While debating his opponent for U.S. Senate, Colorado’s Ken Buck made some troubling comments on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday morning. Buck, when questioned by host David Gregory, compared being gay to alcoholism and suggested that someone chooses to be gay. Buck’s opponent, Senator Michael Bennet responded by calling Buck’s comments “far outside the mainstream” of American opinion.
GLAAD worked closely with Mr. Buck in 2009, when he prosecuted Allen Andrade for the murder of 18-year-old Angie Zapata. Mr. Buck, the Weld County District Attorney, successfully prosecuted Mr. Andrade – and saw that he was convicted not only of Angie’s murder, but also a hate crime, and that he was classified by the state of Colorado as a “habitual offender.”
Prior to the trial, suspecting that the case would garner national media attention, GLAAD reached out to Mr. Buck and met with him personally – as well as other members of his staff. We worked with the office to help ensure they understood transgender people, how to talk about Angie with dignity and respect – particularly in the media. By and large, Mr. Buck and his staff in the District Attorney’s office respected Angie and her family – and treated her with respect and dignity throughout the trial and in subsequent media interviews.
Now that Mr. Buck is seeking higher political office with the backing of the Tea Party, he seems to be choosing to toss LGBT people aside. Mr. Buck showed compassion to Angie Zapata, but now to secure media attention and support from far-right political activists, he is comparing being gay to alcoholism.
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Though he later tried to defend his comments by distancing himself from comparing being gay to “disease,” Mr. Buck has not corrected his misleading and inaccurate statements.
Using a respected national media platform, like Meet the Press, to score political points with anti-gay activists by tossing around inaccurate depictions about gay people is something Mr. Buck knows is wrong. It doesn’t add anything of value to a national dialogue about LGBT issues like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, or the Employment Non-discrimination Act.
GLAAD saw firsthand that Mr. Buck the District Attorney understood the lives of LGBT people, and can be compassionate on these issues. We are incredibly disappointed that Mr. Buck the politician chose to use the media to denigrate LGBT people as the end of this election season draws near. One Colorado is calling on Mr. Buck to retract his dangerous comments. We call on media professionals covering the Colorado Senate campaign to highlight these statements.