The Daily Agenda for Sunday, February 24
February 24th, 2013
TODAY IN HISTORY:
President George Bush Backs Federal Marriage Amendment: 2004. With Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that nothing short of marriage would provide full equality for same-sex couples as required in the state’s constitution (see May 17), and with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s order that the county clerk begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples (see Feb 12), pressure had been building on President Goerge W. Bush, then running for a second term as President, to do something! And so, in lockstep with his conservative Christian base — and in keeping with his campaign strategist Karl Rove’s encouraging several important states (including, critically, Ohio) to place marriage bans on their ballots as part of a get-out-the-vote effort — Bush declared his support for a the Federal Marriage Amendment, which, if enacted, would have permanently and nationally banished all same-sex marriages “or the legal incidents thereof.”
And in the typical black-is-white rhetoric that had become a hallmark of his administration, he blamed his decision on gay people. “After more than two centuries of American jurisprudence, and millennia of human experience, a few judges and local authorities are presuming to change the most fundamental institution of civilization,” he said. “Their actions have created confusion on an issue that requires clarity.”
Declaring that “the voice of the people must be heard,” he urged Congress to “promptly pass… an amendment to our Constitution defining and protecting marriage as a union of a man and woman as husband and wife,” during televised remarks from the White House’s Roosevelt Room. After urging that the nation consign gay Americans to permanent second-class citizenship, he called on the nation to begin the debate “without bitterness or anger.”
Log Cabin Republicans, who enthusiastically supported Bush four years ago after a closed-door meeting with the then-Texas governor, felt betrayed by the statement. Patrick Guerriero, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, said. “Log Cabin considers support for this amendment a declaration of war on gay and lesbian families and an attack on our sacred Constitution.” LCR political director Chris Barron (he would later go on to co-found GOProud), would later comment, “It is impossible to overstate the depth of anger and disappointment caused by the president’s support for an anti-family constitutional amendment. This amendment would not only ban gay marriage, it would also jeopardize civil unions and domestic partnerships.” LCR would go on to withhold its endorsement of Bush for the 2004 election cycle.
Later in September, the proposed amendment would fail in the House, 227 to 186, with 290 votes needed to cross the two-thirds requirement to send a Constitutional Amendment to the States for ratification. The Senate had, by then, already failed to break a filibuster against the proposal.
American Evangelicals Announce Anti-Gay Conference In Uganda: 2009. BTB was the first Western outlet to discover and report the shocking announcement that Exodus International board member Don Schmierer and a little-known staffer at Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation, Caleb Lee Brundidge, would join Holocaust revisionist and anti-gay extremist Scott Lively for a three day conference in Kampala. Lively was already known to regular BTB readers for his involvement with the international anti-gay extremist group Watchmen On the Walls (not to be confused with an unrelated Family Research Council initiative by the same name) and for his book, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, in which he writes that “the Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history.” Knowing that Lively was bringing his brand of extremism to Uganda was very worrying. As I wrote at the time:
Lively’s brand of rhetoric is unusually vitriolic, even by some of the more ardent anti-gay standards. He regularly describes gays as being sick and“followers of the Father of Lies.” When the Watchmen On the Walls held a rally in Novosibirsk, Russia, Lively excused Satander Singh’s murder in Sacramento. Lively contends that “civilization and homosexuals” are engaged in a full-blown war, which is part of the Devil’s design to destroy civilizations.
The Kampala conference was organized by Steven Langa, director of Kampala-based Family Life Network. Lively had struck up a friendship with Langa during a tour of the African continent in 2002. Throughout the decade, Ugandan pastors adopted increasingly violent rhetoric against gay people, with one pastor, Martin Ssempa, leading hundreds of his followers in 2007 through the streets of Kampala demanding harsh punishments against gay people, and publishing the names and addresses of Ugandan gay rights advocates. Many were forced to go into hiding.
With Lively’s incendiary rhetoric being thrown into the mix, I didn’t know what would happen, but feared the worst. My worst fears, however, were nothing compared to what actually followed: a long series of anti-gay rallies, vigilante campaigns, and reports of violence which ultimately culminated in the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as the “Kill the Gays Bill,” in Uganda’s parliament in October, 2009. That bill still threatens LGBT Ugandans today. Since February 24, 2009, BTB has followed every twist and turn of the events in Uganda. Our compilation, Slouching Toward Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate, is a timeline and index of the nearly 500 posts that we have written documenting the events in Uganda since then.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?