Tape Reveals Real Mission
of the Christian Coalition
ccording to various press reports, a tape was released re-
cently of a closed-door session at the Christian Coalition conference in Atlanta. We've included the website for a CNN article which quotes a handful of Pat Robertson's more overt remarks. In one of them, he clearly identifies that the Christian Coalition will play a key role in the next presidential election: "My dear friend, I want to hold out to you the possibility of selecting the next president of the United States, because I think that's what we have in this organization." In another remark quoted by the Washington Post, Robertson also described how the next president would be chosen: "We've all got to pray about it. And say, 'God, we want your man, we want your man, we want your man.'" And the Bible says, 'He lifts up one....' Promotion comes from the Lord. And we've got to recognize that He has put His hand on somebody."
Robertson's desire: "We just tell these guys, look, we put you in power in 1994 and we want you to deliver. We're tired of temporizing. Don't give us all this stuff about well, you've got a different agenda. This is your agenda. This is what you're going to do this year and we're going to hold your feet to the fire while you do it."
On the Democrats' year 2000 White House chances: "I don't think there's any question that 'Ozone Al [Gore]' is out of it. I mean, he's gone. We've got one that smoked but didn't inhale. Now, we've got one that only made a few calls. It was only 70 and there was 'no controlling legal authority.' Then you've got [Rep. Dick] Gephardt, who's probably worse, in the pocket of the labor unions and we don't need somebody like that."
All of this was surreptitiously audiotaped by the group Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which said it will send copies of its tape to the I.R.S. and the Federal Election Commission. The story demonstrates two main points: that the leaders of the Christian Coalition have made it policy to manipulate religion in order to promote a partisan political agenda, and that the departure of Ralph Reed will not change Robertson's strategy.
The Interfaith Alliance asks that you help make sure this story is told in every newspaper in the country.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Write a letter to the editor in your local newspapers expressing your point of view as a person of faith who disagrees with the Christian Coalition's real agenda. Focus on the Christian Coalition's treatment of people of faith who have different points of view as "enemies" who must be engaged in war. E.g. "The Christian Coalition feels that in order to be an American, not only must you be a Christian, but you must be Pat Robertson's kind of Christian." Emphasize the Christian Coalition's attempt to manipulate and distort religion in support of their extreme and partisan point of view. Point out that the Christian Coalition appears to be pursuing this divisive strategy, even after Ralph Reed has left. Highlight the importance of faith-based activism. Example: "I believe that religion best contributes to public life when it emphasizes the shared religious principles of America's diverse faith traditions, not when one segment of our community sets out to practice The Art of War on all of the others as Pat Robertson suggests."
To hear Pat Robertson yourself visit: http//www.allpolitics.com
n September 11, the Army released a report of its Senior
Review Panel on Sexual Harassment which admits that the Army has engaged in calling or threatening to call women lesbians in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, rape or for rebuffing sexual advances. "One particular form of sexual harassment not addressed in the survey but commented on in a few focus groups and by other female soldiers...was the fear of being accused of being a homosexual," states the report.
According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), the Clinton Administration's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy creates an obstacle to servicewomen's safety, arming perpetrators with a tool of sexual extortion. "The Army's recognition of the depth of the sexual harassment within its ranks is groundbreaking," said SLDN Co-Executive Director Michelle Benecke. "Army leaders must end retaliatory lesbian-baiting and instead investigate the perpetrators of harassment." [from GLAAD]
Be An Ambassabor
For Stockholm Europride 98
tockholm, one of Europe's most
beautiful capitals, is the host
for EuroPride '98, during the week 18-26 July, l998.
Stockholm EuroPride '98 is looking for help in bringing lesbian, gay and bisexual people to yet another successful EuroPride, this time in Stockholm. Do you have a wide contact network among GLB people in your city/country? Are you maybe already involved in a Pride organization? Or, do you just have friends in Sweden you'd like to help out?
Stockholm Europride 98 is currently looking for the key people who can help to spread information to an expectant world. Most of the information will be in printed form.
Although there is no promise of remuneration, there is the promise of an interesting, stimulating and constructive job. Your ideas and opinions are valued and you'll be among the first to be informed of all plans.
Stockholm EuroPride '98, an official part of Stockholm - Cultural Capital of Europe '98, will be celebrated during 18-26 July 1998. In the program for the week will be culture, politics, debates, parties and, of course, the biggest Pride parade ever held in Sweden.
Wherever you live, contact Stockholm EuroPride '98 at:
Box 3444, SE-103 69 Stockholm, Sweden; Tel. +46 8 335955, fax: +46 8 304730; e-mail: EuroPride98@bahnhof.se; EuroPride98
See www.gayeuro.com for more.
Just Say No - To Michaelangelo
f a handful of parents in Indiana
had their way, the schoolroom
would be no place for Michelangelo. Walt Whitman could be discussed only in Health class. And children would be saved from Cole Porter.
Over the past few months, an educational poster depicting these and other historic figures has been attacked at Chesterton High School, in Duneland.
