An 'abomination': Mystery ad shocks <I>Progress</I> readers

"A detestable act. An abomination. Wickedness. Disgusting. Gross sin!" Such was the copy of a quarter-page ad that greeted Daily Progress readers October 24 and 25.

And to hammer home their point, the anonymous purchasers of the ad turned to Leviticus, the prime Bible passage cited by Christians opposed to homosexuality: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination."

"I'm outraged by it," says Progress reader Diane Taylor, who called the newspaper to complain. Taylor says she spoke to advertising director John Kimbel, and she claims he told her that he had just as many calls from people congratulating the paper for running the ad. Kimbel declined to comment to The Hook, and referred calls to Progress publisher Lawrence McConnell.

"I was really offended and felt they crossed the line," says Taylor. "On Monday, it appeared directly across from the editorial page. It didn't say it was a paid ad. I felt the Daily Progress was making an editorial comment."

Jeanne Fradianni also called the Progress and threatened to cancel her subscription.

She says she was told the ad was purchased by "Father's Love." A Google search finds that an Ontario-based group called Father's Heart Communications uses the moniker "Father's Love Letter." But a representative from Father's Heart says they had nothing to do with the ad.

McConnell did not respond to a request for confirmation by press time.

"This is outrageous," says Fradianni. "What if the Ku Klux Klan wanted to put an ad in and use the N-word? I'm not gay, but I'm still offended."

"I thought it was a detestable ad," says Claire Kaplan. "Who put it in there? There's no way to contact the individual or group. I think the Daily Progress has the right to reject an ad."

In May, that's just what the Progress did– initially at least. In that incident, the daily declined an announcement ad for the wedding of two women. Later the paper said that it would print gay wedding ads– but not on the same pages as the hetero couples.

As a result of reader calls, Progress publisher McConnell says in an email that if the ad runs again, the paper will require that the name of the organization purchasing it be included.

"As a matter of policy," McConnell writes, "we will require advocacy advertisements to carry identification of the organization or individual paying for these ads."

"This ad is so extreme, so venomous, it makes people go 'eww,'" says Kaplan. "And they don't identify themselves. I think that's cowardly."

This anonymous ad caused the
Progress  to change course.