The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ( GLAAD ) , a national media watchdog group, has expressed its disappointment that internationally syndicated 'Focus on the Family' radio program, founded by Focus on the Family ministry founder James Dobson, has been voted into Chicago's National Radio Hall of Fame.
The anti-gay conservative's program was nominated by the National Radio Hall of Fame & Museum Steering Committee for the national category. The steering committee includes radio executives, academics, trade journalists and others appointed by the president of the Museum of Broadcast Communications ( MBC ) , which is located in Chicago and home to the National Radio Hall of Fame. According to Bruce DuMont, president of the MBC, the general public can also recommend nominees. The public was allowed to vote for the 2008 National Radio Hall of Fame for free online. This was the first year voting was free and completely open to the public.
The Focus on the Family ministry, which is headquartered in Colorado, was founded by Dobson in the mid-1970s. His internationally syndicated radio program, also called 'Focus on the Family,' began in 1978.
Over the years, Dobson has made numerous anti-gay statements. Most recently, he attacked California's gay-marriage decision, claiming same-sex marriage will destroy the world. Dobson also founded an 'ex-gay' ministry called Love Won Out.
DuMont told Windy City Times that when it comes to nominations, 'There is no discussion of politics.' According to DuMont, a nominee's political stance is not considered. Instead, basic criteria must be filled, such as how long a program has been on the air, geographic location, etc., depending on the category. Nominees can be inducted in one of four categories.
He added that in terms of how long 'Focus on the Family' has been on the air, Dobson has a 'remarkable record.'
'Obviously, what he says is not germane to the discussion,' DuMont added.
DuMont also said that even though the public was made aware of the nominees in May, it wasn't until around July 10, a few days before the deadline to vote, that he started receiving e-mail objections to 'Focus on the Family.'
DuMont called it 'unfortunate' that the museum has been attacked because of the induction, especially because the process is open to the public.
In a statement, GLAAD president Neil Giuliano said, 'For 20 years James Dobson has used his expansive, well funded media platform to perpetuate false and misleading information which contribute to putting gay and lesbian families in harm's way. GLAAD urges the media to scrutinize and shed light on Dobson's record of inaccurate claims about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and include an in-depth analysis of his distorted and defamatory statements.'
Controversial anti-gay radio personality Dr. Laura Schlessinger was also nominated, but was not chosen as an inductee.
A ceremonial award dinner will take place in Chicago Sat., Nov. 8. At least one gay-rights group is planning to protest the event. Truth Wins Out ( TWO ) announced that it will protest the annual awards dinner 'to inform the world of Dobson's shameful and bigoted record.'
'It is an affront for the Radio Hall of Fame to honor James Dobson, a right wing demagogue, who built his radio empire on the back of gay and lesbian people,' said TWO Executive Director Wayne Besen in a recently released statement.
TWO had initiated a protest and petition drive effort before national voting for the Radio Hall of Fame was over.