CNN's Ashleigh Banfield Apologizes for 'Lifestyle' Comment

CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield apologized this morning for comments she made yesterday in which she compared sexual orientation to pedophilia and incest and said being gay is “voluntary” and a “lifestyle choice”.

Yesterday, on the morning show Early Start, Banfield was addressing Kansas-pastor Cutis Knapp’s call to kill gays, when she said:

Pedophilia is not by choice, last I checked. In his sermon, Pastor Knapp blamed the Bush administration for its tolerance of gay people. Says that he claims that set the stage, in fact, for the Obama administration to endorse same-sex marriage.

Like I said: they can’t make this stuff up. Unbelievable. Speechless, right? [...]

Again, we gotta outline here, when he says “they punish incest and pedophilia”… Please. Those things are often not by choice and are crimes. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice by people; it is voluntary.

LGBT community members and allies sent countless tweets to CNN and Banfield. Blogs and news sites including Advocate.com weighed in. GLAAD contacted CNN yesterday and the network quickly announced that Banfield would speak out this morning. Ashleigh also began tweeting about her remarks.

This morning Banfield made it clear that being gay is not a choice, saying: 

I made some comments yesterday that ended up getting a lot of traction out there, not only on Twitter but elsewhere. And I want to be very, very clear about what my comments were about. I probably misspoke and mangled words, but I want to be very clear.

When I said that incest and pedophilia involve people who don’t have a choice — victims who don’t have a choice — and then said a gay relationship, you do have a choice, they are not crimes. Gay people involved in relationships are not committing any crimes at all. However, those who perpetrate incest and perpetrate pedophilia are committing crimes. I don’t know that my comments were taken in that light and I certainly hope they were, but in no way did I ever want to suggest that being gay is a choice. It is not. And I probably used the word “lifestyle choice” — not what I meant to say at all. Being gay is not a choice; being in a voluntary gay relationship is a choice. It is not a crime. So I hope that at least clears up any of the comments I made after that story of the pastor. And in no way do I agree with or stand by any of the comments that that pastor made either.

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