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Logo rejects pro-gay church ad

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Nation's first full-time gay cable network rejects pro-gay ad

The Advocate

It was controversial when the nation's major television networks rejected a pro-gay ad from the United Church of Christ because it was "too political." But what about rejection by the nation's first full-time gay cable network?

Logo, a TV channel catering to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, is now among the growing list of networks to reject an ad in which a gay couple and other minorities are seen being "ejected" from church pews, followed by a welcoming message from UCC. A Viacom-owned network, Logo is operated by MTV, which states that its standards and practices could not accept the 30-second commercial "because of the political nature of its content," according to a sales associate's e-mail response to UCC on March 30.

When pressed by the church for an official reason, MTV Networks responded, "Our guidelines state we will not accept religious advertisements that may be deemed as disparaging to another religion." "I guess the idea of gay TV doesn't really mean it's your community's network," Ron Buford, director of the UCC's Stillspeaking Initiative, told United Church News. "It's just something that's targeted at you to sell product."

Buford said the 1.3 million-member denomination's four-year identity campaign was created after focus-group testing revealed the depth to which people felt alienated or rejected by organized religion. The church's new "Ejector" ad uses humor to convey the message, stated in a voiceover, that "God doesn't reject people. Neither do we."

On Thursday, the UCC's media action Web site—www.accessibleairwaves.org—launched a letter-writing campaign to Logo executives, urging them to rethink their decision. "Viacom's refusal to air this new commercial is an example of an apparent policy that fails to allow for a full range of religious expression in the United States," the action alert reads.

In late 2004, when Viacom operated CBS, the company rejected the UCC's gay-affirming Christian ad on its major broadcast network only, but not its cable channels, saying it considered the ad a political endorsement of same-sex marriage. Ironically, last November, Buford was honored by the Logo network and Out magazine for being among "the top 100 most interesting, influential, and newsworthy LGBT individuals." UCC general minister and president John H. Thomas also made the list as a significant straight ally.

Even though at least 17 broadcast and cable networks have rejected the "Ejector" ad, it has been accepted and is running during April on several others, including: A&E, AMC, BET, CNN, CNN en Español, Headline, Hallmark, History, TBS, TNT, E!, Lifetime, SiTV, and Azteca America.

Advocate.com © 2006 LPI Media Inc.

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