Anchorwoman Alycia Lane's TV station, Channel 3, and the local gay, lesbian and transgender community go way back, according to Mark Segal, publisher of the
Philadelphia Gay News
Channel 3 was the first in the nation to ditch the Dr. Laura show seven years ago, because of host Laura Schlessinger's homophobic remarks, even though the station's network, CBS, was syndicating the program, Segal said yesterday.
"That started a wave of TV stations around the country canceling Dr. Laura," he said.
So Segal wasn't surprised when the station contacted his newspaper with its promise, in a statement published in today's Gay News, to maintain its "longstanding relationship" with the gay community despite a controversy over Lane and a homophobic remark she allegedly made.
CBS 3 is conducting its own investigation of whether Lane, who now is off the air on "vacation," called a female New York undercover cop a "dyke" and slugged her in the face early Sunday on a New York City street, the station said in the statement.
"Alycia and her lawyer have categorically denied that she used this language," said the statement from station spokeswoman Joanne Calabria.
"While Channel 3 is in the midst of its own investigation, we can state without hesitation that we find this language offensive, intolerable and inappropriate under any circumstances," Calabria said.
Segal also noted that 16 years ago, when some stations declined to do so, Channel 3 ran a commercial produced by the gay community campaigning against the re-election of then-City Councilman Franny Rafferty for "outrageous" statements about gays and AIDS.
As for Lane, Segal said, "We don't know what Alycia said.
"As I read into it, if she made those statements, she's toast," he said, but added he would await the outcome of the investigation to draw any conclusions.
Stacey Sobel of Equality Advocates of Pennsylvania, an agency promoting lesbian and gay civil rights, said: "The greatest thing her alleged remarks demonstrate is how so many people in today's society still feel it's acceptable to use derogatory terms about gay and lesbian people.
"Sometimes when these words are used, they're followed by violence or, potentially, a person losing a job," Sobel said. "These words carry real-life consequences for this community."
Rita Adessa, longtime leader of the now-defunct Lesbian and Gay Task Force and a peace activist, said, "Any epithet against any minority group is simply unacceptable.
"Who knows if they're true charges," Addessa added, noting that Lane was using her iPhone to take pictures during the New York incident and maintaining that Lane might not be to blame for the incident, contending that it was "not uncommon" for police to name the victims of their aggressive tactics as the "criminals."