gay groups, but fails to incorporate the opinions of any same-sex marriage opponents. Instead of pursuing balance, author Lisa Leff fawned over Hetherington, who “dreamed up the idea with his boyfriend” and liked the name “because it rhymed.”

Leff does include a dissenting opinion, but that opinion comes from a pro-gay group that opposes the day off for economic reasons. Jules Graves, the coordinator of the Colorado Queer Straight Alliance believes that employers may not appreciate the gesture in support of gays and that the day off work could be “extra-challenging…given the current economic situation and job market.”

Rather than taking it a step further and analyzing the economic impact of gay employees refusing to work, Leff gives school teachers the opportunity to explain why they are taking the day off. She quotes  Scott Craig, a fifth-grade teacher in Philadelphia and a local American Civil Liberties Union volunteer who is happy to take the day off so he can prepare to expose and introduce gay issues to his students. “We want to get the conversation going in the community that gay is not bad,” said Craig. “For kids to hear that in a positive light can be life-changing.” He, along with 25 other teachers at his school, is taking tomorrow off so they can plan this “introduction of gay issue” to students.

Leff doesn't ask any parents of Craig's students what they think about that plan. Instead, she glowingly mentions the impact of the absent teachers. “So many of the school's 60 teachers were eager to show support for gay rights, they had to make sure enough stayed behind to staff classrooms.”

The sources quoted in the AP story not only include ACLU volunteers, gay activists, and the creators of 'gay day,' but a public relations expert whose focus is the gay and lesbian market. Witeck-Combs Communications' CEO Bob Witeck, suggests that gay supporters “devote their dollars to gay-friendly business year-round,” in order to make a bigger impact.”

The story has been widely published on various newspaper websites such as the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Washington Post, and television network websites including ABC, MSNBC, and CBS.

Erin Brown is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.