While debating his opponent for US Senate, Colorado’s Ken Buck made some troubling comments on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday morning. Buck, when questioned by host David Gregory, compared being gay to alcoholism and suggested that someone chooses to be gay. Buck’s opponent, Senator Michael Bennet responded by calling Buck’s comments “far outside the mainstream” of American opinion.
In 2009, GLAAD worked closely with Mr. Buck, the Weld County District Attorney, when he successfully prosecuted Allen Andrade for the murder of 18-year-old transgender woman Angie Zapata. During meetings with GLAAD, Mr. Buck made it clear that his priority was to prosecute Andrade as a murderer and that he was willing to use any tool – including the hate crime statute – to ensure Andrade stayed behind bars for the rest of his life. GLAAD met with the District Attorney and his staff to help ensure that they understood transgender people and how to talk about Angie with dignity and respect – particularly in the media. By and large, the District Attorney’s office respected Angie and her family and treated her with respect and dignity throughout the trial and in subsequent media interviews.
Now that Mr. Buck is seeking higher political office with the backing of the Tea Party, he has been downright disrespectful of LGBT people. Mr. Buck’s comparing being gay to being an alcoholic is more than just disrespectful, it’s dangerous. As GLAAD’s Senior Director of Media Programs, Rashad Robinson, said in an editorial earlier this month – “the negative portrayal of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and the rhetoric of anti-gay activists, especially in politics and in the media, not only tells these kids they matter less than their peers, it tells all young people that those who are (or are perceived to be) gay or bi are different or simply not good enough.” Comments like Mr. Buck’s, intended to score political points, serve no purpose other than to encourage bullying,
Though he later tried to defend his comment by saying he “wasn’t talking about being gay as a disease,” Mr. Buck has not corrected his misleading and inaccurate statements.
Using a respected national media platform like Meet the Press to throw around inaccurate depictions of gay people is something Mr. Buck knows is wrong. It doesn’t add anything of value to a national dialogue about LGBT issues like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and it only encourages the anti-gay activity that the recent suicide tragedies have created a greater awareness of.
GLAAD saw firsthand that Mr. Buck the District Attorney had the ability to speak about LGBT people with respect. We are incredibly disappointed that Mr. Buck the politician chose to use the media to denigrate LGBT people as the end of this election season draws near. We call on media professionals covering the Colorado Senate campaign to hold Mr. Buck accountable for the comments he makes about LGBT people, and we join One Colorado in calling on Mr. Buck to retract his dangerous comments.