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Ted Haggard, Larry Brinkin, And Glaring Media Bias

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

According to published reports, when Larry Brinkin was arrested two weeks ago, the police found “images of year-old infants subjected to sodomy and oral sex, and perverse racial comments (Brinkin’s email: ‘I loved especially the 2 year old n----- getting nailed. Hope you’ll continue so I can see what the little blond b---- is going to get. White Power! White Supremacy! White D--- Rules!’).” Yet the media has barely reported this terribly disturbing incident.

But, you ask, who was Larry Brinkin? He was “a central figure in the gay rights movement,” a man who was so influential that, “The San Francisco board of supervisors actually gave a ‘Larry Brinkin Week’ in February 2010 upon his retirement.” It was Brinkin who first used the term “domestic partnerships” in a legal dispute, marking a watershed moment in gay activist history, yet news of his alleged crimes against infants and children, not to mention his alleged White Supremacist leanings, has received very little media attention.

Is there a double standard here? Imagine what the media would be doing if Brinkin had been a conservative Christian leader.

When evangelical leader Ted Haggard fell, the media was quick to pounce, suggesting that this exposed the corrupt nature of evangelical Christianity as a whole. And media leaders have done this repeatedly whenever there has been a scandal connected to an evangelical (or Catholic) leader, and the news is blared from the headlines. But where, I ask you, is the outrage or the front page news when a gay leader commits atrocities such as those allegedly committed by Larry Brinkin? And why isn’t the media claiming that Brinkin’s transgressions expose the corrupt nature of gay activism as a whole?

The failure of a Christian leader is considered endemic and representative; the failure of a gay leader is considered an aberrant exception. Why the unequal treatment?

Personally, I do believe that ministry leaders should be held to high standards, and if we fall short in a serious, public way, we deserve the disappointment (and even scorn) that comes with it. After all, we are supposed to be moral and spiritual examples, even serving as faithful representatives of Jesus, and we have no business preaching morality while living in immorality. And while I absolutely believe in God’s mercy and the possibility of restoration (we all need His mercy), I do agree that the stakes are high and that there will often be heavy fallout when a prominent Christian leader sins in a serious and public way.

My question, though, has to do with Larry Brinkin, who allegedly enjoyed watching infants as they were being sexually abused (yes, infants!). Where is the national indignation? Why isn’t the name of Larry Brinkin on the lips of every news commentator in the nation? And why, two weeks after his arrest, does a Google search for his name yield just 111,000 hits? More importantly, why hasn’t his arrest caused the public to stand up and say, “We must do something to stop the vicious exploitation of little children!”?

The answer is that Brinkin’s arrest has received relatively little media attention because he was a gay activist leader, not a conservative Christian leader, and there is no hiding the mainstream media’s pro-gay, anti-conservative Christian bias. And because Brinkin’s arrest has not been widely reported, the general public has not been confronted afresh with the horrors of child pornography.

(On another note, there was a shocking case in England a few years ago where social workers had evidence that a gay activist couple was sexually abusing the boys in their foster care, but the social workers were afraid to report the couple lest they be accused of homophobia. Not surprisingly, the case received limited coverage in the UK and almost no coverage here in the States. What if this had been a conservative Christian foster care couple?)

To be sure, Ted Haggard was a better known figure than Larry Brinkin, but there have been other Christian leaders of much less notoriety than Haggard (like an otherwise unknown Catholic priest), and that didn’t stop the media from making their failings into a national scandal. Brinkin, for his part, was no smalltime player, with the San Francisco Examiner describing him as an “iconic San Francisco gay activist who brought the nation’s first domestic partnership lawsuit in 1982.” And he was, after all, a respected, long-term leader within the Human Rights Campaign, the world’s largest gay activist organization. Why hasn’t the HRC been tarred and feathered the way evangelicals (or Catholics) are after one of their leaders falls? Why the inconsistency?

To this day, the name of Ted Haggard, is used to mock evangelical leaders (in the form of emails and comments we frequently receive, telling us that we will be the next Ted Haggard) while the name of Larry Brinkin is being forgotten as quickly as possible. Why the double standard?

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