English teacher Bonney Leckie first hung the "controversial" poster in 1991, but complaints filed this May prompted a familiar debate over the "promotion" of homosexuality.
The poster was originally printed in 1988, by the Gay & Lesbian Community Action Council of Minneapolis, to commemorate National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11). Simply designed, it features 10 black and white portraits-of James Baldwin, Willa Cather, Errol Flynn, Michelangelo, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Cole Porter, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bessie Smith, Walt Whitman, and Virginia Woolf.
Above the photos, a bold caption observes: "Unfortunately, history has set the record a little too straight." Below, a smaller caption simply reads: "Assume that all important contributions are made by heterosexuals, and you're not only thinking straight, but narrow. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with the ability to make a mark, let alone make history."
Typically, the recent "poster panic" was sparked by complaints from one parent. Cathy Podguski petitioned her school district to remove this "homosexual propaganda," insisting that the poster lacked both educational and moral value. Podguski said she feared the poster would encourage "coming out."
Eventually joined by other critics, Podguski argued that the poster was not relevant to the English curriculum. According to Jeannine Athens, a local reporter for the Indiana "Post Tribune," several parents insisted that "because of the subject matter, the poster should [be] presented in a health class, under the human sexuality and AIDS guidelines set by the school."
The poster contains no references, whatsoever, to health or disease. Five of the 10 historical photos do depict significant literary figures, however.
In August, a nine-member committee rejected Podguski's complaint. The Duneland School Corporation's "Materials Reconsideration Committee" voted unanimously to let the poster hang, though Podguski could still appeal the ruling-first to Duneland School Board and, ultimately, the Indiana Department of Education.
In the meantime, Bonney Leckie will continue to display her poster. It's all about tolerating people who are different," she said. [from MEDIAlert!]
t's a tale of two media, warning
with words, beginning with Esquire magazine's current cover story more or less "outing" film actor Kevin Spacey as a gay man. "More or less," because it examines ad nauseum "rumors" about Spacey, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in "The Usual Suspects," after coyly opening with statements ("He came out of the closet last spring...when he had no more use for disguises... and finally allowed people to see him for what he was, or at least for who he had become") designed to confuse the reader between Spacey himself and the openly gay character he plays in the film realization of the engaging best-seller Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil-but those who manage to make it to the end of "Kevin Spacey Has a Secret" will find author Tom Junod actually comes out in support of privacy. That wasn't good enough for Spacey, though, nor was it good enough for his agents, the William Morris Agency (WMA), a leading firm that also represents the likes of Bill Cosby, Clint Eastwood and Bruce Willis, which now declares in a volley of retaliatory press releases that it will discourage its clients from cooperating with Esquire, long a leader in its own field.
Press release from Spacey's agent Brian, Gersh: "As the head of the motion picture talent department at the William Morris Agency, I will strongly advise all of the agents to dissuade their clients from doing interviews with Esquire as a result of their deceptive and fraudulent behavior with respect to their interview with Kevin Spacey."
Press release from Spacey's publicist Staci Wolfe Newman: "Kevin Spacey categorically refutes the statement made in the current issue of 'Esquire' magazine, which implies that he personally 'came out last spring' while playing Jim Williams in the film 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.' While Mr. Spacey respects many diverse lifestyles and admires those who have chosen to come out with dignity and courage, he has always maintained a separation between his professional and personal life, and will continue to do so. His decision not to publicly define his private life has apparently prompted this publication's attempt to present as fact their version of what they imagine his private life to be."
Newman goes on to describe Esquire as "dishonest and malicious" and as having a "dangerous mentality," quoting a line in the article saying it was time "that somebody tried to invade his privacy and finally treat him like the celebrity he is." Newman's release on behalf of Spacey continues, "'Esquire' has made it abundantly clear that they have now joined the ranks of distasteful journalism, and this mean-spirited, homophobic, offensive article proves that the legacy of Joseph McCarthy is alive and well."
What Spacey had told Junod about the rumors, repeatedly, was "I have no interest in confirming or denying that at all." The actor also said he had no concerns or difficulties about playing a gay role, that he has many gay friends, and that he "can't imagine feeling the need to jump up and say, 'I'm not one of them.' If anyone wants to think that, they're absolutely free to think that."
Both Junod and his editor, David Granger, are convinced that the rumors are so widespread-the article mentions Junod's own mother having heard them-that one cannot avoid confronting them. They believe the rumors were clearly and repeatedly labelled as such, but deny that they are "peddling" them (although the "Has a Secret" title would seem to suggest they protest too much). They also point out that the article did not actually explore the real-life question of Spacey's orientation, but instead examined the lines between life and art and between public celebrity and privacy. Above all, they deny that they misled Spacey in any way. [from NewsPlanet]
omedy Central's "South Park"
is a brash, intended-to-shock
cartoon series, fashioned in the off-beat mold of "Monty Python" and "Saturday Night Live." The show's half-hour plots revolve around a cast of school-age characters, joined by a spattering of unsavory adults. In a recent episode (Sept. 3, 6 and 10), the main character's new dog Sparky essentially "comes out."
