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Ellen “Coming Out” Episode to Air April 30; ABC Refuses to Air Lesbian and Gay Rights Commercial

On April 30th, Ellen Degeneres’s television character Ellen will reveal that she is a lesbian. The hour-long episode, which will air in one or two segments, includes guest appearances by Oprah Winfrey, k.d. lang, Melissa Etheridge and Billy Bob Thornton. Immediately following the episode, Degeneres will make her own sexuality clear during an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC’s Prime Time Live.

Heralded for its progressiveness in airing the first sitcom to feature a lesbian or gay lead character, in an ironic twist ABC Network has refused to air an ad from a lesbian and gay rights group. The ad shows two co-workers surprised that their company has fired a fellow worker for being a lesbian. It is designed to garner support for a federal law banning job discrimination to persons based on sexual orientation. David Smith, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign commented that ABC, “determined that an actual depiction of a fact of life for gay people in this country falls under the judgment of controversial advertising. We strongly disagree with that judgment on their part.” The Campaign has found 59 of the 79 local markets are willing to run the ad and will do so during local ad time.

Sources:

The Nando Times - March 21, 1997; Reuters March 21, 1997

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