This entry has been revised to respect the request of the respondent from the Urban Institute. The individual responding thinks it best for the authors of the Atlas to speak for themselves. When I hear from them, I will (with their permission) post their response. I believe the general meaning of the post remains the same.
In an article last week called Homosexual groups pursue minorities, the Washington Times stated “Roughly 4 million homosexual adults live in the U.S., according to the Gay and Lesbian Atlas, compiled by the Urban Institute in the District.”
This quote seemed a little low, considering that exit polls from the 2004 election estimated about 4 million gay voters based on participants willing to self-identify as gay to pollsters. And I’m fairly sure that not every gay person voted, unfortunately.
So I emailed the Urban Institute and they indicated that the actual wording from the Atlas is:
“Assuming no undercount, census figures imply that nearly 4 million Americans are gay or lesbian, or about 2 percent of all adults…”
The Times conveniently decided to eliminate the part about “assuming no undercount”. As several chapters went into the explanation of how the estimates were made and suggesting that the figure WAS undercounted, this is no small ommission.
It should not be surprising that the Washington Times misquoted the Atlas. This is the newspaper that never reports on gays without a negative slant.
The Times is also one of the last newspapers to regularly use “homosexual” instead of “gay” even when the usage changes the meaning. For example, in the article they also have the sentence: “Dyana Mason, the executive director of Equality Virginia, begins each summer with two road trips: one to the District for the black homosexual-pride celebration in May…” I think it’s a fair assumption that there isn’t anything called “homosexual-pride,” either black or otherwise. Later they discuss a “homosexual rights advocate” without stopping to consider that there probably aren’t many people advocating something called “homosexual rights”.
However, to deliberately misquote a source to mean something nearly the opposite of what was said goes beyond bad journalism and becomes propaganda.
Now that the Times has printed this “statistic,” we can soon expect to hear something that goes like this:
There are 291 million US residents and even the homosexual activist only claim 4 million homosexual, so only about 1.4% of the population is homosexual
They will conveniently ignore that the 4 million is out of the adult population, that the Urban Institute is not a homosexual activist organization, and that the 4 million number is vastly understated.