February 15, 2000
Issue No. 38
Post Office Box 33292
Washington, DC 20033
A Newsletter for Members and Friends of the
Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians
With banner held high, with voices strong, with our lesbian and gay identity open for all to see, the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL) participated in the 2000 March for Life, joining over fifty thousand pro-lifers marching from the Ellipse to the Supreme Court. The Washington Metropolitan Police initially threatened arrest and, when they learned that most of the officers and members of PLAGAL were prepared to be arrested, subsequently attempted physically to block PLAGAL's entrance into the March. PLAGALites and a large number of friends and associates defied the initial orders of March President, Miss Nellie Gray, avoided the police barricade, and walked with the blue and pink PLAGAL banner on to Pennsylvania Avenue.
PLAGAL President Cecilia Brown stated, "We believe that the March for Life has been the annual focal point for the entire pro-life movement, not just for one element of it. To accept PLAGAL's ouster would not only send a false message that the pro-life movement was an exclusionary group, but it would betray our obligation to ourselves and to all of mankind to witness that human life begins at conception."
As has been the custom of "non-traditional" pro-life groups, PLAGAL gathered at the corner of 15th and Constitution Avenue at Noon to await the beginning of the March. There, PLAGAL was approached by Metropolitan Police officers, who advised PLAGAL that they had orders from Miss Gray that PLAGAL's banner could not be brought into the march. After the officers demanded that PLAGAL remove their banner because it contained the words "Lesbian" and "Gay," PLAGAL former President Moses Remedios slapped a "censored" label over the pink triangle and barely crossed out the offending words. PLAGAL subsequently avoided the police barricade by moving our banner up the street about a quarter block and stepped out onto Pennsylvania Avenue. The police officers showed no interest in pursuing us let alone arresting us. PLAGAL marchers then removed the tape covering the words "gays" and "lesbians," but decided to retain the "censored" label as a symbol of protest.
At the crest of Capitol Hill, PLAGAL stopped in front of the Russell Senate Office Building and distributed PLAGAL buttons, bumper stickers, and a flyer protesting our expected exclusion from the March to participants. After running out of materials, we then resumed the march, and saw none of our materials discarded on the street.
PLAGAL Past President Remedios said, "There apparently was some dissension in the March for Life leadership. Just in front of the Supreme Court, PLAGAL encountered Father Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life and a member or former member of the board of the March for Life. Fr. Pavone was very friendly -- as he had always been in the past -- and requested a photograph of himself standing before the PLAGAL banner with PLAGAL officers."
2000 ANNUAL MEETING
At PLAGAL's Annual Meeting on Sunday night, January 23, 2000, four women and eight men were elected to the Board of Directors: Philip J. Arcidi, of Massachusetts; Hugh Joseph Beard, of the District of Columbia; Cecilia Brown, of Ohio; John S. Buckley, of Virginia; Steven Wesley Cook, of California; Martha Goodson, of Florida; Christopher Hinkle, of the District of Columbia; Donna M. Kearney, of New York; Betty Ann Keener, of Pennsylvania; John Mina, of California; Moses Remedios, of California; and Thomas Sena, of the District of Columbia. Thereafter, the Board elected Cecilia Brown as President of PLAGAL.
The Annual Meeting referred the question of whether PLAGAL should undertake to oppose physician-assisted suicide (discussed in Issue 37 of the PLAGAL Memorandum) to a special committee to be appointed by the President. This committee will report its conclusions and recommendations to the 2001 Annual Meeting. Members particularly interested in this question and in serving on this committee should contact the President at CeciliaBrown@hotmail.com. The members also discussed plans for the Millennium March in April 2000, and the Tenth Anniversary Dinner of PLAGAL in September 2000 (See below). The planning for PLAGAL's operations at the March for Life the next day were well laid, and we were prepared for the worst. Happily, though, no PLAGAL officer or member needed to be arrested, though all were prepared for that possibility.
WOW!!! That is how I felt when I was approached about my nomination to be PLAGAL's first woman president! It was an honor for me to be elected into this position by the PLAGAL Board. We have had strong presidents in the past (founder Tom Sena, Mike Cerritelli, Philip Arcidi, and Moses Remedios) with a vision of where they wanted PLAGAL to go and how to get there. I will work diligently to lead PLAGAL into our tenth year, just as my predecessors have.
