Issue No. 21: January 30, 1996
P L A G A L
M E M O R A N D U M
Post Office Box 33292
Washington, DC 20033
A Newsletter for Members and Friends of the
Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians
PLAGAL'S BEST TURNOUT
MARKS MARCH FOR LIFE WEEKEND
On a beautiful January day, twenty three PLAGALites joined to march for the human rights of all unborn children -- black and white, male and female, gay and straight. Three women and 20 men came from Arizona, Minnesota, Illinois, Massachusetts, West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. They came to join thousands of others in the affirmation of the right of the unborn to live. It was wonderful to be there.
At Noon on Monday, January 22, 1996, PLAGALites joined the March for Life down Constitution Avenue with our banner proudly raised above us. We proceeded then toward Capitol Hill in the company of Feminists for Life and dozens of other pro-life groups from around the country.
As has been our custom, PLAGAL's entourage stopped at the crest of Capitol Hill in front of the Russell Senate Office Building and distributed flyers to the other participants in the March for Life. Following the March, the PLAGAL delegation kept their appointment with Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the pro-life leader who is now Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives. Our members offered Chairman Hyde our heartfelt gratitude for his unwavering support of the rights of unborn children. We urged him to support a ban on abortions based on both gender and sexual orientation in the future. PLAGAL members then refreshed themselves at the reception for the Susan B. Anthony List , a political action committee dedicated to electing pro-life women to Congress. There they expressed their thanks and presented their hopes for a ban on sex and sex-orientation abortions to Congressmen Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the Chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, to Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), the leading pro-life Democrat, and to pro-life Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth (R-Id.).
COLLEGIANS FOR LIFE
A personal view
"Yeah . . . we're the Pro Life Alliance of . . . well . . . uhm . . . Gentlemen and Ladies. That's it."
Ironically, even though "Gay and Lesbian" identifies us as one of Pro-Life's most unique organizations, gentlemen and ladies accurately describes our approach.
PLAGAL's women stand out as true ladies and our men as genuine gentlemen: kind, strong, unashamed, courageous, diverse, and united in our respect for the sanctity of life. We have every reason to be proud of being known as a people of conviction and compassion. Our very presence at any function is often the cause of passionate debate.
One such function was the American Collegians for Life banquet, where Philip Arcidi, Donna Kearney and I attended a mock debate. Donna introduced herself as a pro-life lesbian and proceeded to introduce us as her partners in crime. Everyone remained calm and some were quick to say, "We're glad to have you with us."
I can count on one hand the times I've heard those words from people who really know me.
Donna and I were asked to participate in the mock debate, role playing as a lesbian pro-lifer and a gay pro-choicer. This was an awesome opportunity to present arguments from a perspective quite foreign to the audience. We didn't get an Oscar, but the applause and comments that followed proved that there are many pro-lifers who are striving for objectivity and tolerance in the common fight for life.
We were well received by almost every pro-life organization and were able to introduce PLAGAL without much controversy. Two women from the National Right to Life Committee made their approval very clear and were surprised to learn of the possibility of sexual-orientation based abortions in the near future. The Seamless Garment Network was also exceptionally supportive with Carol Crossed backing us every step of the way. A representative of the Susan B. Anthony List extended a friendly handshake and shared her gratitude for our participation in the same cause.
The ACL Banquet also gave us an opportunity to exchange ideas with Dr. Mildred Jefferson, the guest speaker. She spoke of the importance of laying down differences and fighting together for life in order to successfully promote justice in America. (Dr. Jefferson moderated PLAGAL's World AIDS Day 1994 Forum on HIV and Expectant Mothers.)
Another speaker that night insisted on the important role that men play in the fight for life. Her own story of crisis pregnancy was your typical boy-gets-girl-pregnant-and-disappears drama with one beautiful exception: As she was considering an abortion, it was her father who lovingly assured her that he would stand by her and her child and would work with her in finding his grandchild a home through adoption. That was a choice she would never regret, as years later she had the joy of being welcomed by her son and his family to share a part in his life once again. I left the banquet so encouraged that it was difficult to deal with what followed.
Project Truth, a strong anti-gay (yet pro-life) group surrounded and verbally attacked me in order to convince me that unless I "repent and turn to the one and only true church," forsaking "that lifestyle," I would be damned. They were polite enough to include all other non-Catholic pro-lifers on the "lost and going to hell" list and consider all other organizations ineffective unless they are "preaching the Gospel to sinners." Not being Catholic, I had the curious opportunity of introducing Project Truth to their worst nightmare: articulate pro-life gay Catholics!
The best outcome of that debate was our introduction to an ACL gay pro-lifer who had never heard of PLAGAL. You never know who's listening.
