Evangelicals frustrated by Obama's 'Gay Pride' decree
WASHINGTON (BP)--President Obama Monday named June as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month" issuing a proclamation that goes even further than those of former President Clinton in its pro-homosexuality slant.
Clinton was the last president to issue such a proclamation, first doing so in 1999 and then in 2000 before he left office. Obama's 572-word proclamation calls for ending the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy -- which was put in place under Clinton -- and also includes the phrase "transgender" for a first time. Clinton's proclamations never referenced transgenderism, a category that includes cross-dressers and people undergoing sex change operations. Another first: Obama's proclamation reiterates his support for same-sex civil union laws.
President George W. Bush never issued a proclamation commemorating Gay Pride Month. Clinton's proclamations differed from Obama's in calling June "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month," leaving out "bisexual" and "transgender."
"The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done," Obama's proclamation reads. "During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month."
The proclamation is posted on the White House website but is difficult to find and as of Tuesday afternoon was not listed under the website's category of proclamations -- a fact that some homosexual activists were criticizing. (The link is available at the end of this story.)
Evangelicals voiced strong disagreement with Obama's proclamation, much like they did in 1999 when Clinton issued his proclamation and Southern Baptist Convention messengers responded by passing a resolution rebuking Clinton for doing so.
"For a president who pledged to bring us together, Mr. Obama persists in doing the exact opposite on all things homosexual," Bob Stith, the Southern Baptist national strategist for gender issues and representative of the denomination's Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals, told Baptist Press. "This issue for most evangelical Christians is not bias or prejudice. It is simply maintaining the freedom to speak the truth about Scripture. It is one thing to be loving and tolerant. It is something else altogether to encourage pride in what God clearly says is sin.
"The bottom line," Stith added, "is that if God defines something as sin, we do no one any favors by attempting to blur those lines. Nor will we be doing future generations any favors by obliterating barriers God has put up for our protection. On several occasions the Bible uses the phrase 'every man did that which was right in his own eyes.' In every case it turned out badly."
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, criticized Obama for once again calling for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which prevents homosexuals from serving openly in the military.
"This, according to people in the military, would have catastrophic consequences for our nation in a time of war," Land told BP.
"Some surveys of military personnel indicate that perhaps as high as 10 percent of the all-volunteer forces will resign from the military if 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is rescinded," he said, quoting a December Military Times poll. "And it would hit heaviest in the non-commissioned officer ranks -- the sergeants and the chiefs and the people who make it go at the operational level. It would seriously impact our military's ability to do the job that we've asked them to do in keeping us safe."
The homosexual community traditionally has called June "Gay Pride Month" to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots, which took place in New York City and are viewed as helping launch the modern "gay rights" movement. In his proclamation Obama says he is proud to be the first president to "appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an administration." He also calls for passage of a hate crimes bill and for "ensuring adoption rights" for homosexuals.
Noting the stark contrast between the previous administration and the current administration, Land said, "Elections have consequences." Underscoring how far the "gay rights community" has come in less than two decades, Land recalled how he and other religious leaders met with former President George H.W. Bush and complained about Bush becoming the first president to invite representatives of homosexual organizations to the White House. "We've come a long way," Land said, emphasizing it has not been for the better.
"Those of us who believe in the continuing truth of God's revealed Word in Scripture," Land said, "would not consider the distance traveled between the issue in our meeting with President George H.W. Bush and President Obama's proclamation as progress, but a further sign of the moral and spiritual deterioration of our culture."
Said Stith: "God has not just issued a laundry list of arbitrary rules for His creation. He has made it clear that He desires for us to experience His joy and peace. As the creator He also understands what will make that possible -- and what will impede His plan for us. Clearly the true loving thing to do is to hold up God's standard and encourage all people to strive for that. To declare pride in anything that God says is sin is not love. It is no different than removing a sign that says 'Road closed. Bridge out.'"
Following is the full text of Obama's proclamation:
"Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.
"LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country's response to the HIV pandemic.
"Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration -- in both the White House and the Federal agencies -- openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.
"The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.
"My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.
"These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
"NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.
"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third."
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. Obama's proclamation also can be found on the White House website at www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential-Proclamation-LGBT-Pride-Month. For more information about the SBC's outreach to homosexuals, visit www.sbcthewayout.com.