Predictably some in the mainstream media can’t let a gay story run without quoting some antigay person – no matter if what that person has to say is irrelevant to the story or just downright false. Case in point: The Sacramento Bee and its story in today’s paper about the elevation of openly gay Assemblyman John Perez (D-Los Angeles) as the next speaker of the Statehouse’s lower body.
Bee reporter Jim Sanders ran to blatant homophobe Randy Thomasson for a quote about Perez. Thomasson presides over the Campaign for California Families and is the mainstream media in California’s go-to-guy for “balanced reporting” when it comes to covering LGBT politics. Inclusion of his malicious attacks against Harvey Milk being given the Medal of Freedom in local news reports earlier this year particularly irked LGBT people in the Bay Area.
As for Perez as the next speaker, Thomasson issued a statement, from which The Bee’s Sanders quoted, alleging that the lawmaker:
“… is an aggressive supporter of the sexual indoctrination of schoolchildren, homosexual ‘marriages,’ and punishing business owners that don’t support homosexuality and cross-dressing.”
Not only did Sanders not bother to press Thomasson for any proof to back up his claims, he describes the group as “an advocacy group on family and social issues.” This vanilla description does a disservice to readers, as it glosses over the fact that it does nothing to advocate for LGBT families and its sole purpose is to push an anti-gay agenda in California.
Even more problematic is that Sanders used a generic quote from Perez to offer a “balance” to his including Thomasson’s hate speech. Rather than asking Perez about each of the charges leveled against him, a rather boilerplate response is used:
“Pérez said he will “represent the interests of all people in the state of California” regardless of sexual orientation.”
I think The Bee dropped the ball here in not only deciding to allow Thomasson’s quote to clearly go unchallenged, but also for obviously cutting-and-pasting from a press release.
If it wanted to provide balance, at the minimum Sanders should have gotten a counter comment from Equality California, the statewide LGBT lobbying group.
Kudos to the San Francisco Chronicle and reporter Marisa Lagos for not opting to use a throw-away and patently ridiculous quote from an anti-gay group in her story about Perez. Instead, Lagos dialed up EQCA to get their perspective for the article:
“He’s the first openly gay person of color elected to the Legislature, so it’s really a testament to what he’s done in the Legislature and before in labor, for the environment, for the civil rights movement and for the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) movement,” said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors. “To have an openly gay Latino heading the largest legislative body, that represents the most people in the country, in and of itself is going to have a significant impact on advancing LGBT rights.”