Her prominence has ebbed and flowed over the years, but her commitment to stigmatizing LGBT people has remained. And now, with her latest comments connecting gay male affection with the "love" that convicted rapist and kidnapper Ariel Castro had for his victims, she is back in the spotlight in a major way.
I'm talking about Sandy Rios, American Family Radio host and Fox News contributor. She is the latest addition to GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project:
-- Equated the love shared by two men to the “love” that kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro had for the young women he kept captive as slaves; when confronted, doubled down
-- When Supreme Court overturned criminal bans on gay sex, Rios described it as a "sad moment in American history;" said it was "an immoral act" on par with "the Dred Scott decision declaring slaves two-thirds persons"
-- Says (at 5:52) "'gay' is the wrong name"..." because "it's broken hearts and disease"
-- Once equated "leaving the gay lifestyle" with quitting stopping, stopping an affair, or quitting pornography
-- Protested a company's choice to use Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson, objecting to "the private choices she has publicly flaunted"
-- Claimed: "When homosexual men get together, they don’t look for activities to enjoy common interests, they look for activities to find and expedite sex." Added: "Gay bars aren’t for drinking…it’s all about hooking up anywhere…everywhere…with as many people as possible"
-- Declared secular Jews to be "the worst enemies of the country"
-- Claims (at 2:40) that "you can stop being gay" then says (3:25) that celibacy is better than "acting on the homosexuality or adultery or pedophilia"
-- Equated a federal marriage ban that still allowed for civil unions with a ban on slavery that still allowed for chattel: "The case I continue to make is what it would be like if we were sitting here, 150 years ago, and we said that we wanted an amendment to outlaw slavery, but if states want to have 'owned people,' they just have to call it chattel. Just don’t call it marriage, or don’t call it slavery. An amendment that protects marriage in name only is troublesome to us and does not go far enough."
-- While president of CWA, constantly promoted materials telling gays to "leave the lifestyle." Here's one such promotion.
-- Wrote of gay advocacy groups: "[O]rganizations formed around gay advocacy are at odds with the moral principles that bring sanity and clarity to it all."
-- When NY gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino said he didn't want kids "brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option,” Rios called him "the hero of this race"
-- Admonished Republicans who support marriage equality, predicting that "the other side of this sordid story" will prevail: "One can only look to Massachusetts to see the devastating effects of gay marriage and the LGBT movement on public schools where children are encouraged to change genders without parental approval or knowledge, and public school girls’ bathrooms are accessible to boys who think they are girls. If this madness is what [Laura] Bush, Colin Powell, or Dick Cheney want for their grandchildren in the misguided notion of “fairness” then so be it. But when one day, the other side of this sordid story is told, they will be glad the wisdom of Phyllis Schlafly prevailed and not their fickle, feckless leadership in dangerous times."
-- Demanded that the American public "has a right to know if candidates are gay," equating that information with a Republican senator's adulterous affair
-- Frequently pushes accustations that President Obama is a communist
-- Was member of an extreme coalition known as the "AIDS Truth Coalition," designed to stigmatize and blame gay people. This coalition faulted the U.S. Secretary of State for vowing to fight AIDS while simultaneously acknowleding U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator's gay relationship
-- Boycotted McDonald's because of their support for LGBT consumers
-- Said the Supreme Court's decision of marriage "felt like a knife had been stuck in my heart in several places;" said she was "grieving" over it
Sandy is a particularly compelling commentator because she has managed to cross over in ways that others have not. She is totally a part of the very, very, very far-fringe wing of Peter LaBarbera, Linda Harvey, and some of the more extreme voices against anything LGBT-related, including our very existance. However, she still mananages to make appearances on mainstream cable TV shows like The O'Reilly Factor—something that few of those other names manage to do with any frequency.
She also plays a strong local role in her home state of Illinois. Both publicly nad behind the scenes, Sandy has been working with fellow anti-LGBT activsts to fight legislation like the marriage equality bill currently working its way through the legislator. This year she even recorded robocalls on behalf of Family PAC encouraging her fellow Illinoisians to go after lawmakers who support equality:
So don't think of her as just a commentator—Ms. Rios is very much a lobbyist and anti-LGBT activist. All the more reason why we want to keep track of her penchant for saying truly outrageous things; all the more reason why we insist the media accurately represent Ms. Rios and her extreme views.