Oct. 11 (RNS)--Two days after Yom Kippur, Judaism's holy day of atonement, embattled TV and radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger issued a printed apology to gays and lesbians, asking for forgiveness if her on-air comments have offended the gay community.

"I deeply regret the hurt this situation has caused the gay and lesbian community," wrote Schlessinger, host of Paramount Television's new syndicated "Dr. Laura" talk show, in a four-paragraph letter covering the back page of Daily Variety, an entertainment trade newspaper.

Some advertisers have been persuaded to stay away from the show by gay and lesbian activist groups that have targeted Schlessinger because she has described homosexuality with words including "deviant" and "biological errors" on her separately run, national radio call-in advice show.

"I have told parents consistently that all people are made in the image of (God) and that familial love is more important than any differences between them," wrote Schlessinger. "While I express my opinions from the perspective of an Orthodox Jew and a staunch defender of the traditional family, in talking about gays and lesbians, some of my words have been poorly chosen. Many people perceive them as hate speech. This fact has been personally and professionally devastating to me as well as to many others."

While the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation dismissed Schlessinger's apology as too little, too late, Rabbi Denise Eger, of the predominantly gay and lesbian (Reform) Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, Calif., described Schlessinger's contrition as a first step.

"This is a first step, but in Jewish tradition, `Teshuvah,' repentance, is more than mere words," Eger told Religion News Service. "It demands action; it demands remorse. The proof of her true commitment to her apology and whether her words are heartfelt and whether she has made repentance will be in her actions and deeds in the coming weeks and months."

While Eger added that Schlessinger's public apology appeared to be "strategically timed at Yom Kippur," the rabbi added, "I will take on faith that she says she is a religious person. If she is a real religious person, then let's see some real action."

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