LGBT synagogue helps bring exhibit on Nazi persecution of gays to Dallas Holocaust Museum

Prisoners at forced labor in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Beginning in 1943, homosexuals were among those in concentration camps who were killed in an SS-sponsored “extermination through work” program. (Courtesy of Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, courtesy U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

“Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals, 1933 – 1945,” a traveling exhibit from the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., will be at the Dallas Holocaust Museum June 3-Sept. 5, museum president and CEO Alice Murray announced today.

Congregation Beth El Binah, an LGBT Reform Jewish congregation, is working with the museum to secure funding to bring the exhibit to Dallas and develop programming around the exhibition.

Museum spokeswoman Nanette Fodell said, “We’re thrilled and looking forward to welcoming the LGBT community to the museum.”

When Hitler came to power in 1933, he banned all gay and lesbian organizations and the 1871 law known as Paragraph 175 was enforced:

A male who commits lewd and lascivious acts with another male or permits himself to be so abused for lewd and lascivious acts, shall be punished by imprisonment. In a case of a participant under 21 years of age at the time of the commission of the act, the court may, in especially slight cases, refrain from punishment.

In 1935, it was amended to include this “Confinement in a penitentiary not to exceed ten years.”

After World War II, gays who survived concentration camps were imprisoned to finish their sentences. Time served in a concentration camp did not count toward their sentences.

Paragraph 175 was repealed in 1993.

The partnership between Beth El Binah and the museum began last summer when Westboro Baptist Church picketed both the synagogue and the museum. That day, a fundraising record was hit for a Phelps protest when $11,000 was raised for Resource Center Dallas.

Congregation President Diane Litke said, “Our friendship with the museum and bringing this exhibit to Dallas is just more good that came from Fred Phelps visit.”

The Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance, 211 N. Record St. is located in Downtown Dallas at West End Station. Mon.–Fri. 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Whacko Thursday with Westboro Baptist, Cindy Jacobs and Michele Bachmann

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

Michele Bachmann

1. Calling her a “fag hag,” a spokeswoman for Westboro Baptist Church announced that the Phelps clan will picket the funeral of actress Elizabeth Taylor. Margie J. Phelps, daughter of the church’s leader Fred Phelps, said Taylor “joined Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger in hell.”

2. Our old friend Cindy Jacobs of Red Oak, Texas, preached at Sarah Palin’s home church earlier this month and said she hopes to have 500,000 “intercessors” mobilized for the 2012 elections “to shift this nation to righteousness and justice.” Watch video above.

3. Speaking in Iowa on Wednesday, likely GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann praised voters for ousting state Supreme Court judges who legalized same-sex marriage, calling them “black-robed monsters.” (UPDATE: Bachmann’s adviser’s announced today that she is likely to form a presidential exploratory committee.)

—  John Wright

America, the home of the whopper

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LYING LIARS | Decency goes out the window when the Westboro Baptist group comes to town for a protest.

Supreme Court’s ruling in Westboro Baptist case doesn’t consider veracity, common decency

Sometimes people continue telling lies even after they have been shown to be liars. I guess they figure that if they change their tune, they will look like the liars they are, or worse, lose control of the narrative.

The narrative is the story that the press and the public already have in their collective psyches, so anything that goes against it is usually dismissed. Controlling narratives is what lying is all about.

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Hardy Habaerman Flagging Left

Take Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Tony keeps trotting out the old line that pedophiles are mostly gay men.

It doesn’t matter that almost all the major professional organizations in social work and psychology have debunked that lie long ago, he keeps telling it.

His latest whopper was in defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and using discredited research and twisted figures, he justified his statements, aligning to the Family Research Council’s narrative precisely.

More importantly, he speaks while holding a nice soft leather Bible in his hand. The message is none too subtle: It’s the truth, “because it is in the Bible,” and holding the Bible makes him look “trustworthy.”

It doesn’t always work.

Take the “godly” folks from the Westboro Baptist Church. They can hold all the Bibles they want, and they still look like loonies.

