HOLLYWOOD -- The historic gates of Paramount Pictures in Hollywood provided the backdrop Tuesday morning for a protest of the studio's plans to distribute a daytime television show hosted by radio personality Laura Schlessinger.
About 200 demonstrators representing gay and lesbian organizations rallied against what they perceive to be anti-gay rhetoric espoused by Schlessinger on her radio program, with the peaceful crowd spilling into the street and causing police to shut down traffic on Melrose Avenue. Roughly two dozen protesters supporting Schlessinger assembled across the street, at times chanting, ''Protect Dr. Laura, protect free speech.''
Paramount's decision to turn the nationally syndicated advice maven into a TV personality in the fall has set off a flurry of reaction from gays and lesbians. In her daily exploration of morality and ethics, Schlessinger has referred to gays as ''a biological error,'' advocated controversial reparative therapies and questioned providing rights to those who engage in ''deviant sexual behavior.''
David Lee, co-creator of the Paramount-produced NBC comedy hit ''Frasier,'' was among those who spoke at Tuesday's rally. He stressed the campaign was directed at the studio, not Schlessinger's right to express her views.
''We are protesting against Paramount,'' Lee said, adding that he is ''really ashamed of the studio I work with.''
Joan M. Garry, executive director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, also argued that the goal was not censorship, but closed by telling Paramount, ''It's time to accept your responsibility and drop this show.''
''There is no constitutional right to have a television show,'' stated Peter Teague, executive director of the San Francisco-based Horizons Foundation, a gay and lesbian community foundation.
Those on hand in support of Schlessinger voiced their own disenchantment with Paramount, saying studio officials have thus far been unresponsive to their requests for a meeting regarding the issue.
Paramount officials declined comment but in a statement reiterated their respect for the right to protest as well as the studio's support for civil rights.
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