KOAA News First claimed mooing-dog campaign "advocat[es] homosexuality"


A KOAA television newscast referred to a campaign asserting that gay and lesbian people are "born gay" as "a campaign advocating homosexuality."

During a News First broadcast by Colorado Springs NBC affiliate KOAA, posted on the station's website on September 27, News First anchor Lisa Lyden referred to a campaign asserting that gay and lesbian people are "born gay" as "a campaign advocating homosexuality."

Lyden was referring to the Gill Foundation's "Born Different" campaign, which involves advertisements and signs featuring "Norman," a dog that was born saying "moo" instead of barking. (The Gill Foundation helps fund Colorado Media Matters) A July 18 Rocky Mountain News article described the campaign as "a metaphor for the view that genetics plays a role in a person's sexual orientation." According to the Gill Foundation, the ads are intended to start a "dialogue" about the causes of homosexuality -- not, as Lyden claimed, to promote homosexuality. In response to the "Born Different" ads, the Colorado Springs-based, conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family launched a competing "No-Moo-Lies" campaign arguing that "there's no scientific proof showing that people are 'born gay.' " That campaign features "Sherman," a dog that barks.

Discussing alleged vandalism, theft, and arson against a property displaying a "No-Moo-Lies" sign, Lyden reported on KOAA:

LYDEN: In other news tonight, there are questions as to whether crimes of intimidation against people who disagree with a campaign advocating homosexuality are hate crimes. It's a situation that has grown from the "Moo" campaign that was put out by gay-advocacy groups, and then Focus on the Family responded with a "No Moo" campaign to counter arguments. Now because of the "no moo" signs, a family in Briargate has been targeted with a series of crimes.

Contrary to Lyden's characterization of the "Born Different" campaign as "a campaign advocating homosexuality," the Gill Foundation consistently has stated that the purpose of the campaign is to encourage dialogue about whether people are "born gay." As the News reported on July 19:

Gill Foundation spokeswoman and former Colorado Springs Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace denied any ulterior motive, saying the Norman campaign was intended to start a dialogue.

"Our whole attempt was just to have a lighter touch and not to bring in religion or politics," Makepeace said.

"It's about stimulating people to think about the question that they might not have thought about before: What do you think? Are people born gay?"

Makepeace also was quoted in the August 7 San Francisco Chronicle as saying, "We're not telling people how to think -- we're asking them to think."

A September 27 article on KOAA's website complementing the broadcast report noted that "the Gill Foundation which helped fund the 'Moo' campaign condemn (sic) the crimes." It also quoted a Gill Foundation spokesperson as saying "the spirit of the campaign was to promote a civil dialogue." Nevertheless, the article, posted by KOAA producer Daneya Esgar, repeated the original broadcast in questioning whether the unlawful acts committed against the property constitute hate crimes "against people who disagree with a campaign advocating homosexuality."

A tip from Colorado Media Matters reader A.B. contributed to this item. Thanks, and keep them coming!

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