My bet is that that’s exactly what they want to look like. Their narrative is, “We are religious zealots bent on agitating everyone,” and they stick to it.

They are picketing soldiers’ funerals for the sole purpose of getting people angry at them.

I understand that may be the way they fund their activities, from litigation against those who they have angered to violence. It’s like waving the red flag in the face of a bull and then suing the bull when you get hit.

Both Westboro Baptist and Mr. Perkins fall into the same category, and yet the Supreme Court says they have the right to free speech.

Now I am a big proponent of free speech. Without it I would be left writing away with no one to read it.

The problem comes when free speech is abused, and that is what the WBC and the FRC are doing.

These folks have found the loophole in democracy that lets you say just about anything you want as long as you have sufficient legal representation and parse your words.

Now in the interest of being fair, none of this is a personal attack on anyone, I am merely musing about the sad state of what passes for free speech in our country. (Note the careful parsing of words?)

Apparently, it’s become OK to quote from studies your own organization creates specifically for the purpose of “proving a point.” Apparently, it’s OK to make blanket statements about groups with no proof whatsoever, as long as you don’t go attacking specific people.

Apparently, it’s OK to scream just about anything as long as you don’t go personally attacking an individual.

Therefore, I think it’s about time our side took note and began our own narrative that goes something like this:

“Heterosexuals are dangerous people. More than 90 percent of all crimes are committed by self-confessed heterosexuals.

“Overwhelming numbers of heterosexual men abuse women making them patently unfit to be in marriages.

“The vast majority of child neglect cases are directly attributable to heterosexual couples, and that, therefore, makes them the worst candidates for parents or guardians.

“What’s worse, heterosexuals are responsible for more rapes than all LGBT people combined.

“On the religious front it’s even worse. Christians are the most violent people in our country. The vast majority of criminals who identify their religion are Christian.

“It’s a very dangerous group and we must be suspicious of them at every turn.”

Do I have proof of this? Some of it is indeed true, simply because of the demographics of the population. The rest is conjecture.

But I have a right to say it according to the Supreme Court, so why not?

Well, here’s why not:

I could stoop to the despicable practices of the people who seek to deny us our rights; I could legitimately make most of the claims in my rant above. But there is an important item missing from that, and that is plain decency.

Decency has been lost in our discourse these days. It is the principal that says the simple fact I can do something doesn’t mean I should.

It is the principal that says sometimes, “It’s none of my business what other folk do.”

Too bad that principal I learned as a “basic family value” has been lost.

Want fries with those whoppers?
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

 

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Shunda K debuts new video and set to play SXSW

Now that Shunda K has gone solo, she’s making sure she has a heavy impact on the industry and that looks like she’s starting with her first video from her new solo album The Most Wanted. This is her contribution to Dan Savage’s It Gets Better campaign, but it’s a lot heavier than just giving viewers the message.

Shunda K’s “I’m Da Best” clip is a direct assault on the Westboro Baptist Church (WIKI) and concerns a young boy who is harassed by his peers, faces even more tension at home and how, with the help of his faith and the support of his role model Shunda K, he overcomes these obstacles to stand tall. The video is Shunda K’s contribution to the ongoing “It Gets Better” Project (itgetsbetter.org) started by famed syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage as a place where young people who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans can see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future.

You can catch Shunda K at SXSW in a couple of week at the Art Disaster event at the Beauty Bar March 15. If anything, she’s one of the first real gay acts I’ve found at SXSW this year. I’m sure there are more, but damn if its hard to pinpoint those smaller bands.

—  Rich Lopez

Supreme Court rules in favor of Westboro Baptist

Phelps pickets from a July 2010 Dallas appearance

By an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the right of Westboro Baptist Church to picket military funerals, according to Associated Press.

From the decision:

“Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”

The father of a Marine killed in Iraq in 2006 sued the Phelps clan for picketing at the funeral. He called the group’s actions targeted harassment and invasion of privacy. The purpose of the picketing was to purposely inflict pain.

