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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 27, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 35
Mosque issue is an LGBT issue
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Mosque issue is an LGBT issue

by Mark Segal - Courtesy of the Philadelphia Gay News

If you picked up almost any newspaper in the nation Monday, you would have seen an article about the proposed Islamic Cultural Center near ground zero in Manhattan. The Washington Post story 'Other Mosque Proposals Also Face Opposition' examines how there is growing opposition to mosques in other cities around the country. The New York Times decided to go political: 'Lazio Finds an Issue in Furor Over Islamic Center.' Lazio, the Republican running for governor of New York, opposes the mosque at its present proposed site.

Let's make this simple, especially to the tea-party people who claim to be fighting for the Constitution. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Islam is a religion. The mosque - really a cultural center with a mosque inside at a former Burlington Coat Factory outlet - has won all permit approvals, and the group has the right to build if it chooses.

Those making an issue out of it also have a right to speak their opposition, since the Constitution also protects freedom of speech, and freedom to protest.

But when you call members of an entire religion "terrorists," you cross the line. And that line is beginning to be blurred, which is dangerous to us all.

Calling all Muslims terrorists is a hate campaign. We, as Gay people, should know this trick. Think of all the rights denied us using hate - hate based in lies.

Look through the back issues of any local LGBT newspaper and you'll see stories about communities that tried to keep an LGBT center or business out of its neighborhood.

Do we block the construction of a Catholic church because of the Inquisition and other recent crimes against humanity by the church? No. How about not allowing the Mormons to build a temple because of their opposition to the civil rights of the LGBT community? No. Do not tamper with our constitutional rights; it's a slippery slope.

Remember: The rationale being used to try and deny the cultural center is the same one that has been used against LGBT establishments. Here are the words - do they sound familiar?

They say it is "not sensitive to families." Sensitivity and family. Does that sound like family values? "They should move it." How far away do they want us to move? Ever feel like they didn't want us in "their" community? Keep those Gays or Muslims away from us! "They are not part of this community." Are the Muslims who live in that neighborhood invisible? Are we?

Of course we all feel for the families of the victims of September 11, and that includes the Muslim victims who worked in the towers. But this issue has now been taken over by the right-wing politicians.

The campaign to stop the cultural center is a campaign based on misinformation. We, as a community, should understand that. May I remind you of Proposition 8 in California?

Mark Segal is the publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com.

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