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2009/12/10

How Do You Solve A Problem Like... Uganda?

Remember Uganda? Idi Amin? Always a hotspot of corruption and human rights violations? Well, they’re at it again. This time they are looking to pass legislation that would result in the jailing and execution of gay people. Something tells me tourism is not a big industry in that country.

The proposed bill would ask for the execution of HIV positive gay people. It asks for life in prison for all gay people. If you know of someone who is gay and failed to report them – you get seven to three years in prison.


Note: On 12/10/09: A. Larry Ross, the Ugandan Ethics Minister announced that life in prison and the death penalty are now no longer part of the bill. Still part of the bill? Seven years if caught attempting to commit a homosexual act and three years if you know of a homosexual and do not report them.

Wait. It gets better.

Pastor Rick Warren – you know, the guy who swore in President Obama? Rick Warren – author of A Purpose Driven Life? The guy who also believes there is a secret coven of witches living under Lake Victoria? Turns out he was good friends (until October 2009) with the man who sponsors this bill (Pastor Martin Ssempa). Ssempa has been a special guest speaker at Warren’s mega church numerous times. Warren claims to have cut all ties, but will not go so far as to actually condemn the legislation. That’s because Pastor Rick believes that homosexuals are going to take over the world and, well, he hates gays. How’s that for Christian love? He’s pretty up front about it, too, you know in that slimy doublespeak that passes for an answer to a direct question kind of way. Warren’s life does indeed seem to be purpose driven. But I don’t think God, as I understand God, would approve.

Note: On 12/10/09: Pastor Rick Warren publicly spoke out against the Ugandan “gay death bill”, terming it “unjust, extreme and un- Christian.” He has gone public in the hopes of serving as a shepherd to other pastors who look to him for guidance. He now says that he never supported the bill or anyone associated with it.

Wait. Even better.

PEPFAR (U.S. President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief) monies actually went to Ugandan organizations with ties to Ssempa and the other sponsors of this bill. Those monies are helping drive this bill into law. This is Uganda’s answer to the AIDS crisis; kill and jail all gay people. They also received monies from the United Nation’s Global Fund in the fight against AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. Trust me, they aren’t buying condoms. That money is tied up in this bill, as well. No one seems to know why or how those organizations got those monies – or at least no will admit to knowing how. But it happened.

I’m saddened to say that President Obama has not spoken out against the bill. I’m saddened to say that Hillary Clinton has only paid fleeting lip service to the issue, echoing the U.N.’s statement regarding the danger of excluding marginalized groups. Kind of a ting of a single triangle in the back of the orchestra when what you really need and expect is a full brass band assault.

I’m disappointed that the media isn’t making more of it. Maybe they’re waiting to see if the bill passes? Then perhaps it will be newsworthy. But by then… well, in my eyes, by then it will be too late. Which reminds me of another historic moment when nobody said anything or did anything until it was much too late.

Nazi Germany.

We waited too long there. Why? Did they think it was going to get better? Did they think it was going to go away?

Well, we now know, from history, that things like this tend only to get worse. People who live and breath hate? Reason generally does not reverberate in their world. Logic is a foreign language to them. Hate breeds only more hate.

So I’m troubled. And saddened. And disappointed.

Obama tells gays that currently there are more pressing issues that affect all Americans and those take the front seat of the bus. Economic recovery takes precedence over gay rights. I understand that. He can only fight so many dragons at once. Even mentioning a controversial issue like gay marriage could prove detrimental to those irons currently in the fire; issues that deal with matters that impact the lives of not only gay people, but pretty much anyone who does not make over 100K a year.

Still… I’m disappointed in Obama’s performance so far. I’m not feeling the revolution promised. I’m not seeing even a whisper of change. I see same old – same old. I’m seeing business as usual. See… when you purposely don’t talk about something on a regular basis and refer to and deal with a given issue as a problem issue? That’s when it becomes a real problem. And it remains that way – taking root in the minds of people until one day those people only view anything that touches upon that issue as part of a bigger problem - an unsolvable problem. Like abortion. And gay rights. The only way to reverse that? Talk about it. On a regular basis. As if it is part of the fabric of our lives. Problem issues should not be treated like malformed, genetically deficient children that we stick in the attic and never talk about. Shame breeds shame. It also leads to the demonization of segments of our society.

We know Obama will never talk about gay marriage, because he does not believe in gay marriage. Obama has always been for civil unions only. I understand his position – it’s a well thought out, very safe one. It’s his way of winning over the gays without giving the religious right too much more to be upset about.

And now is not the time for him to talk about divisive issues, blah, blah, blah. I get that.

But not speaking out against what’s going on in Uganda? That? I don’t get.

If Obama had an opportunity to have spoken out against Nazi Germany before the concentration camps started gassing people and death became an everyday occurrence, I believe he would have done it.

Hello? Obama? It’s Uganda calling. Will you take the call?

Well… I’m waiting.

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