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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Gay Marriage Amendment Compared To Nazism

(Richmond, Virginia) Virginia's Senate Monday voted 30-10 in favor of a proposed amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

During an intense debate on the issue opponents of the measure likened it to the Nazis' treatment of Jews.

"There is nothing ennobling about Senate Joint Resolution 337. It is xenophobia that led to the rise of Nazism in Germany and fascism in Italy. It is homophobia that brings us to this place in time today," said Mamie E. Locke (D-Hampton).

Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax County) went further, saying Virginia has begun stigmatizing people because of their sexuality just as the Nazis did. Jews, she said, were required in concentration camps to wear yellow patches; political prisoners wore red ones; and homosexuals got pink.

"First, there were small infringements on rights, infringements perpetrated by elected representatives (who said) that's what the people want. Some religious leaders participated, misusing Biblical text to justify their deeds," Howell said.

"In Virginia today, we do not require pink triangles. We stigmatize and marginalize people in other ways as we go down a path that we don't know where it will end," she said.

The amendment's Senate sponsor, Sen. Stephen D. Newman (R-Lynchburg) said protecting traditional is nothing like Nazism. Newman said that without the measure, Virginia could be forced to honor gay marriages established in states where gay marriages are legal such as Massachusetts.

But, Sen. Kenneth Cuccinelli (R-Fairfax County) said there was nothing wrong with discriminating against gays.

Cuccinelli, noting that homosexuality was illegal for most of Virginia's history until the U.S. Supreme Court forced the state to get rid of the law denounced what he called "the tyranny of judges".

A similar amendment proposal is before the House where it is also expected to win overwhelmingly.

Gad Beck
Gad Beck a gay Jew who survived in Nazi Berlin,
shown in a displaced persons camp in Germany, circa 1945–47.
Gad Beck, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum #46129

For decades after 1945, the persecution of homosexuals by the Nazi regime remained unnoted, and those who survived the camps continued to face intolerance and discrimination. Klaus Müller explored how that lack of recognition and ongoing criminalization of homosexuality marked the lives of the men formerly stigmatized by the pink triangle and resulted in a dearth of historical documentation and a gap in knowledge that persists to this day.

Men with the Pink Triangle

Recent historical research, film documentaries, and exhibitions have increased public awareness and led to advances in the political and moral recognition of homosexuals as victims of the Nazi regime. Using videos, photographs, and other materials, the lecture explores how these significant changes have affected the few homosexual men who survived the war and are still alive today.

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