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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for October, 2011

The Daily Agenda for Friday, October 28

Jim Burroway

October 28th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM): Perth, Australia. Leaders of the 53 Commonwealth nations will begin their biennial meeting today, as human rights advocates call on Commonwealth members to scrap their colonial-era anti-gay laws. Forty-one Commonwealth nations, including Uganda, Zimbabwe and Ghana, currently have laws which provide criminal penalties for homosexuality. Those laws, advocates warn, hamper AIDS prevention efforts and deprive millions of citizens around the world of economic, political and social equality. Former Botswana President Festus Mogae has joined the call for worldwide decriminalization, and Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai broke with President Robert Mugabe in what the BBC described as a “U-turn” and declared that gay rights, “to me, it’s a human right.” Tzvamgirai has been weathering blistering condemnations from Mugabe’s allies since then. Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma also backs the proposals. Meanwhile, Uganda has begun efforts to revive its proposal to kill gay people.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Washington, D.C.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Shanghai, China.

Also This Weekend: Diversity Weekend, Eureka Springs, AR; Hellfest 2011 Rugby Tournament, Dallas, TX; Out In Africa Film Festival, Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa; and Glasgay!, Glasgow, UK.

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Exodus International North Central Regional Conference: Green Lake, WI. Unlike prior conferences, Exodus hasn’t published a list of speakers for this three-day conference that begins today at the Green Lake Conference Center. They do however highlight Christopher Yuan as a guest speaker. Yuan tells the tale of being a gay man with a drug problem who was arrested for possessing”9.1 tons” and served a six year prison. A sad life, but what do any of those destructive decisions have to do with being gay? Well, I’m sure he has an explanation and will tell anyone who forks over from $110 (Saturday only, no meals) to $210 (Standard three-day registration, single adult, including meals and lodging). It begins today at 7:00 p.m. and continues through Sunday morning.

Georgia Awake!: Augusta, GA. The Liberty Counsel is continuing its series of “Awake!” conferences with a meeting this evening at Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA, because, of course, “There’s a war waging:”

Christianity is under attack in our schools, workplaces, and governments. Silence is a decision to stand with the enemy. Inaction is a deathblow to the God-honoring principles our country was created to allow each citizen to enjoy.

Speaking at tonight’s conference will be Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver (who teaches his law students to ignore the law in favor of “God’s Law”), and fake “historian” David Barton. It all begins this evening at 7:00 p.m.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Exodus Sends Letter To Ugandan President

Jim Burroway

November 16th, 2009

Exodus has announced that they have sent a letter to Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni concerning the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act that is now before Parliament. The letter, which is signed by Exodus President Alan Chambers, vice president Randy Thomas, “former homosexual” and AIDS survivor Christopher Yuan, and Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton, the letter begins by making a distinction between child sexual abuse and consensual relationships between consenting adults. It then continues:

While we do not believe that homosexual behavior is what God intended for individuals, we believe that deprivation of life and liberty is not an appropriate or helpful response to this issue. Furthermore, the Christian church must be a safe, compassionate place for gay-identified people as well as those who are confused about and conflicted by their sexuality. If homosexual behavior and knowledge of such behavior is criminalized and prosecuted, as proposed in this bill, church and ministry leaders will be unable to assist hurting men, women and youth who might otherwise seek help in addressing this personal issue. The Christian church cannot and should not condone homosexual living or gay-identified clergy within its leadership, but it must be permitted to extend the love and compassion of Christ to all. We believe that this legislation would make this mission a difficult if not impossible task to carry out.

Written as it is by an organization which is does not affirm the dignity and worth of LGBT people to live their lives responsibly in freedom and self-determination, there is certainly much in this letter that merits criticism. Furthermore, the letter makes no recommendations except to “consider the influence this law will have” on the work of those who believe that the only valid option for LGBT people is to self-deny their own existence. The “influence” this law will have on LGBT people themselves, well that’s apparently inconsequential and not worthy of discussion.

Content-wise, there is almost nothing I can agree with. But then, this letter wasn’t written by an LGBT advocacy group, nor was it written on behalf or in defense of LGBT people. It was written by an organization who wants to make gay people straight – an already improbable task from a practical standpoint, soon to be made impossible by the legal impediments this law would impose. From that viewpoint, this letter makes their case well.

Besides, the contents of this letter shouldn’t allow us to refrain from both acknowledging its importance and welcoming its tardy arrival. For more than eight months after Exodus board member Don Schmierer participated in a conference in Kampala which fanned the flames of hatred that brings us to where we are today, Exodus remained officially silent. This letter breaks that long and exasperating silence. The damage done by eight months of silence won’t be fixed by a single letter, but it’s a start in the right direction. And as first steps go, this is a very good first step.

But to really be meaningful, this letter needs to be followed up with more actions and statements. I have a suggestion: The Observer, The Independent and The Monitor, all independent Ugandan newspapers, have printed letters and op-ed columns criticizing the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Act. I’m sure they’d be interested in the opinions of an American evangelical leader who presents himself as an expert in homosexuality and wants to approach the subject “with grace and truth.”

Will Exodus follow up with more action? Given the stonewalling we’ve seen to date, I’m not willing to place any bets. It seems to me as though they are looking for ways to do as little as possible, but just enough to inoculate themselves from criticism. This letter, by itself, is not an inoculation. Many more boosters will be needed. Eight months of silence is too long a trend to reverse in one shot. Besides, it’s not about criticism from us and other LGBT advocates that should be the issue. It’s the lives at stake in Uganda, lives made much more precarious following a certain conference last March.

The complete letter is reproduced below.

Click here to see BTB’s complete coverage of recent anti-gay developments in Uganda.

Click here to read Exodus International’s letter to President Museveni.