At first, Sparky is introduced by his proud owner, Stan, as "part Doberman and part wolf.... He's the toughest dog on the mountain!" Soon, however, Sparky takes a liking to male dogs, prompting crude insults from the other children: "Stan's dog's a homo! Stan's dog's a homo!"
"I'm sure glad my dog's not gay!," they tease. "Hey Stan, your dog been to any pride marches lately?" In an effective parody of the stupid "advice" offered by homophobic adults, who claim to "know better," Stan's teacher tells him: "Gay people are evil...right down to their cold black hearts.... Now, you go out and practice football like a good heterosexual."
Significantly, such meanness and stupidity comes from the mouths of characters who have no apparent redeeming qualities. Quite the contrary, in fact. They are relatively disgusting people-and so, by extension, is their homophobia.
Dejected nevertheless, Sparky eventually takes refuge at "Big Gay Al's Animal Sanctuary"-a magical place where homosexual pets can be themselves. Stan finds him there, only to realize that: "Wow, it seems like the animals here are really happy."
Big Gay Al-the queeny, life-affirming proprietor-takes Stan on a "big gay boat ride," giving him a theme-park's view of "the world of gayness throughout time." In the end, Stan concludes: "I'm sorry I tried to change you Sparky. I just didn't understand.... Being gay is just a part of nature, and a beautiful thing."
Still in its first season, "South Park" has become the highest rated series on Comedy Central. By 1998, the cable network expects to be available in 50 million homes and "a few million in the black." [from MEDIAlert!]
Courts Rule Feds
For Anti-Gay Military Policies
n what is being called a "historic
development," the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals recently ordered the federal government to pay $420,000 in attorneys' fees in a successful challenge of the military's ban on openly gay servicemembers.
Retired Navy Petty officer Keith Meinhold challenged the policy in 1992 and won the right to continue serving his country when the Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the military's policy excluding gay men and lesbians from serving had no basis in fact or law. "This nearly half million dollars gives just an inkling of the true monetary expense of the government's attempt to prevent gay military personnel from serving," said Kirk Childress, Staff Attorney of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). "Since 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' was implemented, the government has litigated in a dozen cases to prevent dedicated personnel from serving and the taxpayers have been stuck with the bill for an estimated $63 million in replacement costs for those discharged under the policy.
"More importantly, the government has not revealed the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent annually on actual gay investigations and administrative discharges."
For more information contact Julia Adams (SLDN) at 202.328-3244. [from GLAAD]
s the world's leading wire services, Reuters and the Associated Press (AP) routinely report on the same stories-though not always with the same results. While both services could do better on the lesbian and gay beat, Reuters seems to cling most often to the vestiges of homophobic style.
Among their regular features, AP and Reuters supply newspapers with popular timelines or lists of significant "events that happened on this day in history." For Wed., Sept. 10, AP's list noted: "On this date...one year ago-The Senate dealt a double defeat to gay-rights activists, voting to reject same-sex marriage in federal law and killing a separate bill that would have barred job discrimination against gays."
Of course, the phrase "gay rights" is not quite accurate. Marriage, after all, is a right enjoyed exclusively by heterosexuals - though its defenders are not referred to as "straight-rights activists." Likewise, fairness in employment, housing and healthcare is not a "gay right"-but a civil or human right, which is denied to gays.
On the same date, by contrast, Reuters managed to avoid the "gay rights" problem-but only by avoiding gays altogether. Reuters' list of "some of the major events to have occurred on Sept. 10 in history" did not include ANY lesbian, gay or bisexual references.
In covering current events, as well, the efforts of wire reporters are uneven. Recently, both Reuters (Sept. 4) and AP (Sept. 5) filed stories about a Minnesota lawsuit, in which two straight men are suing a gay discrimination. The heterosexuals claim that they were refused admittance by the bar's bouncer because they were not lesbian, gay or bisexual.
According to the Associated Press: "Their suit, filed Wednesday, says the action violates a 1993 amendment to the Minnesota Human Rights Act guaranteeing access to accommodations and businesses regardless of SEXUAL ORIENTATION."
Reuters reported: "In a suit filed Wednesday in Hennepin County District Court the two said the club violated a 1993 amendment to the Minnesota Human Rights Act that guarantees access to accommodations and businesses regardless of SEXUAL PREFERENCE."
In the same article, Reuters refers to "the gay lifestyle"-which it tends to do more often than AP, as well. Like "innocent victims" or "homosexual crime," these phrases are nothing more than homophobic canards. Such words are used only by a bigot or, at best, a fool.
As a practical media atter, "sexual preference" is meant to suggest that homosexuality is more of a vice than a virtue. This phrase panders to the rhetoric of homophobes, in which heterosexuality is seen as "the right choice"-and those who choose otherwise get what they deserve.
Inevitably, these notions of "preference" and "style" are used to imply that homosexuals are responsible for their own oppression-since it is they who "choose" not to be straight. By this twisted logic, there is only one way for lesbians and gays to reject homophobia: accept heterosexuality. [from MEDIAlert!]