In a jury trial, the father was awarded $11 million that was reduced to $5 million by the judge. On appeal, the ruling was overturned and the judgment thrown out. This ruling upholds the appeals court.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion. The dissenting vote came from Justice Samuel Alito.

A group of 21 news organizations filed a brief siding with the Phelps group based on preserving free speech rights.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Westboro Baptist edition

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A group of hackers known as Anonymous threatens to destroy websites belonging to the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church if the church doesn’t end its protests in 2011.

2. The church responds by telling the “anonymous crybaby hackers” to “Bring It.”(Flier above.)

3. It turns out the church actually made up the whole thing as a publicity stunt. (Press release below.)

—  John Wright

Dallas Holocaust Museum finds piece of gay art, marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day

When I was working on my story on gays in the Holocaust, I asked Nanette Fodell at the Dallas Holocaust Museum if they have any pieces relating to the subject in their archives. The museum archivist found one piece.

The piece was painted in 1984 by William D. Kaddatz (1953–1989) and was purchased in a garage sale and later donated to the museum. It depicts two men wearing the pink triangle.

The card under the painting reads:

Treblinka

I saw him often in the parks in Berlin and though we were intimate we never used names or even spoke at all. I saw him just the other day bit it was far from being the same. He was standing in another enclosure the SS built for the care and feeding of the Domestic German Jews [sic]. Dogs are treated better. It was bitterly cold and had wrapped rags around his neck in a more or less futile effort to stay even a bit warmer. We all did it and still a few froze to death in their sleep. We just strive now I suppose to remember better days. I know its [sic] not anticipation of a future because they no longer exist.

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945. To mark the day, a candlelight ceremony will be at the museum at 6 p.m. Bring a traditional yahrzeit candle (Kroger on Cedar Springs has them in the kosher food section) or they will supply candles.

Museum officials sent a special welcome to the LGBT community noting the support the community gave them last July when Westboro Baptist Church began a weekend of picketing in Dallas at the museum.

Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, 211 North Record St. Jan 27 at 6-7 p.m. The museum is located at West End Station on the Red, Green, Blue and Orange lines. Parking is available at Houston Street and Pacific Avenue).

—  David Taffet

The Nooner: Leppert unlikely to run; 1st gay museum opens; R.I. marriage fight heats up

Mayor Tom Leppert appears in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in 2007.

Your lunchtime quickie from Instant Tea:

• It’s “all but certain” that Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert won’t seek re-election, according to The Dallas Morning News, and Councilwoman Angela Hunt says she’s considering a run.

• Westboro Baptist Church says it has decided not to picket 9-year-old Tucson shooting victim’s funeral after all, but it will picket that of federal judge killed in attack.

• First LGBT history museum opens in San Francisco.

• Marriage fight heats up in Rhode Island.

• Jewish groups condemn Sarah Palin‘s use of “blood libel.”

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Sarah Palin, Westboro Baptist Church, The Advocate’s gayest cities

1. Sarah Palin released a video statement (above) this morning in response to the Tucson shooting, saying her decision to put rifle crosshairs on a map over Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ district had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the incident at all. How could it have, right? But why so defensive then? And what better way for Palin to address a shooting that targeted Giffords, who’s Jewish, than by using an anti-semitic metaphor? Palin says those who link the tragedy to her violent rhetoric are committing “blood libel” — which refers to an accusation from the Middle Ages that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood to make matzoh for Passover. Palin is right, this incident was more about mental illness than rhetoric — until you consider the fact that the ones spewing the rhetoric are mentally ill. (Politico)

2. The governor of Arizona signed emergency legislation to prohibit Westboro Baptist Church from picketing within 300 feet of the funeral for a 9-year-old girl who was killed in the Tucson shooting. The legislation was initiated by openly gay State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Tucson, who said this: “I’m a strong advocate of the First Amendment and the bottom line is this, Fred Phelps and his group of people can still spew their hate if they want. They just don’t get to do it close to the families that are grieving. They have to be farther away.” (ABC 15)

3. The Advocate lists Minneapolis as the gayest city in America, and Texas is shut out of the top 15. Have we mentioned that The Advocate sucks?

