I have trouble understanding why "Clinton Meets Gay Officials" [news story, July 29] would include remarks by a spokeswoman from the anti-gay Family Research Council disparaging the meeting. Was it because of some misguided attempt to provide balance to the article? If so, I find it hard to imagine your paper quoting a white supremacist group in coverage of the president's meetings with African American groups. I similarly cannot imagine your paper quoting Holocaust denial activists in your coverage of the Holocaust Museum.

The Family Research Council has made public statements about gay Americans that rival the hateful inaccuracy of white supremacists and antisemites. The council accused gay Americans of "embracing a culture of death" (Gary Bauer fund-raising appeal, June 1997) and suggested -- on the day of his funeral -- that Matthew Shepard was going to hell (FRC press release, Oct. 16, 1998). The council even claimed that "militant gays" were behind the shootings at Columbine High School (FRC "Culture Facts," April 22, 1999).

Your paper owes its readers an explanation why coverage of President Clinton's meetings with just one minority group -- gay Americans -- is treated to "balance" with quotes by a hate group.

-- George F. Shevlin IV