GLAAD takes milder route in church debate

MINNEAPOLIS: Although one of the nation's leading gay-rights groups sought not to campaign aggressively over the confirmation of Rev. V. Gene Robinson as the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, Robinson's successful accession last week has left the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) hopeful about the success of future campaign efforts.

MINNEAPOLIS: Although one of the nation's leading gay-rights groups sought not to campaign aggressively over the confirmation of Rev. V. Gene Robinson as the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, Robinson's successful accession last week has left the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) hopeful about the success of future campaign efforts.

Glennda Testone, director of regional media for GLAAD, said the group opted not to aggressively campaign for the Robinson appointment, believing religious messages are

best received when they come directly from the congregation. Rather, the advocacy group

conducted media outreach to ensure that "the story was covered in the way it should be," said Testone.

She pointed to the fact that the confirmation of Robinson was delayed at the last minute when two accusations of misconduct were leveled against him.

"We encouraged media outlets to take the allegations for what they were: 11th-hour attempts to disqualify this man," said Testone.

Yet she said the milestone is indicative of "more and more Americans recognizing that gay people deserve civil-rights protection, whether it's in the Episcopal Church or the Supreme Court."

GLAAD indicated that it will now talk to journalists about what the outcome means on a broader scale.

"Folks have been able to come to an agreement, despite disagreements. That's the story that has been missed," Testone explained.

Some even suggested that Robinson's accession could help recently reinvigorated efforts to legalize same-sex marriage.

"In the same way the clergy and laity judged [Robinson] for the work he did with his ministry, people are going to look at two people of the same sex living together as two people who love each other," said Rev. Steven Baines, senior organizer for liberal advocacy group People for the American Way.

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