Van Nuys Valley News July 19, 1977 Midler speaks on gay rights By MARILYN BECK Bette Midler has turned down Rolling Stone Magazine‘s request to do battle with Anita Bryant in a gay rights debate. She doesn’t feel she’d be equal to such a match. “She’d find passages from the Bible to try and support her position, and I’m afraid I’d end up speaking from raw emotion,” says the Divine Ms. M, who prides herself on having a large gay following and says she also takes pride in her belief that. “No one should be persecuted.” . She feels that homosexuals have become victims of the peace of our times, and makes the observation. “When we have no war. no plagues, no real concerns to take up our time, we manufacture concerns. And the gay issue has become it. Hate is a form of entertainment to some people. They pick at it. nurture it It’s a way for them to escape boredom.” She feels the point has been reached where there will now be no escaping the gay issue, “until the movement has been forced underground again. And as far as I’m concerned. Anita is responsible.” A responsibility Ms. Bryant will no doubt be pleased to accept.