Written by Dan Barash
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Friday, 18 November 2005

image for Is New Buffalo Nickel Gay?
Critics charge that the new buffalo nickel may contain a hidden message.

The United States Mint is facing a political firestorm over whether the new buffalo nickel is gay. The new nickel, which resurrects the buffalo image after an 87-year absence, has been targeted by several conservative and religious groups. Dr. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, charges the nickel with promoting a "pro-homosexual lifestyle." According to the Focus on the Family web site, the new 5-cent piece has a "disturbing gay subtext". The Mint is producing over 100 million of the new nickels, hoping to replace some of the 300 million lost in couches and car seats.

United States Mint Director Henrietta Fore countered the charges in a news conference on Monday. "Like all US currency, the new buffalo nickel does not take a stand on sexuality," she said. "American coinage is as diverse as the American family. We even have the penny, which corresponds to your good-for-nothing Uncle Bernie." Anti-nickel activists staged a protest outside the news conference. "That new nickel is queer as a three-dollar bill," said one. The Mint is countering the potential adverse press by sponsoring several World Wrestling Entertainment events.

Much of the controversy is centered on the buffalo image. The buffalo on the nickel is said to be based on an actual American bison from a herd in the Happy Hunter Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. The bison, known as Abner, is suspected of having homosexual tendencies.

"Look, I sure don't want to get a 2,000 pound wild animal mad at me by outing him," said wildlife biologist Steve Davis, who knows Abner well. "But let's just say he doesn't quite seem to fit in with the rest of the herd." Davis refused to comment on reports that Abner had a flair for decorating, a trait quite uncommon in the male American bison.

US Mint authorities are concerned the nickel controversy will bring unwelcome scrutiny to other coins and bills. "It's an open secret there's plenty of gay currency around here," said one anonymous source at the Mint. "But we always figured that what happens in the privacy of your wallet is nobody else's business

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