Obama, Clinton Blast 'Odious' Ugandan Death Penalty for Gays
This morning, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both sharply criticized a proposed law in Uganda that would make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. Conservative religious leaders have been reluctant to speak out against this looming human rights atrocity, because the Ugandan proposal is backed by a member of a shadowy, international right-wing religious group known as "The Family" (it's official legal name is The Fellowship Foundation), as AlterNet previously reported. Obama's comments today were particularly cutting given their arena-- Obama was speaking at The Family's top political event of the year-- The National Prayer Breakfast, a major marketing platform for the group frequented by dozens of politicians paying tribute to the organization and it's global influence. Clinton spoke before Obama at the event, offering a speech focused primarily on her own personal faith. But toward the end, Clinton added this section on the use of religion to undermine human rights:
In the Obama administration, we are working to bridge religious divides. 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. And 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 President [Yoweri Kaguta] Museveni, whom I have known through the Prayer Breakfast, and expressed the strongest concerns about a law being considered in the parliament of Uganda.Obama addressed the topic a few minutes later, in a speech about restoring civility to political and religious debates:
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, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.Prominent members of The Family include Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), and journalist Jeff Sharlett's recent book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power brought the group's political influence and radical conservative agenda to greater public infamy. The good-government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington recently urged Obama and Congressional leaders to skip the Prayer Breakfast, citing The Family's refusal to publicize its sources of funding, its under-the-radar role in foreign policy, and its legally questionable tax maneuvering. Other speakers at the Prayer Breakfast included members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, among them Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).