Beware of hidden homophobia against LGBT organizationsPolitically Aware Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Commentary: Politically Aware
AIDS Walk and Run has traditionally been San Diego County’s single largest fundraiser for the fight against HIV/AIDS. Imagine that after walking, or sponsoring a friend, the AIDS Walk brain trust revealed that they would no longer give money to The San Diego LGBT Center or Family Health Centers, because a homophobic congressperson, lets say Rep. Michele Bachmann, launched an investigation into those organizations because they give out condoms, alleging that they encourage people to have sex and possibly spread HIV. How would you feel? Confused? Angry? Betrayed?
That should give you an idea of how progressive supporters of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure felt last Tuesday. After 30 years of funding a wide variety of organizations that fight breast cancer, Komen reported that they would no longer financially support Planned Parenthood, a critical provider of breast cancer screening and women’s health services, particularly for poor women and underserved communities. The given reason: A policy prevented the distribution of funds to organizations under investigation. Planned Parenthood, it turns out, is the subject of an investigation (read witch hunt) by Rep. Cliff Stearns, who believes they are using federal money to fund abortion.
Apparently the geniuses who thought this would fly didn’t know about the Internet. By Wednesday, the truth was out; the policy was new, and pushed through after the investigation against Planned Parenthood was started. The charge seemed to have been led by new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, who had vowed to end abortion in Georgia during her failed gubernatorial campaign. Facebook was atwitter with information and calls to defund Komen and support Planned Parenthood. Within 48 hours, New York mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomburg had pledged $250,000 to Planned Parenthood, over a third of what they stood to lose.
By Friday, Komen had reversed their decision, promising to “fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood.” This was allowed by amending their policy to ensure that delegitimizing investigations were “criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.” So we can all kiss and make up, and get back to fighting breast cancer, right? Not by a long shot, particularly in the LGBT community.
The spotlight shown on Komen’s pink ribbons reveal a streak of deep conservative red that should serve as a warning. Nancy Brinker, friend of Susan G. Komen and founder of her eponymous organization, was a major fundraiser for George W. Bush. In addition to her stance against abortion, Karen Handel is a flip-flopper who could teach Mitt Romney something. In her 2010 Republican primary for governor of Georgia, Handel ran against gay marriage and adoption, which played well until it was discovered that she had once been a member of the Log Cabin Republicans and signed a questionnaire supporting civil unions.
If Komen’s leaders don’t give you pause, their policies still should. The policy on investigations may have been revised, but Komen announced plans to restrict funding to organizations that don’t perform mammograms. Never mind that Komen’s recommendations disagree with the United States Preventative Services Task Force, or that Planned Parenthood performs breast exams on women who might otherwise not have access to basic breast cancer screening. Since Planned Parenthood doesn’t perform mammograms, next year’s funding is still in jeopardy. Clearly, Komen intends to continue targeting the LGBT community’s strongest ally on reproductive health and privacy issues. Could lesbian health organizations be next?
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