President Obama this morning spoke to the 3500 attendees of the 61st annual National Prayer Breakfast. GetEQUAL, an LGBT civil rights organization, issued a stern statement condemning the President’s attendance, calling it tantamount to supporting the killing of LGBT people around the world.
The National Prayer Breakfast, which hosts attendees from all 50 states and from 160 countries around the world, is sponsored by the Fellowship Foundation, a radically conservative religious right Christian evangelical organization known to many as “The Family.”
Members of The Family have ties to anti-gay hate in Uganda, and are tied to Uganda’s infamous “Kill The Gays” bill.
“For another year, President Obama has chosen to set aside his stated values of inclusion in order to attend the National Prayer Breakfast — an event rooted in hatred of LGBT people and covered up by pastries and coffee,” Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL and a seminary graduate, said via a statement.
“There are so many communities of faith that fully embrace LGBT people and that are rooted in social justice — we really don’t understand why President Obama continues to give his permission for ‘The Family’ to support killing LGBT folks abroad,” Cronk added. “If the president is looking for ways to publicly demonstrate that he’s a man of faith, he needs to find ways to do so without simultaneously putting the lives of LGBT people in jeopardy. The ‘Kill the Gays’ bill has been moving through the Ugandan Parliament at the very same time that President Obama was speaking to the group supporting it — this practice has got to stop, and the president needs to understand the role he is playing in supporting the execution of LGBT people around the world.”
The GetEQUAL statement adds:
At a previous National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama said “We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is 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.”
Despite this assertion of the rights of LGBT Ugandans to live in peace, President Obama continues to attend and, therefore, support this event. Given the fact that President Obama has recently come out in favor of LGBT equality — including references in his inaugural speech and in an interview just days ago on Super Bowl Sunday — we are deeply saddened that the president continues to support this event.
“We’d like to see the President stop coming to events that are sponsored by people who are trying to kill and imprison us,” said Cathy Kristofferson, co-lead organizer with GetEQUAL Massachusetts and active supporter of LGBT Ugandans. “We’re disappointed that the president is sending mixed messages to our youth and to our friends abroad, by giving supportive speeches one day and then supporting those who was to murder us four days later.”
In December, GetEQUAL called upon American politicians who are known to be part of “The Family” — including U.S. Senators Jim Demint (R-SC), James Inofe (R-OK), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) — to publicly denounce the bill and to urge Ugandan Members of Parliament to kill the bill, rather than killing LGBT Ugandans. This call to action is especially important now that the “Kill The Gays” bill has again returned to the Ugandan Parliament’s agenda this week
Note: For the past two years, GetEQUAL has staged protests outside the National Prayer Breakfast — calling on elected officials to refuse to attend the event and, therefore, to refuse to support the murder of LGBT people across the globe. This year, GetEQUAL did not protest. The lead organizer of our annual “Breakfast Without Bigotry” outside the National Prayer Breakfast — Michael Dixon — died last week. He died unequal under the law. He died knowing that he was created equally, but that American elected officials have chosen not to see him equally. We are saddened by Michael’s death and we are mourning him even as we are celebrating a life well-lived. We call on American elected officials to reflect on the role that their presence has in cementing LGBT inequality and ask President Obama to reconsider his participation in this event next year — even as we mourn Michael’s death before he was able to experience equality under the law.