That GLAAD's campaign against the 'Savage Nation' show on MSNBC has itself generated strident criticism should surprise no one. Though considered by many "an act of faith," as William Fulbright so eloquently referred to it, and as GLAAD apparently grasps it, dissent seems today a much-maligned concept both within our community and nation.

Fear of terrorism, the war in Iraq and one party control of all three branches of the federal government have together helped foster an environment in this nation hostile to dissent--however loyal or reasonable it may be. Those who express unpopular or critical views regarding our nation's policies and actions are oft labeled "unpatriotic," and calls for "unity" are frequently utilized by those in power to bully opponents and suppress dissent.

The climate in the LGBT community is equally harsh. Tremendous advancement by some segments of our community has brought the requisite increase in access and insider status for our leadership, and the subsequent professionalization of our advocacy ranks. Though in many ways positive, these developments have to our detriment helped create a '"we're just like you"…at all costs' attitude that inherently leaves behind those whose differences cannot or will not be so readily sublimated and those who, like our homeless youth, detract from the desired image. Not surprisingly, tolerance of and receptivity to internal dissent has suffered.

Of this I have first-hand experience. Recently a spokesperson for a nationally prominent community advocacy organization suggested that my vocal dissent is not only divisive, but disloyal. My crime is publicizing the failure of such organizations to take up the cause of our homeless youth. Though studies consistently bear out the anecdotal experience of those in the field indicating vast numbers, and incalculable suffering, of homeless LGBT youth on our nation's streets, our national community advocacy organizations remain virtually silent and inactive on this issue--possibly the most life-threatening that faces our community today.

Ominously, some LGBT persons appear as uncomfortable with our community's organized efforts as are these organizations with internal dissent. In an article published in the Los Angeles Times on March 27th, Norah Vincent condemned GLAAD's campaign against 'Savage Nation,' angrily comparing it to the (successful) campaign in 2000 against Dr. Laura Schlessinger's show. In other words, GLAAD is doing its job as our community's chief media watchdog in calling media executives and advertisers to a higher and more responsible standard, again.

By contending that GLAAD would "deny Savage his right to free speech" and "silence him," Ms. Vincent ascribes to it incredible power and the darkest of intentions. But in actuality, GLAAD is the minority David up against the mainstream media Goliath and, I believe, is representing our interests in good faith. The Constitution simply does not serve up television shows on silver platters for Mr. Savage and Dr. Laura, just as it does not bylines for Ms. Vincent and me. In addition to numerous other considerations, editorial discretion determines the fate of our efforts.

Within a societal context of discrimination and hate violence, discretion--editorial or otherwise--was severely lacking in the decision to give Michael Savage a regularly scheduled show, just as it was previously with Dr. Laura. When those who hold the reins of power within the media provide national network platforms to individuals who have routinely targeted LGBT persons with ignorant and defamatory rhetoric, dissent is not only an appropriate response, but a necessary one as well.

Though clearly I disagree with Ms. Vincent's argument, I just as strongly respect her right to voice it, to dissent. In response to the plight of our homeless youth, I also have claimed my right to dissent. As Bell Hooks--feminist, human rights advocate and writer--stated so well: "…solidarity rooted in a commitment to progressive politics must include a space for rigorous critique, for dissent, or we are doomed to reproduce in progressive communities the very forms of domination we seek to oppose."

Dissent is, after all, born of "faith"--to me, it is a faith that we can do much better as a community and as a nation.

Glenn LeCarl resides with his life partner in Tallahassee, Florida. He welcomes comments at