The Post displayed a serious lack of concern in reporting news with its decision to forgo mention of Marion Barry's attendence at the D.C. Gay Activists Alliance Inaugural Ball and his commitment there both to continue to support gay rights and to appoint openly gay women and men to his administration.

Recently, Post readers got: a sensational and lengthy article purporting that "homosexuals" posed an ecological threat to a local bird sanctuary; reviews of gay community benefits more suggestive of romps with decadence; and coverage of accused mass murderer John Gacy saying he is a "self-admitted homosexual" -- omitting that he was twice married, father of two and, from what one reads, never had a gay relationship in his life.

Such coverage deserves to be criticized on its own, but when the omitted news items favorable to the gay community are considered, The Post has more to answer for than sloppy journalism.

Post readers would not know, for instance, that this year three major federal agencies extended the rights of gays to hold security clearances, continuing the trend of full-employment rights for gays in government and private industry. Readers were given one-line coverage of the successful battle for gay rights in the recent Seattle referendum, with no mention of the effective role of the gay community there in winning friends while pundits counseled a low profile following earlier defeats, which were extensively covered in The Post.

The establishment of gay churches and fellowships within mainline churches far outweigh, and at a more personal level, Anita Bryant's success with major churches, but goes unreported. Washington is home for the first black gay organization, now nationwide, which is successfully raising black gay visibility in the white, black and gay communities; it is unreported.

Nor would Post readers know of D.C. gay community efforts in the face of continued murders, rapes and assaults of gay men and women near local bars -- people frighteningly viewed as "easy" and acceptable victims, and the cooperation of the D.C. police and mayor with the gay community.

It is not too much to say that the emergence of a vital gay community, involved in pursuits beyond disco and finding partners, has gone unnoted by The Post. Mayor Barry sought gay support for his election, gay talent to be put to work on his transition teams, wants gays in his administration and has established the first liaison in the mayor's office to the gay community. That did not happen in a vacuum; it was the result of hard work by gays to be recognized beyond stereotypes.

The question of openly gay people participating fully in society remains a sensitive and emotional issue. It is precisely the type of question best served by fair and balanced coverage so that people may at least be informed about who gay people are and what is at issue.

Certainly ignoring an important segment of the community is no credit to The Post; the fact that this particular community also is linked to political, social and religious questions raises serious doubts about The Post's commitment to journalism.