June 10, 2008
O'Reilly Dis-Honored for His LGBT Views

Pride Board President Mikayla Connell Spars on Air with Bill O’Reilly over His Coverage of LGBT Issues

NEW YORK ‑ Mikayla Connell, board president of the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Celebration Committee presented newscaster and political pundit Bill O’Reilly with this year’s Pink Brick, an annual 'award' given each year to a person or institution deemed to have caused significant harm to the LGBT community.

Connell delivered the brick to O’Reilly in person on his popular show, The O’Reilly Factor, this past Wednesday, June 4.

"What did I do to offend you and your group?” O'Reilly asked of Connell after receiving the award.

"This is a community award so the community thinks that you have portrayed, unfairly, the LGBT community," Connell said.

O'Reilly pressed Connell for specific examples of the harm that warranted his receipt of the Pink Brick. Over the course of the 5 minute interview, Connell and O'Reilly sparred about a number of LGBT topics and his coverage, including his widely criticized piece from June 2007 about a supposed national surge in pink-pistol-toting lesbian gangs.

O'Reilly claimed incorrectly in his segment with Connell that the lesbian gangs piece aired five to six years ago. O'Reilly, while acknowledging that the story "was not correct," attempted to attribute the false information disseminated in the lesbian gangs coverage to his then-guest Rod Wheeler. Connell later noted that the O'Reilly Factor looped video footage in the background of a group of women fighting, which had no connection to the incident that O'Reilly had described. "It was heterosexual women fighting at a beach over a man," Connell retorted.

Connell also cited O'Reilly's recent guest Megan Kelly's inaccurate description of the California Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. Kelly had said on a prior O'Reilly show that the court "created another fundamental right that had never existed before." She added, "they are making this stuff up out of whole cloth."

Connell took issue with Kelly's statement, saying the fundamental right to marriage was created in the 1947 Perez decision, heard by the same court, which struck down the ban on interracial marriage.

O'Reilly eschewed responsibility for both Kelly's and Wheeler's misstatements saying, "I had nothing to do with it. I don't censor Megan Kelly. It's not my job to denigrate her opinion unless it's fallacious, and I don't think it is. I think it's an opinion."

"Are you not going to take responsibility for the content of your show?" Connell asked. "These people are on your show – you don't correct them.”

“The O'Reilly Factor made a positive step in inviting San Francisco Pride to appear on the show to discuss O'Reilly's receipt of the Pink Brick. On behalf of our community, we welcomed the opportunity to convey the community's deep disappointment with Bill O'Reilly's consistent misrepresentations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” Connell said following her appearance. “While we thank Mr. O'Reilly for engaging us in a spirited discussion, it must be noted that it is more than just O'Reilly's guests who make incorrect claims about LGBTs. O'Reilly has a consistent record of skewing positive representations of LGBT people. For example, Mr. O'Reilly accused the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence of invading a church; however, that particular church is open to all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  The Sisters are actually members of that church.  There was no invasion –- there was an invitation.  With as much exposure as the O'Reilly Factor receives, Bill O'Reilly has an obligation to uphold responsible journalism over sensationalism and fear-mongering."

The public makes nominations for the Pink Brick each January and then selects the winner by public vote in March. Past recipients have included Arnold Schwarzenegger for his veto of a same-sex marriage bill and President George W. Bush for his support of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage.

Video of O'Reilly's full interview with Connell can be seen at SFPride.org.

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About San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee (SFLGBTPCC):
The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee (SFPride.org) is a non-profit membership organization founded to produce the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration & Parade. With its office located at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, SFLGBTPCC is dedicated to education, commemoration of LGBT heritage and celebration of LGBT culture and liberation. A world leader in the Pride movement, SFLGBTPCC is also a grant-giving organization through its Community Partners Program. Since 1997, SFLGBTPCC has granted over $1.2 million dollars from proceeds of the Pride Celebration and Parade to local not-for-profit LGBT organizations and those organizations serving the HIV/AIDS and breast cancer communities.

About the 2008 San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration & Parade:
This year marks the 38th anniversary of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration and Parade. This year's theme is "United by Pride, Bound for Equality" and the event will be held over the weekend of June 28 and 29, 2008. With over 200 parade contingents, 300 exhibitors, and 18 entertainment stages and venues, San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration and Parade is the largest LGBT gathering in the nation. For more information please visit our website at SFPride.org.

Press Contact:
Kim McCollister
media [at] sfpride.org
415-864-0831