The largest gay and lesbian church in the U.S. filed suit Tuesday against a Chicago television station after the station agreed to televise an infomercial produced by the church and then later withdrew its offer.
The church believes WGN-TV in Chicago reneged on their agreement to air the infomercial “based on their views that this is not appropriate content for those stations,” church lawyer Christopher Wolf said. “I think those are code words for homophobia and for anti-gay discrimination,” he added.
The church worked on the production of the infomercial for two years before marketing it to various cable stations throughout the country. Church leaders believed their infomercial could serve to balance out the advertising by conservative Christian groups, such as the full-page newspaper advertisements which have included former homosexuals stating they had “overcome” their homosexuality.
“We just wanted to make our voice heard against the overwhelming onslaught of people using the media to say how bad gay people are,” Rev. Michael Piazza said. “We wanted mostly to reach out to lesbian and gay teenagers, but also people living in rural areas, to tell them there is this possibility that you can be gay and Christian, there is this possibility that you are a child of God.”
Most cable companies declined to broadcast the infomercial. WGN-TV, however, agreed to air the advertisement five times and accepted a check from the church in July 1998. A week later, the TV station canceled the agreement and returned the check.
WGN-TV representatives declined to comment on the lawsuit or to provide an explanation for the company’s actions.