Has news reporting about gay marriage been imbalanced in favor of tolerance for gay people — or are the critics and ombudsmen giving more weight to antigay activists’ wobbly claims than is merited by fact, faith, law or science? Liberal watchdog group FAIR argues the latter case.

Touching on the antigay movement’s exploitation of exgay issues, FAIR says:

[Chicago Tribune ombudsman Donald] Wycliff provided another story suggestion, offered by Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute. LaBarbera, who Wycliff said argued that the media fail "to tell what he considers interesting and convincing stories that argue against gay marriage," suggested "stories like those of ‘guys who come out of the gay lifestyle’ and live straight lives."

Wycliff’s failure to evaluate La-Barbera’s suggestion is troubling. Virtually all legitimate scientific groups, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have denounced the "ex-gay" movement’s attempts to change people’s sexual orientation as not only ineffective but potentially harmful. (See Extra!, 9-10/01.) Including such efforts in news coverage of gay marriage would lend credence to a discredited and damaging idea.

I disagree with that final sentence. I don’t have a problem with inclusion of exgay issues in marriage news — provided that the coverage is balanced with religious and scientific acknowledgements that exgay therapy rarely changes a person’s orientation — and that there is no single "gay lifestyle" or "straight life."

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