Our pro-life support is to some a blessing, to others a threat; yet to all ... a shattering of stereotypes.
As I listened to Donna and Philip present who and why we are, I couldn't help but feel honored to be a part of such a noble cause that defends all people's right to life, liberty, and consequently ... the pursuit of happiness.
Pro-Life and Proud,
MARY HAINES AFFIRMS DIVERSITY AT PLAGAL FORUM
Every PLAGALite believes that pro-lifers comprise an impressive diversity of Americans. Our convictions were affirmed on January 21, when we gathered to hear Mary Haines. Few grandmothers are as energetic: Mary Haines is a vice President of NOEL, the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life, the wife of the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, D.C., the mother of a gay HIV+ son, and a kindred spirit to those of us in PLAGAL. Mrs. Haines carries the pro-life flag in a church were the defense of the unborn is "episcopally incorrect." And she wants pro-lifers of every variety to let their talents be known.
The rapport between Mrs. Haines and her audience of 35 was inspiring. She described her wellspring of energy in her pro-life efforts: a deep Christian belief that human life is a gift to be welcomed, no matter how difficult the circumstances of its arrival. She urged both pro-choicers and pro-lifers -- both of which were represented in the audience -- to do more to care for unanticipated children. Pro-choicers should help single women who decide to bear their children. And the pro-life movement needs to welcome the talents of everyone: God-given gifts are to be used, not overlooked.
KEENER HELPS PRESENT NEW CONTRACT WITH THE AMERICAN WOMAN
PLAGAL National Vice-President Betty Ann Keener joined Dr. Mildred Jefferson, founder of the National Right to Life Committee in the presentation of "The Contract With The American Woman" at a New York City Press Conference on Monday, January 22, 1996. The Contract is a proposal to alter the malpractice insurance laws of the fifty states to insure that women who have abortions are protected against the criminal acts, anti-social behavior, and inferior medical practices of abortion providers. Betty Ann presented the four points of the nine point Contract: Protecting Abortion-Injured Women Through Expanded Third Party Liability; Reforming the System of Identifying and Reporting Injuries and Deaths; Restructuring State Medical Licensing Boards; and Strengthening Basic Consumer Protection Legislation. Bishop and Mrs. Ravenel of New York City, whose 13 year old daughter, Dawn, died during an abortion, also spoke. Lime Five, a new and complete expose of the shoddy practices of the abortion industry, was also available at the conference.
With respect to the first point, informed consent counseling, Betty Ann argued that this should be done by someone with no financial interest in the abortion; "Informed consent being done by the abortionist is like McDonald,s opening up a nutritional counseling center and handing out a menu with every item on it from McDonald's." Discussing the concept of Third Party Liability, Betty Ann quipped, "Only once could a girl use the excuse that an angel of the Lord came down and said, 'Hail, Thou who art hightly favored, Blessed art thou among women.' Every other time there is usually someone else involved in the pregnancy."
As a pro-lifer, Betty Ann naturally looks forward to the day when every human life will be protected from the moment of conception until natural death. But until that time comes, she expressed her determination that practices that are far beneath the minimum standard of care should not be tolerated in abortion clinics.
The press conference was organized by Chris Slattery, a New York pro-life activist and President of Expectant Mother Care, on behalf of Life Dynamics, the chief promoter of "The Contract With The American Woman." Seven television stations and six newspapers attended.
CLEVELAND CLOTHING DRIVE SUCCESSFUL
Cleveland PLAGAL's clothing and diaper drive on October 9, 1995, was a great success. Most of the clothing was received before the date of the drive by people who could not drop it off that day. We received not only infant clothing but lots of toddler clothes as well. These were given in the name of the lesbian and gay community to Birthright and Providence House, both of whom were surprised that PLAGAL had taken up so large a collection. PLAGAL has received thank you notes from both institutions expressing their gratitude. Particularly helpful were Emmanuel Christian Church and its pastor, Rev. Joyce Speagle.
BUFFALO G & L GROUP SURPRISED
When PLAGAL Vice-President and Cleveland Coordinator Cecilia Holesovksy was in Buffalo to speak to the Students for Life at the University of New York at Buffalo, she dropped in on the campus Gay and Lesbian organization. They were rather surprised and did not know what to say. Cecilia personally invited them to attend the pro-life gathering with an open mind and hear what she had to say. Cecilia is sorry to report that she did not see those whom she invited there. The letter from Laurel Graham, the local pro-life leader, describing the event and thanking Cecilia and Donna Kearney, was printed in our last PLAGAL Memorandum
COMMUNITY CENTER SABOTAGES AIDS BENEFIT
Judith Rainburg, director of the Cleveland Gay and Lesbian Service Center, cancelled PLAGAL's planned December 2, 1995, fundraiser for the Living Room, an AIDS/HIV service organization. The cause for Ms. Rainburg's action was Cecilia Holesovsky's letter to the Cleveland Gay People's Chronicle and to the AIDS Walk Committee. Cecilia made it clear that Planned Parenthood had no business receiving AIDS Walk money when there are so many organizations that feed, clothe, offer medical care and hospice care, and other services to people with AIDS that are desperately needed.