It is my goal to increase the visibility and size of PLAGAL, to encourage and support the start of more local chapters, and to motivate more PLAGALites to be come more active in PLAGAL and the pro-life movement. by working together we can reach these goals. I believe that we can make PLAGAL a strong organization who will have greater acceptability and credibility within both the pro-life and ther lesbian and gay communities.
I always welcome ideas and suggestions and would encourage all of you to submit them to either Joe Beard (PLAGALOne@aol.com) or myself. Let's work together to make this anniversary year the best yet!
CLIPPINGS AND CONTACTS
Again, we would like to remind our readers that PLAGAL needs the names (and addresses, voice and fax numbers, and e-mail addreses) of local gay and lesbian media, and when anything appears in the lesbian and gay media discussing the Pro-Life movement, or in any media discussing PLAGAL, 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. . .
In the January 25, 2000 edition of The Washington Post, page B-4, reported: "A handful of protesters also championed other causes. Dornan McKinney, 72, for example, drove a rattletrap 1969 vintage bus from Texas to rail against abortion, the Panama Canal Treaty and "sodomites." And members of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians marched behind their group's banners, despite being ordered by march organizers not to identify their affiliation. The group of about 20 simply stepped into the march a block or so beyond its starting point."
And the edition of The Washington Times of the same date, page C-2, noted: "Though the pro-life movement may be expanding, there are limits on what is accepted into it. Members of a group identifying itself as the 'Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians' was asked to leave and threatened with arrest." Then the Washington City Paper, quoted Cecilia Brown and Joe Beard in a half-page article entitled Roe v. Gay in its February 11th issue.
The Lesbian and Gay media provided fairly accurate and extensive coverage. On January 26th, The Chicago Free Press, printed a story on page 4, containing quotations from Cecilia Brown and Moses Remedios. Proving the benefit of competition, Chicago's other gay paper, The Windy City Times, out of Chicago, headlined -- with full color photo -- the events of January 24th in its February 3, 2000, edition, and published another photo of PLAGALites Cecilia Brown and Joe Beard on page 4. The story contained extensive quotes from PLAGAL's former President, Moses Remedios. The Washington Blade reported the March incident, and published a Letter to the Editor from a PLAGALite. Items also appeared in the Baltimore Gay Paper, The Baltimore Alternative, Cleveland's Gay People's Chronicle, and the Seattle Gay Paper.
PP BOYCOTTING WAL-MART
Planned Parenthood (PP) is planning to boycott Wal-Mart because Wal-Mart will not sell Preven. According to PP, Preven is considered the "day after" contraceptive.
Planned Parenthood is asking all women, along with all the men who agree with a woman's right to choose, to boycott Wal-Mart. They urge them to write letting Wall-Mart management know why they are being boycotted. (Source: Infonet)
We do not believe that Preven is a contraceptive because, according to the medical profession, by the time Preven is applied the egg in the mother's womb is already fertilized. It's more of an abortion device than a preventive measure.
If you should choose to stand up for what YOU think is right, direct your e-mail to Wall-Mart at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject: PREVEN.
The following correspondence is noted:
I was very disappointed in PLAGAL's actions at the march for life in Washington on January 24th. The point of the March is to end the evil that is abortion. It is not a March for any other politics. If PLAGAL really cares about the unborn, next year they will march without their banner in support of life. Is PLAGAL planning on marching in GAY PRIDE this year under your banner? I bet you will be no more welcome there then you were at March for Life 2000! I will gladly march along side of any PLAGAL member in March for Life2001 if you leave your banner at home and march for life and life alone! -- (Name Omitted)
PLAGAL participated in Gay and Lesbian Prides in Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, DC. We hope to increase the number of cities in which we participate in 2000. It is the same banner -- except where there are two or more pride events on the same weekend, when we have to prioritize. The flyers we distribute are different -- because it is a different audience -- but we distribute about the same number. The welcome -- to judge from the past -- will be similar: Some will oppose us, many will be overjoyed to see us, and others will ignore us. Once -- in Boston in 1995 -- we were threatened and force to withdraw. This has not happened since then in Boston, and never in the other cities.
We would be proud to have you and any other pro-lifer march beside us, in the March for Life or any lesbian and gay pride, but we do not hide who were are -- anywhere.
