Why Did the HHS Website Get Rid of Its Pages on LGBT Pride?:
Here's one of those moments where the Rude Pundit wonders, "Umm, has anyone seen anything about this?" See, the Rude Pundit gets regular updates from the Family Research Council, having joined up for the Super Duper Prayer Team (Alito, you know, answered our prayers). And in yesterday's Washington Update, FRC's President, Tony Perkins, informs us:
"We've reported to you on the homosexual website at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). When some of you wrote to HHS to criticize this misuse of taxpayer dollars, you received anonymous, abusive, and even threatening responses. I protested this vigorously in a letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. Recently, I received a call from Rick Campanelli, legal counsel to Leavitt. He acknowledged that the website had been taken down and that the unidentified contractor employee responsible for the abusive replies had been fired. That's fine--as far as that goes. But Mr. Campanelli did not explain how HHS became involved in promoting the unhealthy homosexual lifestyle in the first place. We had pointed out the medical inaccuracies that were promoted by the website. Nor did Mr. Campanelli explain to me how HHS could allow a contractor to speak for the largest federal department on such a vital matter. To be fair, many of the replies received to your expressions of concern were civil and respectful--if noncommittal.
"What this episode shows us is that even under a friendly, pro-family administration, the bureaucracy can run amok. As a former elected official, I understand the importance of public servants truly serving the public in both word and deed. I share the outrage of those who received the abusive responses from HHS. I can assure you, FRC will not turn a blind eye to the abuse of tax dollars or tax payers."
A little bit of digging later, and the Rude Pundit discovered this was first mentioned by the FRC on January 11, 2006, about how HHS had created a web page devoted to issues of pride and diversity among lesbians, gays, bis, and transgenders. Pam at Pandagon discussed it. She also commented on the removal of the website a mere 12 days later (actually, it was only 9 days). Seems it used to look like this Google cache and now looks like this, wiped clean.
On January 27, Perkins posted the letter of thanks he wrote to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt: "I am writing to express my thanks to you and to staff at the Department of Health and Human Services for responding to the concerns raised by the Family Research Council and our constituents regarding the content of a website sponsored by your Department's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration." The site was created to confront higher rates of substance abuse among homosexuals, but, said Perkins, "this website was loaded with biased, politically-charged language, such as condemnations of so-called 'homophobia,' 'heterosexism,' and 'sexual prejudice.'"
Indeed, so well-scrubbed (or going through "revision," according to the replacement page) that virtually none of the links that would dare tell LGBT people to be proud of their existence or inform the public of things that might have created "tolerance" and "understanding" remain. However, you know what? Fuck the FRC.
Here's a Google cache of the "Who Is Gay" page, the "Youth and Suicide" page, the "Substance Abuse" page, the "Why Celebrate" page, the "Substance Abuse Treatment" page, the information page on "Social Support and Violence Prevention." There's a lot more cached you can find to see the ludicrously uncontroversial and mild suggestions for a peaceful, non-hating society that HHS would dare to try to help create.
And, sssh, HHS didn't take down the page on "Social Support and Violence Prevention". It teaches you how to "celebrate diversity" when a friend comes out to you. They didn't take down the page that links to gay male stories. There's others, but, most importantly, HHS didn't take down the Resources page. Don't tell Tony Perkins or he might, you know, go psycho.
Conclusions? 1) The scrub was done hastily and incompletely and incompetently, like everything in the Bush administration. 2) HHS knuckled under to the FRC crowd, and while it ain't exactly burning the Danish flag, it's certainly the government censoring information based on Christian fundamentalism. The Rude Pundit guesses their tax dollars matter more than the rest of ours. 3) Apparently, the sin of Pride is off the radar for Tony Perkins as he constantly crows like a mad rooster (or, you know, cock) about the FRC's crazed triumphs over thought and reason.
(Has anyone heard from HHS explaining this?)