American TV networks ban pro-gay Church adverts

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Citing policies to refuse controversial or religious advertising, all for major television networks in the United States have refused to air a gay-friendly advertisement for the United Church of Christ.

A 30-second commercial for the church showing a gay couple, a single mother and a disabled man flying out of their pews as an unidentified hand pushed a red “ejector” button” will begin airing on cable networks and Spanish-language channels in April.

On screen text will read: “God doesn’t reject people. Neither do we,” as a voice-over says, “The United Church of Christ. No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.”

But CBS, Fox, ABC and NBC have all said no to airing the ad, the second time they’ve rejected an ad from the United Church of Christ in as many years. A similar advertisements presented to networks in December 2004 portrayed bouncers outside a church stopping gay couples and racial minorities from entering. The networks also rejected that ad, and at least one complaint, against NBC and CBS affiliates in Miami, is pending.

United Church of Christ leader Ron Buford said that the decision of the networks to decline the latest advertisement shows they have a narrow view of acceptable images of gays and lesbians.

“They are saying, ‘You can entertain on ‘Will Grace’ and ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’, but when it comes to showing you as whole people with the church, that is going to far,” Mr Buford told the Associated Press.

A spokesperson for NBC explained the decision by saying the ad “violates our long-standing policy against airing commercials that deal with issues of public controversy.”

A spokeswoman for CBS offered a similar answer while spokespeople for ABC and FOX could not be reached by the Associated Press for comment.

CNN, USA, TNT, BET and eight other cable networks, along with three Spanish-language stations, will begin airing the advertisement on the 3rd of April 2006. Mr Buford claims that the church has spent $1.5 million on the advertisements.