Regards, and best wishes in the cause of the unborn:
I couldn't let your email to PLAGAL go without commenting on it. I'm sorry that you feel like you do - but why should we be the only group out of the thousands there not able to carry their signs? Every other group carries signs saying who they are, and where they're from - identifying all sorts of things that have nothing to do with being pro-life - for instance, what does being from Pittsburgh, or Ireland, or being a seminarian or all those bright red Tradition Family Property signs have to do with being pro-life? What about Transformation Ministries (the supposedly ex-gay group). Their signs don' even have anything about being pro-life on them! The purpose of the signs is to identify who they are, and what they believe.
Our sign simply identifies who we are, and what we believe! Just like everyone else. We are who God made us to be - gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered. Are you implying that our lives are less worthy than other people's? That doesn't sound very pro-life. Maybe our parents should have just aborted us? You do realize that once they do find the genetic marker for homosexuality, narrow-minded religious bigots who think we are less than human will run -- not walk -- to their nearest abortion clinic to abort their little faggot fetusus. That is one of the reasons we are both proudly gay and proudly pro-life.
Your implication that we do not care about the unborn is grossly inaccurate. For your information, this was my 17th March for Life. I have worked for pro-life political candidates since 1980, protested at several abortion clinics, was the political and legislative liaison for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation for the PA 9th Congressional District for the Bush/Quayle campaign, been interviewed numerous times on pro-life issues for several media presentations, organized my counties first Life Chain, which brought out over 1100 pro-life protesters, participated in the national launch for the pro-life Contract for American Women, and on a personal note, helped saved my niece from being aborted, and saved several other children by counseling with their mothers while I was a teacher in a public high school.
The pro-life credentials of my fellow PLAGALites are beyond reproach. I'm sure they can fill up more space than I have with their activities on behalf of the unborn.
When will people be honest and admit that the reason you don't want us to carry our sign is that you are prejudiced against gay/lesbian people? There are none so blind as those who refuse to see. Remember that Hate is not a family value.
Sincerely in Life,
Betty Ann (BA) Keener
LINDA CHAVEZ ON
THE DEMOCRAT PARTY AND ABORTION
by Linda Chavez, Nationally Syndicated Columnist
Here's a political quiz: Which major political party is most out of step with the American people on the contentious issue of abortion? Which party has refused to allow elected officials who disagree with the party platform on abortion to address the party convention? In which party is it more dangerous for a presidential candidate to disagree, even slightly, with the party's platform?
The answer to all three is the Democratic Party. Surprised? Don't be. The fact is, the unpopularity of the Democrats' radical position on abortion is the best kept secret in American politics. For 20 years, the media has characterized the Republican Party's pro-life platform as extremist, while portraying the Democrats' position as mainstream. But public-opinion polls tell a different story.
First, neither party's platform represents the majority position on abortion. The Republicans oppose abortion in all circumstances, except to save the life of the mother. The Democrats favor a woman's absolute right to abortion at any time during pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever, including sex selection. Only about 20 percent of Americans hold views at these extremes of the abortion debate, and of these, somewhat more--13 percent--agree with the Republican Party platform on the issue.
Most Americans are ambivalent on abortion. They don't necessarily want to ban abortion, but they do want limits on the procedure.
In-depth polls in recent years show 74 percent of Americans endorse mandatory 24-hour waiting periods; 73 percent support prohibition of abortion after the first three months of pregnancy, except to save the mother's life; and 74 percent favor parental-consent requirements for pregnant minors. Moreover, support for restrictions on abortion has been going up in the last several years.
So, if most Americans want to restrict access to abortion--even if they don't want to outlaw abortion outright, as the Republicans favor--why is it the Democrats get such a free ride on this issue? Perhaps, it's because the Democrats' position seems the more tolerant one. But in reality, the Democratic Party is anything but tolerant on the abortion debate.
Democrats, after all, are the ones who kept a pro-life Democratic governor, Robert Casey from Pennsylvania, from addressing their national convention in 1992. And as Al Gore can attest, any Democrat who hopes to win his party's presidential nomination had better toe the line 100 percent on abortion.
Last week, Gore found himself having to defend his abortion voting record in Congress. Like most Americans--more than 80 percent, according to the polls--Al Gore opposed federal funding of abortions when he was a member of Congress. He voted pro-life 84 percent of the time he served in the House of Representatives, according to the National Right-to-Life Committee. In 1977, he even supported an amendment that said abortion "takes the life of an unborn child who is a living human being," a view held by a plurality of Americans, 46 percent.
