The top two people in the United States government slammed the Ugandan “Anti Homosexuality Bill 2009” at The Family’s National Prayer Breakfast on February 4 – and President Barack Obama described the Bill as “odious”. And an American gay group described the President’s remarks as “bold” and “a huge victory for human rights”. “We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it’s unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are, whether it’s here in the United States, or more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda,” the President said. Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had condemned the Ugandan Bill, in which the secretive The Family is said to have had an involvement. “In the Obama administration, we are working to bridge religious divides,” Secretary Clinton told the Prayer Breakfast. “We are standing up for gays and lesbians, who deserve to be treated as full human beings. And we are also making it clear to countries and leaders that these are priorities of the United States . . . I recently called [Ugandan] President Museveni, whom I have known through the Prayer Breakfast, and expressed the strongest concerns about a law being considered in the parliament of Uganda.” “We’re taking on violations of human rights perpetrated in the name of religion and we invite members of Congress and clergy and active citizens like all of you here to join us. We are also standing up for girls and women, who too often in the name of religion are denied their basic human rights.” Within minutes of the speeches ending, Truth Wins Out (TWO) praised President Obama, describing his references to Uganda as “bold”. “We applaud President Obama for having the courage to confront those responsible for the heinous anti-gay bill in Uganda,” said Wayne Besen, executive director of TWO. “We hope that the President’s laudable stand makes it clear to Family members in the United States and Uganda that the world is watching. Religion can no longer be used to justify bigotry, intolerance and persecution anywhere on the face of the earth.” The President’s words, TWO said, “were particularly powerful given the setting of this breakfast, which is hosted by the fundamentalist group known as The Family. This secretive organization is directly linked to the “Kill the Gays” Bill in Uganda. The bill’s sponsor, David Bahati, is a key member of The Family. “The safe course would have been for President Obama to remain silent,” Mr. Besen said. “Instead, he walked into The Family’s house and held them accountable for their actions in Uganda. “It was a huge victory for human rights and the President’s actions were courageous and honorable.”
For a response from Whosoever Editor Candace Chellew to President Obama’s comments at the Prayer Breakfast, visit her blog at Religion Dispatches.
The founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, Rev. Candace Chellew earned her Masters of Theological studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Her first book, “Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians”, was published by Jossey-Bass in 2008. She currently serves as the Spiritual Director of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C.