Prop. 64 Feud Between Gays, LaRouche Backers Grows
In recent days, a long-festering feud between the main combatants over Proposition 64--gays and followers of Lyndon H. LaRouche--has erupted into the political equivalent of open warfare.
When about 2,000 opponents marched past LaRouche’s local offices Monday night, they carried signs comparing the ultraconservative presidential candidate to Hitler and accused him of planning to lock up people infected with AIDS in concentration camps. At a rally nearby after the march, it was the insults to LaRouche’s character that drew the loudest cheers.
Nothing in the initiative calls for detention centers for AIDS victims, and most opponents admit that it is unlikely that the measure would cause anyone to be quarantined. But the largely gay contingent was worried by anti-gay remarks and calls for quarantine that have been carried in various LaRouche publications.
Executive Intelligence Review, a magazine founded by LaRouche and published by one of his Virginia enterprises, referred to an aide of New York Gov. Mario Cuomo as “one of the nation’s leading perverts for 15 years” when it reported his AIDS-related death in March.
In 1982, LaRouche issued a tome called “Kissinger, the Politics of Faggotry” that described how former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger--whom LaRouche has declared a major nemesis--”is not a Jew but a faggot. . . . His heathen sexual inclinations are merely an integral part of a larger evil.”
With that in the background, many gays assumed that they are the real target of Proposition 64, which would classify anyone infected with AIDS as suffering a “communicable disease.” The initiative, according to state officials, would bar anyone who tests positive for AIDS antibodies from schools and jobs handling food and would cripple the drive to control AIDS.
Proposition 64 backers say they do not consider acquired immune deficiency syndrome a gay disease and have not aimed the measure at gays. But suspicions among gays were heightened last week when New Solidarity, a newspaper affiliated with LaRouche, printed a column attacking the plans for Monday’s night rally.
The column ran under a picture showing gay protesters and the caption “Sodom and Gomorrah on the march--for the ‘civil right’ to spread AIDS.” The article also said state Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp, whose office is investigating the signature-gathering process for Proposition 64, was using a “Gaystapo” to harass the initiative’s sponsors.
On Tuesday, the measure’s chief sponsor, longtime LaRouche follower Khushro Ghandhi, made a point of disavowing one comment that gays had taken as an attack.
New Solidarity said in its Sept. 12 issue that the march by gays Monday night had been called a “public health threat” by officials of the Prevent AIDS Now Initiative Committee. Ghandhi, who is president of the committee, said the campaign for Proposition 64 is independent, even though its press releases and statements are distributed under the banner of the newspaper’s New Solidarity International Press Service. “I never said it was a public health threat,” Ghandhi said.
However, he stuck by a New Solidarity International Press Service dispatch that described the march as a “terrorist incident” and which quoted Ghandhi as warning public officials, including Los Angeles City Councilmen Joel Wachs and Michael Woo, that they would be held responsible for any violence.
As it turned out, the rally Monday night went without incident, although it briefly blocked access to the Golden State Freeway at Los Feliz Boulevard. By some estimates, more than 2,000 Proposition 64 opponents marched by twos past the LaRouche offices, many of them chanting angry slogans. The line then reversed and the protesters gathered in a nearby park for speeches.
Before the march, the crowd’s emotions were fired up at a rally where speakers from a more-militant group of Proposition 64 opponents called the Stop The AIDS Quarantine Committee said the measure would force anyone suspected of infection with AIDS into concentration camps.
Michael Weinstein, a Silver Lake businessman who helped organize the rally, acknowledged Tuesday that the measure does not require health officials to even quarantine AIDS victims, let alone ship them off to camps. But he said the hyperbole was justified because if Proposition 64 passes the political atmosphere could pressure some health officials into using their quarantine powers against AIDS.
The hard-line stance puts the group sharply at odds with other organizations fighting Proposition 64, including the statewide Stop LaRouche/No on 64 campaign that will oversee the main media and grass-roots effort. That organization has avoided using the quarantine threat to protect its credibility.
By most accounts, the initiative would leave any decision to quarantine to health officials, who already have broad powers to quarantine for a variety of diseases, including AIDS. Medical leaders, including state Health Director Kenneth Kizer and the California Medical Assn., have said quarantine would be ineffective against AIDS.
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