But Gore thinks he can't win his party's nomination if he is perceived as even slightly hesitant on a woman's absolute right to abortion at any time, under any circumstances, for whatever reason. So, not only has he changed his position to be in lock step with the party's platform, but he has denied that he ever had any qualms about the issue. Last week, in New Hampshire, Gore contended, "I've always supported Roe vs. Wade. I have always supported a woman's right to choose," despite votes and statements to the contrary.
Apparently, Gore would rather lie about his record than have to defend a position that puts him in the mainstream of public opinion, so fearful is he that his party will deny him the nomination if he shows any ambivalence.
"This is not an issue you can straddle. You can't be on both sides; you have to decide which side you're on," Gore's opponent Bill Bradley warned him repeatedly in New Hampshire.
Well, maybe not if you're a Democratic candidate. But most Americans find themselves right smack in the middle on this issue, regardless of what the Democratic Party insists.
PRO-LIFERS BUY INTO MYTH
Many pro-lifers know that women who give birth have (on average) longer life spans (via lower risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer, etc.) than women who never give birth.
However, many if not most pro-lifers believe that in the very short term (i.e. nine months) the mortality risk of a full-term pregnancy is much higher compared to women who have induced abortions. This must be true, since articles have appeared in high profile medical journals 'proving' this to be the case, right? Wrong!
Yes, there have been articles purporting to prove that pregnancy has a higher mortality risk than induced abortion but these studies are patently incompetent. Why this is so is best illustrated via a 'made-up' example: Let's say that YOU are a biased researcher who wants to prove that exercise is very dangerous and
carries a higher mortality risk compared to zero exercise. You enroll 5,000 people who do at least moderate exercise every week into your study; and you enroll 5,000 people who do zero exercise into your study. YOUR study lasts fifteen (15) years. Your results:
Your conclusion: exercisers have a higher mortality risk than do non-exercisers. Can you spot the glaring error in YOUR study? YOU have ignored that stroke deaths, cancer deaths, heart attack deaths, etc. were much higher in non-exercise group than the exercise group. Technically, the failure would be termed: Not measuring ALL-CAUSE mortality. This is exactly the same error made by authors such as Dr. David A. Grimes. For details of why the exercise example above is a close parallel to what is done in 'term pregnancies vs. abortions' studies, see the article below (and send a copy to a pro-life friend):
IBM Bankrupt, Babe Ruth a dud,
Childbirth more deadly than cyanide
Article in the Public Domain
You were thinking of buying some shares of computing giant IBM and thus, asked an accountant friend to read IBM's balance sheet. He tells you that IBM is billions of dollars 'in the red', probably on the brink of bankruptcy. When you say that IBM has billions of assets that more than match its liabilities, your friend turns beet red, admitting that he only read the liability section.
Should he quit the accountancy field and seek other employment? Yes! He should join Dr. David A. Grimes, et al., in the field of proving that induced abortion is much safer than childbirth. To do so, he must lower his standards much further to sink to the level of 'Grimes'. Proof? Consider a 1982 study, co-authored by Dr. Grimes and Willard Cates, that asserts, "In terms of dying, abortion through the 15th week of pregnancy is at least tenfold [!!!] safer than childbearing." Is there anything wrong with the 'Grimes' 'balance sheet'? Let's assume for the moment that both induced abortion and childbirth cause a NET loss of life (compared to women of the same age and never pregnant). It was known before 1974 that a full-term pregnancy at a young age substantially protects against breast cancer. If one assumes that an induced abortion of a first pregnancy results in an average delay of five (5) years of a term birth, this makes induced abortion 100 times more deadly than childbirth. Where in the 'Grimes' article is there a mention of age at first birth and breast cancer risk? Where???? Nowhere, that's where -- making this omission monumental error #1 for 'Grimes ' & company.
What is monumental error #2 for 'Grimes'? Like your friend reading IBM's balance sheet , 'Grimes' ignores the asset side of the 'balance sheet'; i.e. full-term pregnancies save lives. How? What is the number one killer of young people, ages 15-24? 'Car Crashes,' which should surprise no one. Are pregnant women much less likely to die in car crashes than non-pregnant women? Yes, over 80% less likely. Consider the period 1974-1978, when about 16,200,000 U.S. women had term births. An astonishingly low 41 pregnant women died in traffic accidents during 1974-1978. How many 'car crash' deaths does pregnancy prevent? Approximately 13 per 100,000 pregnant women per year. An alert reader will notice that the 1985 'maternal mortality' report was published 3 years after the 'Grimes' article. True, but one will search in vain
for articles by David Grimes or any other apologist for 'blind elective surgery' admitting that pregnant moms have a much lower risk of 'car crash death'. Is it possible that David A. Grimes never read the 1985 report in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology? No. Dr. David A. Grimes is one of the authors of that report and so, must have read it. Also, not mentioned by apologists is the lower risk of suicide during and after full-term birth. Also, women who have induced abortions are more likely to become smokers and thus, die from lung cancer.
