Press

NGLTF: Sheldon’s Remarks ‘Divisive and Inhumane’

Date: 
October 05, 2001

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force today criticized comments by Rev. Lou Sheldon. Yesterday, Sheldon urged the government and private relief agencies to discriminate against gay victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks by denying them disaster aid.

In today’s edition of The Washington Post, Sheldon is further quoted as saying that relief organizations "should be first giving priority to those widows who were at home with their babies and those widowers who lost their wives." He further suggested that aid "should be given on the basis and priority of one man and one woman in a marital relationship."

"Lou Sheldon’s hateful rhetoric has again crossed the line," said Lorri L. Jean, executive director of NGLTF. "This is a time when everyone should stand united in support of the terrorism victims. September 11 proved that heroism knows no sexual orientation. It is divisive and inhumane to suggest that relief workers turn their backs on any victim of this horrible tragedy."

Sheldon's comments were in response to reports that relief agencies like the Red Cross are providing disaster assistance to all victims and their families, without discrimination. In an ironically transparent statement, Sheldon lashed out at the GLBT organizations – especially New York's Empire State Pride Agenda – that are working with relief agencies to help ensure that assistance is dispensed in a nondiscriminatory way. Sheldon accused such GLBT organizations of "taking advantage of this national tragedy to promote their agenda."

"Once again, Sheldon is out of step with the rest of the country. He is taking the 'get back to business' mantra to the extreme by not skipping a beat in promoting the same narrow and hateful agenda that has been his trademark for years," Jean continued. "I sincerely hope that the American people will rise up in protest against Sheldon’s fanaticism, just as they did against Jerry Falwell’s," Jean said, referencing the controversy provoked when evangelist Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson suggested that the United States may have brought the terrorist attacks on itself because of the activities of "pagans, feminists, gays, and lesbians."

The New York-based Stonewall Community Foundation has established the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Disaster Relief Fund to help those GLBT individuals directly impacted by the World Trade Center disaster. The tax-deductible donations will be allocated by a community panel to where the greatest unmet needs of the community are, either through existing relief funds that are practicing in a nondiscriminatory way or through the creation of new services to meet unmet needs.

Checks should be made payable to Stonewall Community Foundation, earmarked for "Disaster Relief." Donations should be sent to: Stonewall Community Foundation, 119 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011. The Foundation's phones are out of service due to the disaster, but they can be reached by email at robinj@stonewallfoundation.org or through a temporary number 646-230-6999.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.