LGBT Groups Condemn Anti-Muslim Hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives
(San Francisco, CA, March 11, 2011)—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, National Center for Transgender Equality, Transgender Law Center, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and Lambda Legal join together to express outrage over U.S. Representative Peter King’s ongoing "Muslim Radicalization" hearings—the first of which was held yesterday—in the House of Representatives.
The groups join Americans from many diverse backgrounds to condemn the scapegoating of Muslim people. As Floyd Mori from the Japanese American Citizens League has said, "We feel very strongly that it does point back to the time when just because we were of Japanese ancestry, people looked upon us with hate and terror." The internment of Japanese Americans—one of our nation’s most shameful episodes—resulted from a similar attempt to cast an entire group of citizens as "un-American" and deny them their civil rights. As groups representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of all faiths, races, national origins, and backgrounds, the organizations condemn these hearings, and urge our elected representatives to stand fast against anyone who would exclude any group from the American family.
"Representative King’s hearings only fuel the fires of unjust hatred and discrimination that Muslim, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans of all sexual orientations and gender identities already face on a daily basis," said National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell. "As members of the LGBT community, which continues to fight for our equality and justice, we stand in solidarity with the growing chorus of voices condemning these shameful hearings and calling for an end to the politics of irrationality and fear."
LGBT Americans are no stranger to this type of scapegoating. In the 1950s, Joe McCarthy targeted LGBT people, and sought to portray them as dangerous and un-American. In a report titled "Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in the U.S. Government," a group of United States Senators concluded that "homosexuals and other sex perverts are not proper persons to be employed in Government" because "they are generally unsuitable, and they constitute security risks." Those hearings—like the "Muslim Radicalization" hearings—heard testimony from supposed experts that reinforced these prejudices. In the years that followed, thousands of LGBT civil service employees were harassed, terrorized, or fired from their jobs.
"Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people know all too well what it means to be singled out, scapegoated, and persecuted simply because of who they are," said Geoff Kors, Executive Director for Equality California. "The targeting of Muslim Americans is deplorable. It has no place in society and is un-American, un-democratic and unjust. We stand in strong solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters and condemn the marginalization of any individuals or groups based on age, religion, creed, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and expression."
Said Transgender Law Center Executive Director Masen Davis: "As minorities within the U.S. who are greatly underrepresented in government, our struggles for equality are all connected. All LGBT people, of all races and religions, must step forward to join other fair-minded people in creating a world where discrimination against Muslim, Arab, and Middle Eastern-Americans is no longer acceptable, in which we transcend ignorance and bigotry. As advocates who use the legal system to make positive change, it is deeply concerning and distressing to see government hearings twisted for such an unjust purpose."
Added Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart: "Every American, regardless of ethnicity, religious belief or sexual orientation, should be asking 'where does this lead?' We've all been down this road before, most notably during World War Two and the Cold War, with tragic consequences for tens of thousands of American citizens. Singling any group out as a whole because of a suspected lack of loyalty on the part of a few of its members is wrong; doing it when the internment of Japanese-Americans and the spectacle of the McCarthy witch trials are still within living memory is simply repugnant."
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.
Equality California is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil rights protections in the nation. Equality California has passed more than 70 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment.
The National Center for Transgender Equality is a social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment. www.TransEquality.org
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders is New England's leading legal organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression.
The Transgender Law Center is a civil rights organization advocating for transgender communities. The Transgender Law Center uses direct legal services, education, community organizing, and advocacy to transform California into a state that recognizes and supports the needs of transgender people and their families.
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