Now, why was Babe Ruth a 'dud'? George Herman ('Babe') Ruth struck out over 1,000 times during his brilliant baseball career. So, if one just concentrates on the over 1,000 'whiffs' and ignores the extra base hits (including 714 home runs), then the 'Babe' was a real clinker. People who gauge performance thus, should join 'Dr.' David Grimes in whitewashing induced abortion as safe as a walk in the park. As for the rest of us, spread the word: Live Longer, have a full-term pregnancy; [Men should not attempt this!]
SENA COMMENTS ON THE MARCH
Garance Franke-Ruta's February 11 article [in the Washington, DC, City Paper], about PLAGAL's threat of arrest from the upper echelons of the March for Life, will open some eyes. Long gone are the days when in order to be a good little gay or lesbian, you had buy unthinkingly into abortion rights. PLAGAL's existence proves that there's as much healthy diversity of opinion on this subject in our community as on anything else. While it's an eye-opener, however, the article offers only the bad part of the total picture.
Yes, we were threatened with arrest. Yes, we marched. Yes, we'll be back at the March next year, in full force and prepared for whatever may happen. But what readers also should know--and what the article failed almost completely to mention--is that the threat and bigotry we faced came from a tiny group of control freaks at the March's top, who can't get it through their heads that being pro-life does not instantly involve being antigay, David Smith of the Human Rights Campaign notwithstanding (who is no expert on the pro-life movement, and would do better to stick to topics he at least knows about).
It's understandable that the article would thump on about the bigots at the March's helm and our refusal to kowtow to them; conflict and controversy are news, after all. But what went almost completely unnoted was just as important: the warm support, born of justice and fairness, given us at the March by practically all the other pro-lifers around us. When they realized the March's organizers were trying to hassle us out of Dodge, they planted themselves immediately on our side. The article did mention people shouting, "Let them march!" and "What about free speech?", but failed to point out the larger groundswell underneath. Our sexual orientation made no difference to these friends; all they cared about was that we were there for the same reason they were. Nothing else mattered. We were pro-life. That was enough for them.
This is typical of grassroots pro-lifers. Sure, you have the stray malcontent who chafes at the mere sight of PLAGAL (we have just as many, if not more, anti-life bigots in the gay and lesbian communities), but by and large, pro-lifers simply don't care. We stand with them in solidarity for the lives of unborn children, they welcome us, and that's that. The regular Joe and Jane Pro-lifer couldn't care less about checking our credentials or suspecting our "agenda". And with only a few exceptions, this has been our experience at every March for Life since we became involved in 1991. (I was at that 1991 March. As we strode along bearing signs reading "Gay and Pro-Life", a group of college students rushed us, shouting, "We don't believe we're seeing this! Can we shake your hands!" And they did.)
This doesn't make news, but it should. A sea-change is starting to unfold both in mainstream perception of the pro-life movement and in the pro-life movement itself. The days are numbered for the old view that the movement is made up only of die-hard, closed-minded dogmatists, as PLAGAL and other groups such as Feminists for Life make their presence in it widely and consistently known. And the movement itself is responding to our presence: as more pro-lifers become aware of us, any lingering questions about us are fading. Of its own weight, the movement is shedding its monolithic image and opening itself up to pro-lifers it never dreamed existed ten or fifteen years ago. This is nothing but good news for the unborn child's life, because it means she has ever more defenders flocking to her and her mother's side -- defenders who previously might never have realized how important their untraditional voices are.
In my small and humble way, I pride myself that I can take some credit for that. I am the founder of the Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians. I do not speak for PLAGAL, but PLAGAL certainly speaks for me, and for all the rest of us in our community who are brave enough to think for ourselves about abortion and speak out against it. I submit that the real story here is the transformation of the pro-life movement itself, and not the dinosaurs who head the March for Life only for the time being.
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