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HRC CALLS ANTI-GAY HELMS AMENDMENT POLITICAL POSTURING DESIGNED TO INTIMIDATE THOSE WHO VALUE EQUALITY AND OPPOSE DISCRIMINATION

NEWS from the Human Rights Campaign 919 18th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006 email: hrc@hrc.org http://www.hrc.org
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 14, 2001

Helms Amendment Accomplishes Nothing But Sending An Anti-Gay Message, Says HRC WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign called today's passage of an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., a blatant example of political posturing that has nothing to do with improving education in this country. The Helms amendment, which passed 52 to 48, prohibits federal funding to schools that choose not to offer facilities to Boy Scout troops because of their discriminatory policy banning gay scouts. However, the measure is pointless, because the Constitution already dictates that the Boy Scouts
have equal access to school facilities, asserts HRC.

"The Boy Scouts already have complete and unbridled access to all community facilities in which the general public has access," says HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. "The purpose of the Helms amendment is to bully schools into granting the Boy Scouts special privileges not offered to other groups. This is really an underhanded attempt to reward those who
practice discrimination and punish those who value equality." The courts have already ruled that school districts must allow the Boy Scouts to have equal access to public facilities, just like any other group. But school districts are still entitled to deny the Boy Scouts special benefits not offered to other groups. For instance, as the U.S. District Court explained, local school
districts are not required to "endorse, participate, or solicit others to participate in Boy Scouts activities." What the Helms amendment seeks to do is intimidate school officials into continuing to offer the Boy Scouts these special privileges, even if their discriminatory policy conflicts with a community's values and standards, says HRC.

"This is really about forcing Helms' anti-gay viewpoint on local school districts across America," said Stachelberg. "It is
putting the congressional stamp of approval on exclusionary behavior by having the Senate officially say that 'discrimination is good.' We believe this sends a terrible message that conflicts with the values of most Americans." Helms said on the Senate floor that "radical militants" were trying to ban the Boy Scouts from campuses. He also said they [gay activists] "demand that everybody else's principles must be cast aside in order to protect the right of homosexual conduct."

On May 23, the House passed a similar anti-gay amendment sponsored by Rep. Van Hilleary, R-Tenn. The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community. - 30 -
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"The Real or Perceived Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered Student Protection Project" ("Being safe at school should not be a radical concept".. Jamie Nabozny) A project of: Coalition for Safer Schools of New York State John Myers
Director of Operations and Programs PO Box 2345 Malta, NY 12020 (518) 587-0176 Email: saratogany@aol.com (To subscribe or unsubscribe (CSS-NYS Email List) send request to saratogany@aol.com)


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