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Gay Group Slams Letterman Over Transgender Joke

Human Rights Coalition says “Late Show” gag on Obama appointment “incendiary”

David Letterman is under fire over a joke. Again.

On Tuesday’s “Late Show,” announcer Alan Kalter interrupted Letterman during his monologue when the host mentioned that Amanda Simpson, President Obama’s appointment to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, is a transgender woman.

"What?!” Kalter shouted. “Amanda?! Amanda used to be a dude?! Oh my God!!"

In a letter to CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler, Allyson Robinson of the Human Rights Campaign — the nation’s largest gay rights group — called the gag "inappropriate and incendiary.”

"Your skit affirmed and encouraged a prejudice against transgender Americans that keeps many from finding jobs, housing, and enjoying freedoms you and your writers take for granted every day," Robinson wrote. "[The joke has] been used as a defense in nearly every hate crime perpetrated against transgender people that has come to trial."

Letterman has faced criticism for gender-related material before. Last year, Sarah Palin and some women’s groups slammed him for a series of jokes about one of Palin’s daughters:

"One awkward moment for Sarah Palin at the Yankee game," Letterman said, "during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez."

Letterman insisted he was joking about then-pregnant 18-year-old Bristol Palin, not Willow, the then-Alaskan governor’s 14-year-old daughter. Sarah Palin called Letterman "sexually perverted."

One thing I will say about Kalter: that’s what his “Late Show” character. He’s supposed to be this unassuming announcer who crosses into dark, sexually-perverted territory he’s given the chance.