Obama is Fired Up: Bashes Uganda’s Gay Hate, Birthers, ‘Erosion of Civility’
February 4, 2010
(ChattahBox)— President Obama spoke before the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, with a fiery speech attacking his critics for suggesting he is not a member of the Christian faith and condemning birthers who question his citizenship. Obama also lamented the lack of a “serious and civil debate” in Washington. And he blasted Uganda’s proposed anti-gay laws, calling the laws “odious,” which were encouraged by members of “The Family,” the secretive evangelical group sponsoring the prayer breakfast. President called on Washington politicians to be guided by their faith and prayers, when engaging in policy debates, rather than character assignation.
The Prayer Breakfast held at the Hilton Washington was attended by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who also condemned Uganda’s anti-gay laws. First lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and the Prime Minister of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, also attended.
Obama spoke of the commendable call to action answered by many Americans of faith during times of crisis, such as the Haiti earthquake, Katrina and 9/11. But noted that those same people seem to overlook the everyday problems affecting people in our country:
“We become numb to the day-to-day crises, the slow-moving tragedies of children without food and men without shelter and families without health care. We become absorbed with our abstract arguments, our ideological disputes, our contests for power. And in this Tower of Babel, we lose the sound of God’s voice.”
Obama then remarked on the lack of civility in political discourse, saying that Washington was broken:
“But there is a sense that something is different now; that something is broken; that those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should. At times, it seems like we’re unable to listen to one another; to have at once a serious and civil debate. And this erosion of civility in the public square sows division and distrust among our citizens. It poisons the well of public opinion. It leaves each side little room to negotiate with the other. It makes politics an all-or-nothing sport, where one side is either always right or always wrong when, in reality, neither side has a monopoly on truth. And then we lose sight of the children without food and the men without shelter and the families without health care.”
Obama then took a shot across the bow at his right-wing critics who have attacked President Obama as a Muslim, who is not a natural born citizen:
“Civility also requires relearning how to disagree without being disagreeable; understanding, as President [Kennedy] said, that “civility is not a sign of weakness.” Now, I am the first to confess I am not always right. Michelle will testify to that. But surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith, or, for that matter, my citizenship.”
Obama then addressed the controversy surrounding Uganda’s extreme anti-homosexual laws. The laws would punish lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered Ugandans with namely life imprisonment, or in some cases, the death penalty. The proposed laws would also impose a prison sentence of up to three years for anyone failing to report within 24 hours, the identities of any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered person. Ugandan politician David Bahati, who sponsored the draconian anti-homosexual laws, is reportedly a member of The Family.
Obama soundly condemned Uganda’s proposed anti-gay laws:
“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, as Hillary mentioned, more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.”
Watchdog groups and gay rights activists protested this year’s National Prayer Breakfast, after the secretive organization The Fellowship, or The Family’s role in the development of Uganda’s anti-homosexual laws came to light. The Family also suns the notorious C Street house, which is home to many conservative lawmakers in Washington, some of whom have become embroiled in scandalous extramarital affairs, including Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), South Carlina Gov. Mark Sanford and former Republican congressman Chip Pickering.
The official text of President Obama’s Prayer Breakfast speech can be found here.