Dr. Laura Apologizes to Homosexuals

Thursday, October 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Laura Schlessinger used the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday — the Day of Atonement — to apologize to gays and lesbians for ``poorly chosen'' words she said have been perceived as hate speech.

``On the Day of Atonement, Jews are commanded to seek forgiveness from people we have hurt,'' the radio and TV talk show host, who is Jewish, said in a newspaper ad. ``I deeply regret the hurt this situation has caused the gay and lesbian community.''

The ad, in the form of a letter signed by Schlessinger, was included in a special ``Gay Hollywood'' edition of the trade paper Daily Variety. The Wednesday issue examines progress by gays and lesbians in the entertainment industry.

Yom Kippur, during which Jews fast and seek forgiveness for sins, was Monday.

Schlessinger has been criticized by gay rights activists for referring to homosexuality as a ``biological error'' and ``deviant.'' In March, she said she was sorry her radio comments have hurt people.

Her words of contrition then and now failed to placate her critics.

``Laura Schlessinger once again blames others for the impact of her rhetoric, refusing to take responsibility for her precisely chosen, scientifically inaccurate descriptions of gay and lesbian lives,'' said Joan M. Garry, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

``The anger Schlessinger's words have caused is too great and too profound to simply go away after a qualified admission of some guilt,'' Garry said in a statement.

Incensed by her characterization of homosexuality, gay rights activists tried to stop television stations from broadcasting her new ``Dr. Laura'' TV talk show, which debuted in September. In the controversy's wake, several top advertisers dropped sponsorship of the show.

Although Schlessinger's radio program is popular, her TV show has earned lackluster ratings so far. Last month, production was briefly halted in order to retool the show.

The tart-tongued Schlessinger, who holds a doctorate in physiology and offers her listeners advice and lectures on morality, headlined her Daily Variety ad, ``A heartfelt message from Dr. Laura Schlessinger.''

``While I express my opinions from the perspective of an Orthodox Jew and a staunch defender of the traditional family, in talking about gays and lesbians some of my words were poorly chosen,'' the ad says.

``Many people perceive them as hate speech. This fact has been personally and professionally devastating to me as well as to many others,'' she said.

Paramount Television Group, which is syndicating the ``Dr. Laura'' TV show, has said it is committed to presenting social issues without creating or contributing to an atmosphere of hate or hurt.