Gays Banned From National Parks Civil Service Group Says
(Washington, D.C.) All images of gay gatherings at national sites, including the Millennium March on the Washington Mall have been ordered removed from videotapes that have been shown at the Lincoln Memorial since 1995 according to a civil service group.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) says that the directive came from National Parks Service Deputy Director Donald Murphy. Murphy is said to have been concerned about pictures in the video that showed same-sex couples kissing and holding hands after conservative groups complained.
The Millennium March held in 2000 to bring attention to LGBT civil rights issues drew tens of thousands of gays and their supporters to the mall for one of the biggest demonstrations since the civil rights and anti-war marches of the 1960s.
Also ordered cut from the tape were scenes of abortion rights demonstrations at the memorial, and anti-Vietnam War demonstrations "because it implies that Lincoln would have supported homosexual and abortion rights as well as feminism."
In their place, the Park Service is inserting scenes of the Christian group Promise Keepers and pro-Gulf War demonstrators though these events did not take place at the Memorial in what Murphy calls a "more balanced" version.
"The Park Service leadership now caters exclusively to conservative Christian fundamentalist groups," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "The Bush Administration appears to be sponsoring a program of Faith-Based Parks."
Last July, Murphy ordered the Grand Canyon National Park to return three bronze plaques bearing biblical verses to public viewing areas on the Canyon's South Rim. Murphy overruled the park superintendent who had directed the plaques' removal based on legal advice from the Interior Department that the religious displays violated the First Amendment.
This fall, the Park Service also approved a creationist text, "Grand Canyon: A Different View" for sale in park bookstores and museums. The book by Tom Vail, claims that the Grand Canyon is really only a few thousand years old, developing on a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale. At the same time, Park Service leadership has blocked publication of guidance for park rangers and other interpretative staff that labeled creationism as lacking any scientific basis.
The Park Service is also engaged in an extended legal battle to continue displaying an eight-foot-tall cross, planted atop a 30-foot-high rock outcropping in the Mojave National Preserve in California. PEER Board Member and former-Park Service manager Frank Buono filed suit to force removal of the cross. That suit is now pending before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.