CLIPPINGS AND CONTACTS
As has become our custom, we would like to remind our readers that PLAGAL needs the names (and addresses, voice and fax numbers, and now e-mail addresses) of local gay and lesbian media. When anything appears in the lesbian and gay media discussing the Pro-Life movement, or in any media discussing PLAGAL, Please, PLEASE send it to us. We do not have -- and cannot afford -- a clipping service or subscriptions to the multitude of lesbian and gay media.
meanwhile. . .
from the oldest . . .
The Gay and Lesbian Pro-Life Alliance of Minneapolis/Saint Paul, the nation's oldest lesbian and gay pro-life group, was recognized by a full page article in the local lesbian and gay newspaper, Q Monthly. John Stanek, PLAGAL National Vice-President, board member for Feminists for Life, and an activist in Minnesota's Democrat-Farmer-Labor party, and PLAGALite Mary Jean Mulherin were extensively interviewed in the piece.
John Stanek said that "The delightful thing I've found is that there are far more gays and lesbians taking the middle-ground. There's more recognition that you can have all sorts of attitudes and beliefs. Beyond our basic civil rights, I don't think there's a gay agenda that everyone agrees on." He noted that he was willing to set aside his own interests in order to give a voice to unborn children who cannot speak for themselves. Stanek embraced the local slogan, "Invisibility is our common bond with the unborn child. [Gays and Lesbians] are as unwanted as an unborn child because we are unknown."
Mary Jean Mulherin, a strong feminist who embraces a "consistent life ethic" that condemns violence in all forms and who participated in this year's March for Life, revealed that, "I've met lots of pro-life lesbians who would never dream of being involved publicly in a pro-life thing, heaven forbid."
An unidentified lesbian quoted in the article concurred, "The pro-life movement is more accepting of gays and lesbians than the gay and lesbian community is of pro-lifers. . . . Being pro-life is a second closet, and a scarier one in some ways, because it means not being accepted by your own community."
. . . to the newest
The newest lesbian pro-life group, Lesbians in Support of Life (LISOL), came out in Denver, Colorado. Gabriel Hermelin, is President. She can be reached at 1759 Gilpin Street, No.103, Denver, CO, 80218, or by telephone at (303) 394-3881.
. . . and in the media.
The December/January edition of Diversity, Idaho's lesbian and gay monthly, featured Philip Arcidi's response to a letter in the Austin, Texas, American Statesman, where a writer rejoiced over the possible use of genetic testing to eliminate lesbians and gays from human society. Arcidi's response was based on PLAGAL's blue brochure -- Abortion, Another Name for Gay Bashing. Diversity also printed a cartoon musing over the conflicts within those elements in American politics that attempt to combine pro-life beliefs with anti gay sentiments.
The Washington Times reported on violence against pro-lifers on January 10, 1996. Among the many incidents discussed was the ouster of PLAGAL from Boston Pride in Spring, 1995.
The Washington Post, in its Saturday, January 27, 1996, Metro Section, carried an article discussing PLAGAL. The story focussed on the request by Nellie Gray of the March for Life that PLAGAL's marchers not carry their banner in the parade, and the reaction of other pro-life groups to her request.
The January 26th Washington Blade ran a front page story -- continued to a full page inside -- on PLAGAL's participation in the 1996 March for Life. Mary Jean Mulherin of Minneapolis was pictured in full color on the front page, with a group photo of PLAGAL's contingent -- with banner held high -- in black and white within. Philip Arcidi, Mary Jean Mulherin, and Donna Kearney of Rochester were quoted in the story, as was Rick Tafel, of Log Cabin Republicans. Tafel said, "I happen to be extremely pro-choice, but there are a lot more pro-life gays out there than we imagine." (Copy available by fax or mail)
Buck Harris, the host of The Gay Nineties, a program on Cleveland's WHK 1420 Radio invited Cecilia Holesovsky to appear on November 5, 1995. She discussed the boycott of Cleveland's AIDS Walk, which subsidizes local abortion clinics. The show received a number of interesting calls, and Cecilia felt that she was treated fairly. A possible repeat performance is the works.
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