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Gay Church Sues Over Canceled Ad

October 28, 1998

CHICAGO (AP) _ The nation’s biggest gay church is suing Chicago’s WGN-TV, accusing the superstation of reneging on a contract to show an infomercial about the congregation.

The half-hour video from the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas included testimonials from members, scenes of worship at the 3,000-person church and discussions with members’ families.

WGN, which is seen nationally on cable, accepted a $12,000 check for the first broadcast, according to the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Chicago.

But then the station returned the money because it felt the infomercial was ``not appropriate content for this station,″ said Christopher Wolf, a lawyer for the church.

``I think those are code words for homophobia and for anti-gay discrimination,″ he said.

Charles J. Sennet, senior counsel to WGN-TV, had no comment on the lawsuit. A spokeswoman for the station also declined to comment.

Phil Rozansky, the media buyer who arranged the deal with WGN, said the church is overreacting. ``I think what they’re trying to do is make this a political issue and a slam against gay rights,″ he said.

The Rev. Michael Piazza of the Cathedral of Hope said the video was meant to counterbalance ads from conservative Christian groups. Recently, newspapers around the country have carried full-page advertisements featuring people who say faith enabled them to overcome their homosexuality.

``The religious right has dominated the airwaves,″ Piazza said. ``What we’re about is just trying to tell people that God’s love can include them.″

Wolf said the church agreed to change the title of the infomercial from ``Holy Homosexuals″ to ``A Cathedral of Hope″ at the station’s suggestion and to make other changes as well.

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