Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chappaqua artist of gay themes draws ire for donation to gay marriage ban | | The Journal News

it's amazing how people can justify their hypocrisy !!!

Chappaqua artist of gay themes draws ire for donation to gay marriage ban | | The Journal News

Elizabeth Ganga
The Journal News

CHAPPAQUA - Often art and politics don't mix.

But usually the artists are on one side - smearing dung on the Virgin Mary, perhaps - and the politically active on the other - like Mayor Rudolph Giuliani decrying the depiction as an attack on Catholicism.

It's rare that one person embodies both, as appears to be the case in Chappaqua with local artist Maureen Mullarkey.

Mullarkey is a painter who has done a series of works, well known in the gay community, depicting drag queens and inspired by gay pride parades. But she also donated $1,000 to the campaign for Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.

That has raised calls of hypocrisy among gay rights groups and on blogs following the intense Proposition 8 debate.

"There's something very duplicitous in making money through depiction of the LGBT community through her art," and then donating the money to an anti-gay-marriage campaign, said David Juhren, the director of communication at The LOFT, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center in White Plains, which sends delegations to the New York City pride parade.

"She's relatively well-known, and that's why it's kind of a slap in the face," Juhren said.

Mullarkey, whose seemingly incongruous role in the controversy was first reported in The Daily News this week, responded yesterday to the criticism by condemning what she called the intimidation of artists who supported Proposition 8.

Mullarkey, 66, said she favored the measure, which passed in November overturning an earlier court ruling legalizing gay marriage in California, because she believes "marriage is the union of husband and wife - a premise so simple, so fundamental that nature and civilization itself both testify to the truth of it."

She likened the attacks to Nazi "brownshirt tactics" and expressed concern for people in the arts who had suffered reprisals for opposing gay marriage.

"Artists are not in the habit of imposing ideological conformity on one another or demanding it from others," Mullarkey said. "Moreover, regard for individual gay persons does not require assent to a politicized assault on bedrock social reality and the common good."

Maggie Gallagher of Ossining, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, whose California arm Mullarkey donated to, said Mullarkey's critics refuse to acknowledge that people can be sympathetic to gay people but also believe in the traditional definition of marriage.

"The reason that seems so incongruous to some people is because they think the marriage issue is about whether you like or hate gay people," Gallagher said.

The article about Mullarkey is part of an organized attempt to harass people who oppose gay marriage, she argued. Some people have been threatened or lost their jobs after their employers were targeted, Gallagher said.

The National Organization for Marriage and tried to get the courts in California to keep private the names of some donors to the Proposition 8 campaign, charging that those whose names were already disclosed were being harassed. Last week, a U.S. District judge refused the request for an injunction.

"People who gave as little as 100 bucks or less to Prop 8 have been subjected to organized Internet campaigns," Gallagher said. She called on gay rights groups to stop encouraging their supporters to contact Proposition 8 donors.

"It's an astonishing outflow of what feels like, from our point of view, licensed hatred," she said.

But groups like Californians Against Hate say they publicize the identities of major donors to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign to fight back against people who want to take away their rights.

On Web sites that published The Daily News article, some people have posted Mullarkey's e-mail address and encouraged others to boycott her work. Some also said they now see homophobic overtones in Mullarkey's work.

Mullarkey has exhibited at museums and galleries around the country, including the National Academy of Design, the Brooklyn Museum and at Rittenhouse Fine Art in Philadelphia, according to her Web site. She also has been a prolific art writer.

In an interview with The Journal News in 2002, she described herself as a traditional Catholic who loves the Latin Mass. Campaign finance reports show she has donated to Christians and Jews for Life, and Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth - the group that attacked Sen. John Kerry's Vietnam service during his 2004 presidential campaign - along with various Republican politicians. Locally, she was vocal in the campaign against putting the New Castle Sept. 11 memorial at the Duck Pond park, near where she lives in Chappaqa.

The California Supreme Court will hear arguments March 5 over the constitutionality of Proposition 8.
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