Several months after state representative Arlon Lindner ignited a political firestorm by questioning the Nazi persecution of gays during the Holocaust, a traveling exhibit devoted to that topic will make a stop in Minnesota. And Lindner said Monday that he intends to tour it. In announcing the visit of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's "Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945" display, a local organizer attributed the stop directly to the Lindner controversy. "When an educational moment offers itself, you jump on it," said Linnea Stenson, director of the University of Minnesota's Stephen J. Schochet Center for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies.
In March, Lindner (R-Corcoran) was accused of ethics violations by Democratic legislators for saying that reports of Nazi persecution of gays and lesbians was part of a "rewriting of history." Lindner's critics grew more outraged when he said he didn't want "to sit around here and wait until America becomes another African continent," a reference he said applied to the spread of HIV and AIDS. All of the comments stemmed from discussion of his bill to repeal state human rights protections for people based on their sexual orientation. Part of that bill, which went nowhere, would have removed any references to gays and lesbians in state statutes that referred to the Holocaust. Lindner wasn't punished because the house ethics committee deadlocked. He maintained Monday that he was misunderstood. He said his point then--and now--is that gays and lesbians weren't persecuted to the same extent Jewish people were.