Equality Florida Rally at Media General

07/16/09 Lindsey Kratochwill
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

The LGBT group Equality Florida helped to organize a rally and press conference at the Media General Headquarters in Tampa yesterday. That’s the home of NBC affiliate WFLA, News Channel 8.

They were speaking out against a controversial hour-long infomercial that the group called ‘anti-gay’, that was shown on the same day of St Pete Pride and the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.

The group that gathered outside of the building walked down to Kennedy Boulevard wearing red and carrying red flags. This was in response to the quote in the Tampa Tribune saying that station management saw no red flags regarding the show’s content. The rally coincided with the day that the national president of Media General was at the station. The rally hoped to bring attention to the opposition.

Tampa Councilman John Dingfelder was among the crowd to show his support for the community and condemns WFLA for airing this program.

Nadine Smith, the executive director of Equality Florida said the show did not offer another opinion, which is necessary for a fair dialogue.

The program was reportedly sold to the station for 35,000 dollars. Robert Geller from Outings and Adventures says that the station has sold out and that the community needs to see this opposition.

Many supporters such as Gabe Cornell of St. Petersburg came out with their own experiences with hate and discrimination.

Lynn Mulder is from Winter Haven. His son Ryan was murdered in a hate crime in 2007. He believes that this type of dialogue will perpetuate the conceptions and hatred for the gay community.

The program, “Speechless: Silencing the Christians,” is a religiously-charged, negative look at the gay community. Growing up, Cathy James of Securing Our Children’s Rights says that she was taught to love in Church. She tells the crowd to stand up to the religious attacks.

Nadine Smith has asked the station to apologize and challenges them to display what she calls “the real spirit of free speech.”

Rick Boylan, the president of the Stonewall Democrats, wants there to be a conversation between the community and station.

The LGBT community may have a long way to go to get an apology, but Carrie West of GaYbor says that they have just begun.

We attempted to reach Channel 8 for a statement. John Schueler, the president of Media General's Florida Communications Group said in a written statement: "Our overriding mission is to provide platforms for the broadest points of view and be responsible to the community we serve. We understand that doing so can cause strong disagreement. We screened this program and ran a disclaimer before and after it ran noting that this does not reflect the views of WFLA." More information can be found at Equality Florida’s website, www.eqfl.org.

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