VOA Head: Homosexuality Morally Disordered
Robert Reilly Served as a Visiting Fellow with the Heritage
Foundation, a Conservative Think Tank
October 12, 2001
By Lou Chibbaro Jr.
The man President Bush named Oct. 2 as new director of the Voice of America
described homosexuality as a "morally disordered" condition in a
1996 article he wrote for the National Review, a conservative magazine.
Robert R. Reilly, a social and religious conservative who warned in the
article that gays were among those engaged in a "culture war"
against traditional American values, told the Washington Post on Oct. 9 that
his social and political views are irrelevant to his ability to run the VOA.
"I find it personally and morally repugnant to discriminate against
someone because theyre a homosexual," the Post quoted him as saying.
Reilly told the Post he would "avidly enforce the anti-discrimination
statutes that apply to this position."
An official with the Human Rights Campaign, the nations largest gay
political group, called Reillys comments to the Post "a very good
sign." But the official, Winnie Stachelberg, called Reillys views in
the 1996 National Review article troubling. Stachelberg said the article
raises questions about how he will handle news about gay civil rights in a
government agency charged with presenting information about the United States
to the rest of the world.
Reillys appointment comes at a time when the U.S.-led military action
against the Taliban government in Afghanistan has prompted gay activists to
point to the often deadly persecution of gays by the Taliban and the harsh
treatment of gays by other Islamic nations that are supporting the U.S.
campaign against terrorism.
The post of director of the VOA does not require Senate confirmation.
However, it does require approval by a six-member Broadcasting Board of
Governors, which oversees the VOA. The board was scheduled to meet with Reilly
Wednesday, Oct. 10.
The VOA, created in 1942, is a government-run broadcasting service aimed at
presenting news about the United States and other nations in an
"accurate, objective, and comprehensive" way, according to VOA
literature. "VOA broadcasts over 900 hours of news, informational,
educational, and cultural programs every week to an audience of some 91
million worldwide," the literature says. The programming is produced and
broadcast in English and 52 other languages through radio, satellite
television, and the Internet, says the literature.
Reilly has worked for VOA since 1990 as the producer and host of a weekly
VOA television and radio program on foreign policy issues called "On the
Line." Prior to joining VOA, he served as a visiting fellow with the
Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and worked in several foreign
policy-related posts in the Reagan administration.
In his 1996 National Review article, entitled "Culture of Vice,"
Reilly cited the gay civil rights movement and efforts to keep abortion legal
as examples of how "we replace the reality of moral order" through a
rationalization that asserts that "bad is good."
"Since only the act of sodomy differentiates an active homosexual from
a heterosexual," Reilly wrote, "homosexuals want government and
society to affirm that sodomy is morally equivalent to the marital act. Coming
out of the closet can only mean an assent on the level of moral principle
to what would otherwise be considered morally disordered."
"If sodomy is a moral disorder," he continued, "it cannot be
legitimately advanced on the legal or civil level. On the other hand, if it is
a highly moral act, it should serve as the basis for marriage, family
(adoption), and community."
Reilly asserted that the "homosexual cause moved naturally from a plea
for tolerance to cultural conquest."
"A society can withstand any number of persons who try to advance
their own moral disorders as public policy," he wrote. "But it
cannot survive once it adopts the justification for those moral disorders as
its own. This is whats at stake in the culture war."
Reilly told the Post that in his 11 years at VOA, no one has ever charged
him with engaging in discrimination. He said that prior to joining VOA, he
wrote music reviews for Catholic publications and interviewed gays associated
with the music industry, including gay composers.
"Some of the greatest composers of the 20th century . are professed
homosexuals," the Post quoted him as saying. "Now, how would I have
been able to operate in that cultural milieu if I were what some people
perhaps might like to assume, a homophobe?"
Stachelberg said HRC will ask members of Congress supportive of gay civil
rights to raise questions about Reillys views on gays and gay civil rights
to either Reilly himself or the Broadcasting Board.
"Its important that we get a clarification," said Stachelberg.
"Those comments he made in 1996 are unsupportable."
- INFO: Voice of America, 330 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20237;
(202) 619-2538; fax: (202) 619-1241; www.voa.gov;
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