July 8, 2011

Lambda Legal: Don't endorse Lucas' right-wing, anti-speech campaign

Last week, Lambda Legal sent around invitations to a Fire Island Pines party -- co-sponsored by Michael Lucas and his boyfriend Richard Winger (former president of the LGBT Center's board.) Queers for an Open LGBT Center asked Lambda: really?!

Kevin M. Cathcart, Executive Director
Lambda Legal // 120 Wall Street, Suite 1500
New York, NY 10005-3904

7 July 2011

Dear Kevin,

Lambda Legal is one of the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations in the country, and it is because of our recognition of the prominence and importance of your organization that we are writing to you to express our concern about the inclusion of Michael Lucas in the list of sponsors of your 33rd annual Fire Island event on July 9.

We fully recognize the need for any 501(c)(3) organization to raise funds to support its work, especially in an economic downturn such as we are now experiencing. However, we feel compelled to bring to your attention the involvement of Mr. Lucas in the operations of the LGBT Community Center -- in particular, his pernicious influence in persuading the Center to expel and ban the Siege Busters Working Group in March of this year and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) in May.

It was the ban on the Siege Busters and the silencing of free speech at the Center that prompted us to form Queers for an Open LGBT Center (QFOLC). Unfortunately, the ban on both of those organizations remains in effect to this day, and represents an unprecedented as well as entirely unjustified exclusion of individuals and groups working on behalf of the liberation of the Palestinian people -- including LGBT Palestinians -- who currently struggle to survive under an illegal and oppressive Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Michael Lucas has consciously and deliberately mischaracterized both groups as being 'anti-Israel hate groups' and its members as anti-Semitic -- despite the fact that many members of both groups are Jewish -- while he himself has made outrageously bigoted statements about Arabs and Muslims. Lucas has been quoted as saying, "I hate Muslims, absolutely. It’s a horrible, horrible religion. It’s a plague." Lucas has also said of Muslims, "They have not contributed to civilization in any way, in any field — political thought, science, music, architecture, nothing for century after century. What do they produce? Carpets. That’s how they should travel because that’s the only way they travel without killing people." And Lucas has slandered the proposed Islamic cultural center on Park Place in Manhattan as a "monument to Muslim terrorism."

We have to assume that Lambda Legal as an organization does not endorse Michael Lucas's virulently Islamophobic and anti-Arab/anti-Palestinian bigotry or his efforts to exclude QAIA and the Siege Busters from the Center and repress queer political speech -- in particular, his campaign to marginalize Arab and Muslim LGBT people and to silence community members who speak out against racism and bigotry. However, we would have to ask whether Lambda Legal would want to be seen as legitimizing the position as an LGBT community leader that Lucas so obviously wants to claim for himself.


Naomi Brussel
Leslie Cagan
Bill Dobbs
Emmaia Gelman
Andy Humm
John Francis Mulligan
Pauline Park
Brad Taylor
Queers for an Open LGBT Center (QFOLC)

July 1, 2011

At NYC Pride, Israel contingent attacks LGBT Palestine supporters

Will the Center provide safe space for queers under attack? So far, it's just providing safe space for attackers.

NYC's Pride March saw a scary escalation of the effort to squelch queer political speech -- this time with violence. Pride marchers carrying Palestine-related signs were physically attacked by marchers from the Israel contingent. Facebook posts on "Queer support for Israel" (now apparently removed) indicated that the attack may have been aimed at Queers Against Israeli Apartheid.

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