"Wise statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should set up the doctrine
that none but rich men, or none but white men, were entitled to life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the Declaration of Independence and take courage
to renew the battle which their fathers began...."
America’s Greatest President - Abraham Lincoln
During his 1858 debate with Stephen A. Douglas
As many of you are already aware, I was the co-organizer of Matthew Cusick's (a Gay Games Champion) protest campaign against Cirque de Soleil for HIV discrimination. However, it is with the memory of my cousins Roger Nash Baldwin (ACLU Founder & former Executive Director) that I now call upon the GLBT community (and all Americans) to take a stand against the great civil injustice now spreading across our country; and in fact around the world. Because surely if taxpaying Americans can now be denied access to public facilities, separate water foundations and the back of the bus can not be to far off in our future.
But first let me take you back to another place and another time.
1972 Munich Olympics
The Olympics have returned to Germany for the first time since 1936, when Nazism was just starting to hit its stride. Adolph Hitler hoped to use the Olympic Games as a platform to show off and promote the "superiority" of his new Aryan race.
Most Germans had hoped that those Munich Olympics would in some way help to heal the racial wounds caused during the Nazi Holocaust. However, the world was even then still a rife with much political unrest. The Vietnam War raged on, racial tensions throughout the United States persisted, and violence littered the Middle East. The German president Gustav Heinemann welcomed the Olympics as "a milestone on the road to a new way of life with the aim of realizing peaceful coexistence among peoples."
On the morning of September 5, 1972; with just six days left in the Games, the worst tragedy in history of the Olympic Games hit. Eight Palestinian terrorists stormed the Olympic village and raided the apartment building housing the Israeli athletes. Two Israeli athletes were killed and nine more were seized as hostages. The terrorists demanded the release of over 200 Palestinians then serving time in Israeli jails, along with two additional renowned German terrorists.
After a day of unsuccessful negotiations, the terrorists collected the hostages and headed for a military airport in Munich; for a flight that would have taken them back to the Middle East. At the airport, German sharpshooters opened fire, killing three of the Palestinians. An all out gun battle ensued, claiming the lives of all nine of the Israeli hostages, along with one German policeman and two of the terrorists.
2006 Chicago Gay Games
The world is still a rife with political unrest. The Iraqi War rages on, homophobic tensions throughout the United States persist and grow, and violence now still litters the Middle East.
The Crystal Lake Park District Commission has met and rejected the request of the Gay Games Organizing Committee's to hold a rowing competition in a public park. The Park Commissioner & Treasurer David Phelps tells the Chicago Tribune "I do not believe the Crystal Lake Park District should be [used as] a vehicle for the promotion of an agenda." However, Mr. Phelps fails to point out what political agenda he's referring to.
However, one Crystal Lake resident even went as far as to say that "homosexuality is contrary and detrimental" to traditional family values. However, a Unitarian minister named Rev. Dan Larson told the park commissioners the event should be approved, claiming that "everyone has a right to row their boat." Even the Catholic Church says that homosexuality is not a sin, nor is homosexuality against the laws of the State of Illinois or the United States of America.
Crystal Lake Park Commissioner Phelps, and the residents of Crystal Lake City believe the Gay Games are more about politics than they are about athletics, and their actions prove that some residents are prepared to use the Gay Games as a venue to forward their own political agenda. These taxpaying Americans members of Gay Games organizing committee applied for a permit to host an international rowing competition, not a permit to hold an orgy in a public park. Yet Crystal Lake allows the public access to the lake, via venues like the Crystal Lake Rowing Club and the Water Ski Association. (see below)
So Who Is Crystal Lake?
Before the Great American Depression hit, several Crystal Lake residents then concerned about public access to the lake formed the Crystal Lake Park District, which condemned 22 acres for the Main Beach and the park west of the beach. However the original condemnation did not include the bottom of the lake, and this would cause legal consternation for decades.
In 2000 the population of Crystal Lake was just about 38,000, 94.1% Caucasian (almost 40% above the state average of 75.1%), 0.06% African American (almost 98% below the state average of 15.1%) and 2.0% Asian American (almost 32% below the state average of 3.2%). Clearly homosexuals are not the only minority not welcome in the city of Crystal Lake. (click on the URL in "Who Is Crystal Lake? above)
Over the last several years the the lake area has become increasingly crowded, the city of Crystal Lake, the Crystal Lake Park District, the village of Lakewood, and a lakeshore property owners group continued to contest the lake's ownership and control. To alleviate the problem, the city of Crystal Lake devised a plan to create a lake from a large gravel pit on the southeast side of the city for public recreational use, essentially stealing the area originally set aside before the depression.
This is where our legal challenge has some teeth, this where we must make its stance! We simply want access to those 22 acres that were originally set aside for use by the public, and we do not care who owns the bottom of the lake; as we intend to only use the surface of the lake! We want the same access that it afforded to other member of the public, because we are law abiding and tax paying Americans!
Reminiscent of those 1972 Summer Olympics, again it is not the athletes pushing their own political agenda…but the political agenda of the bigots being pushed. In the memory of all of the homosexuals murdered in the Nazi concentration camps, and the nine Israeli Olympics athletes that were slaughtered at that Munich Airport by terrorists, as well all of the GLBT human beings persecuted around the world; we must now stand up and make a stand. It is what we do, because it is what America used to be all about!
Racism and bigotry does not lead to elitism, elitism breeds racism and bigotry; or at least delusions of elitism does!