NBC, CBS Decide Inclusion Is Too 'Controversial' for TV

United Church of Christ’s Inclusion Message Called ‘Too Controversial’; Anti-Gay Election Campaigns Spawning New Wave of Censorship

People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas decried a decision by CBS and NBC network officials to refuse a 30-second ad produced by the United Church of Christ to promote the denomination’s commitment to welcoming everyone. People For the American Way Foundation is urging activists to sign a petition to the networks protesting their decisions.

Neas said it was appalling that CBS called the ad unacceptable under its advertising guidelines because it “touches on the exclusion of gay couples” and “the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman...” NBC rejected the ad as “too controversial.” The ad campaign will run on a number of cable networks.

“It is beyond troubling, it is downright dangerous that the American ideal of inclusion is too ‘controversial’ for a network news broadcast because it conflicts with the political agenda of the White House,” said Neas.

Neas said that in the aftermath of virulently anti-gay political campaigns waged on behalf of ballot initiatives and candidates by Religious Right groups and the Republican Party – including Senator-elect Jim DeMint’s campaign-trail assertion that gay people should not be allowed to teach in public schools – gay-themed books and programming are also being singled out in censorship campaigns by elected officials.

Neas noted that the Birmingham News reported today that Alabama state Rep. Gerald Allen (R-Cottondale) has authored a bill that would prohibit the use of public funds for the "purchase of textbooks or library materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle." Allen argues that any novels featuring gay characters or textbooks suggesting homosexuality is genetic would need to be removed from the shelves of public and university libraries.

Meanwhile, South Carolina state Rep. John Graham is trying to cut funding for South Carolina Educational Television after it aired a documentary on gays in the South.

“Anti-gay pundits and political leaders are targeting a lot more than marriage equality. They are attacking basic American values like equal protection under the law and freedom of expression,” said Neas. “Politicians who exploit fear and bigotry for short-term political gain should be held responsible for the long-term damage they are causing to our culture and our Constitution.”

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