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ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU * ACLU NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE * NEWS RELEASE ACLU Reaches Settlement with National Endowment for the Arts; Funding for Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals is Restored For IMMEDIATE RELEASE Wednesday, August 25, 1993 The National Endowment for the Arts has reversed a 1992 decision denying funding to three gay and lesbian film festivals after resolving a lawsuit threatened by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU had charged that the NEA's actions were based on improper political considerations that constituted viewpoint censorship. Under the terms of the settlement signed today, Ana Steele, Acting Senior Deputy Chairperson of the NEA, agreed to give the three film festivals the $17,500 they would have received in 1992. Release of the funds will settle all claims against the NEA by the gay and lesbian film festivals. "We believe that the NEA's actions in this case were unconstitutionally based on the gay content of the film festivals," said William B. Rubenstein, Director of the ACLU's National Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "We are therefore pleased that the NEA has recognized its past errors. We will remain vigilant to instances of discrimination by government against lesbians and gay men." Of the 53 media arts organizations recommended for funding in 1992 by the National Alliance of Media Arts Centers (NAMAC), an NEA subgrantor, only the three that focussed on lesbian and gay themes were denied grants by the NEA. The three not-for-profit gay and lesbian film festivals were: New Festival, Inc., an annual New York film festival; Lesbian and Gay Film Festival of Pittsburgh, Inc.; and Gay & Lesbian Media Coalition, Inc., a Los Angeles-based film festival. In late 1991 and early 1992, the three film festivals applied to NAMAC for NEA subgrants along with 165 other media organizations. After considering the artistic merit of each application, NAMAC included the three film festivals among its recommendations to the NEA. The NEA then singled out the three film festivals, rejecting their grants. Anne-Imelda Radice, former Acting Chairperson of the NEA, issued a news release stating that the three film festivals had been denied funding because they lacked sufficient artistic merit, though a peer review panel had previously found that the festivals possessed such merit. The ACLU took up the case, filing an appeal of the funding veto in late 1992. The appeal was granted by the NEA and the funds will be released to the film festivals. "It was specious for the NEA to suggest that artistic merit was in question when the issue was clearly the NEA's own fear of political backlash due to the gay and lesbian themes of the artistic expression," said Julian Low, Director of NAMAC. "The government may not use its grant-making power to discriminate against speech based on the viewpoint expressed in that speech," added Marjorie Heins, Director of the ACLU's national Arts Censorship Project. "The NEA may not sacrifice the First Amendment in pursuit of a political agenda." The settlement was negotiated by the ACLU's national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project and Arts Censorship Project, along with Gary E. Crawford, Robert C. La Mont and Richard T. Bernardo of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom of New York City. --endit-- ============================================================= ACLU Free Reading Room | A publications and information resource of the gopher:// | American Civil Liberties Union National Office | | "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty"


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