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Censoring history: the National Park Service has reportedly reversed a decision to edit gay images out of a Lincoln Memorial video. But history may still be altered.

Are the nation's historical records of the gay rights struggle being threatened by political ideology'? It appears that was the case in a tussle over the content of an eight-minute video shown to tourists at the Lincoln Memorial.

Under pressure from far-fight Christian groups and lawmakers, including "Kansas Republican congressman Todd Tiahrt, the National Park Service reportedly decided to cut certain images from the video, including those of the pro-gay Millenium March in Washington in 2000. In response to the ensuing outcry, a spokesman for the park service assured gay rights activists that those images--and those of an abortion fights rally and an antiwar demonstration--would remain in the video. But new images, including a gathering of the Christian group Promise Keepers and a pro-Gulf War demons[mien, would be added to provide a "more balanced" view, he said, even though those events did not take place at the memorial.

The move "raises questions about how the National Park Service is handling its duly as custodians of history," said Jeff Ruth, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the watchdog group that broke the story in late December. "They're supposed to be safeguarding history, not altering it to suit political pressures." Several sources inside the park service told Ruth that NPS deputy director Donald Murphy had ordered the tape censored. Murphy's directive, Ruch said, is the result of a "pattern of political appointees of the Bush administration accommodating right-wing mad Christian fundamentalist groups about how religious views are displayed at parks." Among them is the promotion at a Grand Canyon bookstore of a "creationist" text, which takes a biblical view of the canyon's formation; the reinstatement of biblical plaques within the canyon; and an ongoing legal battle to display an eight-foot cross at the Mojave National Preserve in California. "We don't believe these are low-level decisions," Ruch added.

The controversy over the Lincoln Memorial tape began in February 2003, when the conservative organization CNS News ran a series of stories attacking the Lincoln Memorial video as left-leaning propaganda. In one story, CNS reported that the video implies that Lincoln "would have supported modem-day left-of-center political causes such as homosexual rights, abortion, and the modern feminist agenda."

Several calls Io the NPS by The Advocate, were not returned.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Politics
Author:Dahir, Mubarak
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 3, 2004
Words:377
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