—  John Wright

Thanks for an amazing year at RCD

LGBT, HIV communities should be prepared for new challenges in 2011

What a year! Who could have predicted all the twists and turns it has taken, or the events that galvanized our country and united our communities?

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HELL FREEZES OVER  | A member of the Phelps clan from Westboro Baptist Church protests outside Resource Center Dallas in July. A counterprotest fundraiser organized by RCD netted more than $11,000 to buy a new ice maker for the agency’s hot lunch program. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

So much happened in 2010 involving Resource Center Dallas, and none of it could have occurred without the strong support of the HIV/AIDS and LGBT communities in North Texas.

Looking back, I am filled with gratitude and wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you. Here’s what you helped us accomplish:

• Dallas Area Rapid Transit expanded its nondiscrimination policy to include gender identity, in the wake of news stories about the discrimination experienced by a transgender bus driver;

• RCD joined forces with the Kaiser Family Foundation, Dallas County Health and Human Services, and AIDS ARMS to bring the “Greater than AIDS” campaign to Dallas, highlighting services available to people living with HIV/AIDS and promoting HIV prevention;

• DFW International Airport expanded its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity, following a request from RCD and Fairness Fort Worth;

• A fundraising counterprotest against a “church” from Kansas brought out hundreds of community members in a rainstorm and netted more than $11,000 to buy a new ice maker for our HIV/AIDS clients’ hot lunch program;

• Following advocacy by RCD, Lambda Legal, LULAC and a coalition of other community groups, the Dallas Independent School District adopted a first-of-its-kind-in-Texas comprehensive, enumerative antibullying policy that covers not only LGBT students, but all students;

• We partnered with 138 community groups, including the Tarrant County Health Department and the Urban League of Greater Dallas, in the “Stomp Out Syphilis” campaign; administered over 3,100 HIV tests; and delivered HIV prevention messages to more than 8,600 people;

• We completed diversity training for all 700-plus employees of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage commission statewide — the first time a state agency conducted this training for all its employees;

• And, we served more than 21,500 weekday lunches and provided about 29,000 visits to our food pantry for our HIV/AIDS clients in 2010 — distributing more than 350 tons of groceries.

These accomplishments, funded while the economy remained sluggish and both the need and demand for our services continued to increase, show the generous nature and support of our communities and allies. Each and every one of you who got involved deserves recognition and a deep, sincere thank you — especially the more than 1,100 people who volunteered at RCD in 2010.

As we stand on the cusp of another year, we do not know what opportunities for change will be presented. Clearly, the political landscape has shifted, and the new realities in Washington and Austin will provide opportunities and challenges for the LGBT and HIV communities.

One key area — funding for ADAP (AIDS drug assistance programs), medical care and social services for people living with HIV — will be an issue for Texas lawmakers already grappling with a large budget deficit.

The movement toward marriage equality will continue in the federal courts, as well as state legislatures. Even though “don’t ask, don’t tell” is coming to an end, work needs to be done so that gay and lesbian members of the military can serve openly — and, there remains a prohibition on openly transgender members of the armed services.

Over the past year, the LGBT and HIV communities responded to issues as they developed. We made phone calls, wrote letters, spoke truth to power, and rallied. We donated our time to organizations quietly and without thought of recognition. We sent our dollars in to provide economic support to organizations that share our values, focus and interests.

What 2010 teaches us is that we must be ready to meet whatever challenges we encounter. Resource Center Dallas will be there, engaged on behalf of not only our communities but all North Texans. We’ll continue to develop partnerships across the region, because the issues of HIV, discrimination and equality don’t respect city limits or county lines. And, we’ll be turning to the communities again for your help and support.

Playwright and author Thornton Wilder reminds us, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

Throughout this year, you and our work with and for you kept us fully alive and conscious of our shared treasure. For that, and the opportunity you offer us to serve you and our communities, Resource Center and I say thank you. And Happy New Year!

Rafael McDonnell is strategic communications and programs manager at Resource Center Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas