LGBT groups condemn anti-Muslim hearings

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

A coalition of LGBT leaders added their voices to the chorus challenging U.S. Rep. Pete King’s hearings on “Muslim radicalization.”

The first hearing took place March 10 on Capitol Hill, with King, R-New York, claiming a congressional conversation on terror and Islam in America would advance the fight against al-Qaida.

Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, told the committee, “This … approach to this particular subject, I believe, is contrary to the best of American values and threatens our security, or could potentially.”

Other Democrats had urged King to broaden the focus of the hearings to extremism in America and to include white supremacy.

King, in a statement at the start of the hearings, said white supremacists are not a terror threat.

“There is no equivalency of threat between al Qaeda and neo-Nazis, environmental extremists or other isolated madmen,” King said. “Only al- Qaeda and its Islamist affiliates in this country are part of an international threat to our nation. Indeed by the Justice Department’s own record not one terror related case in the last two years involved neo-Nazis, environmental extremists, militias or anti-war groups.”

Later, King said, he plans to hold a hearing on Muslim extremism in U.S. prisons.

“Despite what passes for conventional wisdom in certain circles, there is nothing radical or un-American in holding these hearings,” King said.

Protesters assembled to picket the March 10 hearing, and numerous organizations issued statements accusing King of scapegoating Muslims.

In the LGBT community, representatives from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, National Center for Transgender Equality, Transgender Law Center, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and Lambda Legal issued statements condemning the House hearings.

“As members of the LGBT community, which continues to fight for our equality and justice, we stand in solidarity with the growing chorus of voices condemning these shameful hearings and calling for an end to the politics of irrationality and fear,” said NCLR director Kate Kendell.

Added Lambda Legal executive director Kevin Cathcart: “We’ve all been down this road before, most notably during World War II and the Cold War, with tragic consequences for tens of thousands of American citizens. Singling any group out as a whole because of a suspected lack of loyalty on the part of a few of its members is wrong.”

The hearings reminded Catchart of the 1950s inquests led by Joe McCarthy, who targeted gay people as dangerous and un-American.

“Singling any group out as a whole because of a suspected lack of loyalty on the part of a few of its members is wrong; doing it when the internment of Japanese-Americans and the spectacle of the McCarthy witch trials are still within living memory is simply repugnant,” he said.