Sens. Feingold, Coburn, Grassley Denounce Uganda’s “Kill Gays” Bill

Jim Burroway

December 14th, 2009

The past week has seen a number of Senators and Congressional Representative issue statements on the Anti-Homosexuality Act that is before Parliament in Uganda. First, let’s go to Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), to show us how such a statement ought to be done:

Sen. Russ FeingoldI share the outrage of many political, religious and civic leaders in Uganda and around the world about the “anti-homosexuality bill” before the Ugandan Parliament.  If enacted, this inhumane bill would sanction new levels of violence against people in Uganda based solely on their gender or sexual orientation.  Its passage would hurt the close working relationship between our two countries, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Over the last month, I have conveyed these concerns to the State Department and directly to President Museveni, and I urge Uganda\’s leaders to reject this bill.

So notice what he did: 1) He put his statement on his Senate web site for everyone to see, 2), he relayed his concerns to the State Department, 3) he contacted Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni directly about his concerns, and 4) his statement is free from any political baggage. It’s simply a straightforward statement of right and wrong. And as far as I can tell, he did it without having to succumb to major media pressure, which makes his statement all the more believable.

Now contrast that with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who has been identified as being a member of the secretive Evangelical group known as “The Family.” He released his statement through an email sent out by aGOProud, the LGBT Republican group that formed after former members of the Log Cabin Republicans thought it became too liberal. Coburn’s statement wasn’t put on his Senate web page, he didn’t contact the state department or Ugandan officials, and he  cloaked his statement in some very odd political wrappings:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)“Over the past two decades, political, religious, and community leaders in Uganda have united to promote a rare, winning strategy against HIV that addresses the unique and common risks of every segment of society. Sadly, some who oppose Uganda\’s common sense ABC strategy are using an absurd proposal to execute gays to undermine this coalition and winning strategy. Officials in Uganda should come to their senses and take whatever steps are necessary to withdraw this proposal that will do nothing but harm a winning strategy that is saving lives.”

Strange, isn’t it? Who does he suggest is “opposing Uganda’s common sense ABC strategy”? Might it be Tom Coburn himself — the man who wants to undermine ABC so that only AB remains by dropping condoms from the Abstinence/Be Faithful/Use Condoms trilogy? It seems that Cobern’s concern is not toward people who would be directly affected by Uganda’s attempt to legislate LGBT people out of existence, but the embarrassment it brings to those who want to meddle in Uganda’s AIDS strategy by imposing abstinence only education.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who has also been identified as being a member of The Family, had initially refused to comment when asked on , using the excuse that he isn’t in the Ugandan parliament and was unfamiliar with the law. But on Friday (Dec 11), he decided to tell us he’s against it.

11_grassley_600Based on what I\’ve been able to learn about the legislation and from the stand point that I\’m a born again Christian, I can tell you that I don\’t agree with this un-Christian and unjust  proposal, and I hope the Ugandan officials dismiss it,” he said.

After hemming and hawing, Grassley ended up doing considerably better than Coburn. At least he didn’t try to entangle his statement with strange partisan attacks. Plus, he issued his statement through the Iowa Independent, and not some special interest group’s email to members where it might not get noticed so easily. Now if only he could get it to Museveni’s eyes and ears…

Click here to see BTB\’s complete coverage of the past year’s anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Timothy Kincaid

December 14th, 2009


I have only one quibble with your commentary. In discussing GOPride, you described Coburn’s statement as going to “some special interest group’s email to members”.

That may not be accurate. I’m not sure that GOPride actually has members other then the three gadflies that pretend to be an organization.

Incidentally, I think I’ve been mispronouncing the name of this group. It isn’t pronounced “go pride”. I think it really is “GOP ride” as in they’ll ride along with anything the GOP’s most extreme element comes up with.

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