Last edited: February 14, 2005

VOA Head: Homosexuality ‘Morally Disordered’

Robert Reilly Served as a Visiting Fellow with the Heritage Foundation, a Conservative Think Tank

Washington Blade, October 12, 2001
Washington, DC

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 they’re 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 nation’s largest gay political group, called Reilly’s comments to the Post "a very good sign." But the official, Winnie Stachelberg, called Reilly’s 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.

Reilly’s 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 what’s 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 Reilly’s views on gays and gay civil rights to either Reilly himself or the Broadcasting Board.

"It’s 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;;

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