Ashleigh Banfield Slammed by Media Matters for Gay Lifestyle Remark

By Melanie Nathan, May 31, 2012.

In an article entitled CNN Anchor: Pedophilia, Incest “Often Are Not By Choice,” But Homosexuality Is “Voluntary” Media Matters America took umbrage with remarks made by Ashleigh Banfield as follows:-

During the Thursday edition of CNN’s Early Start, co-anchor Ashleigh Banfield reported on comments made by Kansas Pastor Curtis Knapp, who recently called for the government to kill gays and lesbians. In an exclusive CNN interview, Knapp clarified his comments, stating:

We punish pedophilia, we punish incest, we punish polygamy and various things. It’s only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption.

Banfield wasn’t pleased by Knapp’s attempt to compare homosexuality to pedophilia and incest. In her attempt to discredit Knapp’s explanation, however, she claimed that, unlike pedophilia and incest, “homosexuality is a lifestyle choice by people. It is voluntary”:
BANFIELD: Pedophilia is not by choice, last I checked. In his sermon, Pastor Knapp blamed the Bush administration for its tolerance of gay people. Says that he claims that set the stage, in fact, for the Obama administration to endorse same-sex marriage. Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up. Unbelievable. Speechless, right?
BANFIELD: Again, we gotta outline here, when he says “they punish incest and pedophilia,” please. Those things are often not by choice and are crimes. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice by people. It is voluntary.
MEDIA MATTERS notes that
While Banfield was clearly trying condemn Knapp’s anti-gay remarks, she ended up doing a lot more harm than good.
A person’s sexual orientation is not a “lifestyle choice” or voluntary – it is an immutable part of their identity.(NOTE: I would phrase this slightly differently “A person’s sexual orientation is not a Lifestyle – nor a choice – nor voluntary)
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), “most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.” Scientific research has demonstrated that a person’s sexual orientation is not a matter of choice but rather “primarily neurological at birth.” According to molecular biologist Dean Hamer, sexual orientation is regarded in the scientific community as a phenotype and is “deeply rooted in biology.”
More importantly, the claim that gay people can simply choose to not be gay is a favorite talking point of some of the country’s most notorious anti-gay organizations. Groups like the National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council, American Family Association have all used the idea that gay people can voluntarily change their sexual orientation as a justification for denying equality to gays and lesbians. The “lifestyle choice” myth is also at the heart of efforts to “cure” gay people through “ex-gay” therapy, which has been discredited as ineffective and potentially harmful by nearly every major professional medical organization in America.
In other words, in her attempt to mock Knapp’s extreme anti-gay remarks, Banfield ended up reinforcing one of the right’s most damaging myths about LGBT people
I would add an extra important piece to the educational moment – Sexuality does not pronounce upon lifestyle in any circumstances. Being gay is NOT a lifestyle – whether or not a choice- and of course being gay is not a choice!  Lifestyle should never be used in this context – its an incorrect word usage.  Lifestyle – the word is used incorrectly when referring to sexuality.  Straight people have many varieties of lifestyle/s and some LGBTI people share those same “lifestyles.”

I agree Banfield put her foot in it and will probably apologize for her mistake – most likely basic ignorance as Media Matters realizes.  Perhaps anchors and producers who cover these matters should ensure full education, sensitivity training or always have an expert consultant on hand.

I am up for the job – I have admired Ashleigh Banfield for years!


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One Comment on “Ashleigh Banfield Slammed by Media Matters for Gay Lifestyle Remark”

  1. Tracy June 1, 2012 at 5:09 AM #

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t…

    Straight culture wants everyone to tow the line & be straight- even if you aren’t. Then, when you can no longer stand the lie you’ve been forced to live & come out- you are told by the straight culture that you are “choosing” homosexuality.

    These idiots are ignoring that you have been homosexual from day dot- it was only the pressure to conform that put you in the wrong role to begin with. Good grief!

    And don’t even get me started on the misplaced aggression towards bisexuality or fluidity. I firmly believe that some people are truly in the middle with regards to attraction. Their choice of mate is not a choice of genitalia! They are bisexual & always have been. They merely choose who they LOVE- as it ought to be for every consenting adult.

    Maybe things would change faster if the supposedly straight, sexually repressed, sex-fiends that keep fanning these flames would get themselves to therapy to work on their own issues?

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