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)


  1. This group openly discounts and discredits Israel's sovereignty and security with its cynical and malicious use of Israel's liberal culture as a weapon against it in a perverse double standard that it does not ever ask any Palestinian or Arab nationality to meet. To me this is akin to allowing gay members of a KKK group to march in a pride parade because they happen to be gay, and I doubt that would be even allowed. Michael Lucas is a hero and you guys should be ashamed of yourselves.

  2. Eyal, you could not have said it better! Siege Busters and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) are malicious groups promoting hate...not free speech! Their names alone blatantly attest to that and their platforms are nothing less than screeds that try to delegitimize the State of Israel and their right to protect their citizens (Jews, Christians and Muslims alike)! Michael's passion and relentless pursuit of a TRULY OPEN LGBT Center where free speech...not hate... are promoted should be applauded.

  3. This letter is hateful (and to my knowledge mischaracterizes several issues) which just highlights the point we are all trying to make for some time- The Israeli-Palestinian topic is a divisive one where no side holds the absolute truth or justice. Israel has occupied the west bank for a few decades now, Palestinians blew up busses and civilians whenever Israel withdrew etc. The main point is that this has nothing to do with gay and lesbian rights and the use of hateful, misleading terms (such as "apartheid" in the context of non-citizens) fractures the community along lines that are at best tangential to the issues we should be all fighting for. If anything organizations that are fundraising under the rainbow flag should raise funds to help the thousands of persecuted (often flogged, stoned and burned!) gays and lesbians in Hammas occupied Gaza, gays who get kicked out to the street or to "conversion camps" by ultra religious families all over the world and the ones being forced into marriages in Africa for example. Michael Lucas is absolutely right these anti Israeli groups should not be allowed to use the communities facilities to promote ideas that are controversial, divisive, hateful and have nothing to do with what the center is about.


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