Media Reporting on Palin's LGBT Record Misses the Mark
Despite Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin's clearly stated opposition to providing spousal benefits to same-sex couples, mainstream news media have been reporting her 2006 veto of such a bill as a sign of her support for LGBT people.
The Associated Press, in an August 29th article, wrote:
She brings a strong anti-abortion stance to the ticket and opposes gay marriage—constitutionally banned in Alaska before her time—but exercised a veto that essentially granted benefits to gay state employees and their partners.
The article makes no mention of the veto being exercised due to the law being unconstitutional, nor does it reference any of Palin's statements against offering benefits to same-sex couples.
Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK)
Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog group, has been calling attention to those media outlets (such as the Associated Press, Las Vegas Sun, CNN.com and McClatchy NewsSource) that have been making inaccurate assertions about Palin's record on LGBT issues.
They note that while Palin did in fact veto a bill in 2006 that would have prohibited the state from providing spousal benefits to gay couples:
"[S]he stated that she did so because the Alaska attorney general had advised her that the bill was unconstitutional, not because she supported spousal benefits for same-sex couples. She has also reportedly said that she would support a ballot question banning benefits for same-sex couples."
Palin made her opposition to extending the benefits to same-sex couples evident on a number of occasions. According to Media Matters, when she vetoed the bill and ensured that same-sex couples would receive benefits, her office issued a statement expressing her personal opposition to it:
The Governor’s veto does not signal any change or modification to her disagreement with the action and order by the Alaska Supreme Court. It is the Governor’s intention to work with the legislature and to give the people of Alaska an opportunity to express their wishes and intentions whether these benefits should continue.
Additionally, they note that in a 2006 questionnaire issued to Alaska's gubernatorial candidates, Palin again stated her opposition to offering spousal benefits to same-sex couples, and expressed her opposition to marriage equality, stating that if elected one of her top priorities would be:
Preserving the definition of “marriage” as defined in our constitution.
More recently, some media outlets have given attention to other allegations about Palin's anti-LGBT connections, including her church, the Wasilla Assembly of God, sponsoring an ex-gay conference and stories that indicate Palin asked if she had the authority as Mayor to ban books from Wasilla's public library, including the book "Pastor, I am Gay."
Media have a responsibility to report on how the candidates have addressed a broad range of issues, including those that affect the LGBT community. GLAAD will continue to keep a close eye on media coverage leading up to the election, and keep you informed about how they frame our issues.