Neil G. Giuliano is an American gay rights activist. He was the former four-term Republican mayor (1994-2004) of Tempe, Arizona. He chaired the commission in charge of hosting the third debate of the 2004 United States presidential elections. He has served as President of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) since September 1, 2005.
Question: Does the media misrepresent the LGBT community?
Neil Giuliano: Well a lot of journalists have really come a long way and understand that the terminology is very important. So, for example, GLAAD was very instrumental in- for the AP Style Book to be changed over time to where now the word homosexual is really not used, except if it needs to be used in a very clinical setting. But really the gay and lesbian are the terms that are used now to talk about members of the gay and lesbian community, rather than homosexual, which immediately brings to mind people’s images of sexual relationships, and the LGBT community is not just about sexual relationships at all. So that was a very important thing. And our work with journalists over time has really helped them understand how to talk about the LGBT community.
Question: What's one thing you want to tell journalists?
Neil Giuliano: I would tell them, and ask them, to not allow people to use their religious-based views as an excuse for their own defamation and their own discrimination; because that’s really what happens. Someone will say, “Well these are my deeply held religious beliefs.” And very few reporters will push back and say, “Well are those deeply held religious beliefs coming from the same place where deeply held religious beliefs justified slavery in this country for many years?” Those deeply held religious beliefs justified women not being able to vote and women not having a place in our society. So those deeply held religious beliefs, there’s very little pushback to people about them because we’re afraid to do that. And I think we can respectfully have the conversation—and respectfully, people are entitled and should have their own deeply held religious beliefs—but those deeply held religious beliefs are not supposed to be portrayed as the view of our national government, they’re not supposed to be inherent in the way our society treats all of us. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness should be every American’s opportunity, not just those of a few people or a group of people who have deeply held religious beliefs in this corner when there are others who have deeply held religious beliefs in other corners.
Recorded on: Mar 4 2008