Monday, August 22, 2005

Birch Takes on Buchanan in TV Shoutfest

(Link) Former HRC Head Elizabeth Birch's new talk show on Here! TV promises to be chockful of "shouting down the fundies" fun!

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
By David Bauder, Chicago Sun-Times

NEW YORK -- For the second episode of her new talk show, Elizabeth Birch welcomed a guest she knew many in her audience would have preferred shouting at instead of listening to.

That was precisely the point.

Birch, a veteran gay and lesbian rights activist, had frequently been matched against Pat Buchanan on the kind of cable news debates that favor the quick and the loud. She wanted conversation that promoted understanding.

Her hourlong talk with Buchanan can be seen starting Friday on Here, a premium network aimed at gays and lesbians that's available in nearly half of the nation's homes with television. The personable Birch is a true Washington insider, a lawyer who spent 10 years running the Human Rights Campaign advocacy group before quitting in 2004 to help raise, with her partner, 6-year-old twins.

Buchanan, a Catholic and former Republican presidential candidate who believes homosexual behavior is wrong, will probably never agree with Birch. But he considers her a friend, and he saw this as "an opportunity to ... de-demonize ourselves.''

On the show, they went back two decades to when Buchanan urged closing gay bathhouses and wrote a newspaper column saying gays and lesbians ''have declared war on human nature, and nature is exacting an awful retribution.''

From Buchanan's perspective, the bathhouses were dens of iniquity where disease was spread. Birch felt they were an important gathering place for homosexuals.

''It's like saying, 'We want to get to all the Irish, shut down St. Patty's day,' '' Birch said.

''Well, if there's poison in the beer, you shut down St. Patty's day,'' Buchanan shot back.

In another exchange, Birch asked Buchanan whether he knew many gay people. He said he knew many, including some when he worked in the Nixon White House, whose orientation he didn't learn until much later.

''There's many, many, many more, it seems to me,'' he said. ''They're all over the place!''

Replied Birch: ''We came out.''

Their discussion was cordial, if occasionally uncomfortable. No minds were changed, but Birch said she sees a ''softer heart'' than she did during the AIDS crisis. She said she was ''tremendously grateful'' Buchanan was a guest.