Wednesday, April 28, 2010

with the Bishops and Elders

I spent much of the past two days with the Bishops and Elders Council of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Monday we met with Josh DuBois at the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
The first thing that should be said is that Josh DuBois is one whip-smart young man. The amount of information that he holds in his head is more than most of us hold in our electronic data bases. Oh, to be young!
The second thing to be said is what a difference an election makes. The Bush Administration steadfastly refused to engage national GLBT leaders on the pressing concerns of the community: employment and housing discrimination, GLBT poverty, the issues that uniquely confront aging gays and lesbians in health care, housing and family law matters. Monday afternoon it was clear that the Obama Administration is informed and engaged on the issues that actually comprise anything that might be called "the homosexual agenda." That agenda has nothing to do with "spreading a lifestyle" and everything to do with protecting lives and rights. The present Administration, while far from perfect on these issues, simply sees them far more clearly because they do not come at them with blinders provided by leaders from the Religious Right.
Those leaders include folks like Lou Engle, founder of The Call. Engle is reportedly headed to Uganda to support its off shoot program, TheCall Uganda, whose stated mission includes praying for help with "the challenges in our country such as ... witchcraft and human sacrifice, homosexuality and increased immorality."
While there is a certain attraction to having the Lou Engles of the world out of the U.S., we really ought to export the best of what we are not the worst. Uganda has plenty of problems with the U.S. exporting hate.
Engle's visit is timed to support Uganda's much-discussed anti-homosexuality bill, a law that would make same-gender relationships a capital crime and, if I were Ugandan, even criminalize this blog for failure to report known homosexuals and leave me liable for up to seven years in prison for my associations.
Meanwhile a bit further south, two young men in Malawi, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, remain in prison, facing sentences of up to 14 years, for the crime of professing their love for on another.
Yesterday, on the steps of National City Christian Church, a young African gay man named Moses gave thanks to God that "something good is happening" as he prayed for the safety and liberation of his family, friends and gay and lesbians brothers and sisters in Africa.
As Dr. King put it, we are all bound together in an inescapable web of mutuality. Whatever effects one directly effects us all indirectly. The freedom to love one another must not be bound by any government, and just as we must be concerned for the rights of marginalized people here we must stand in solidarity with the marginalized and oppressed everywhere.