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August 17, 2013

Letter: President, Hillary come up short pressing for gay rights

To the editor:

I know I will anger my fellow liberals by saying this, but I find President Obama’s condemnation of Russia’s newly passed law that makes criminals of gay people, or those who embrace and support them, a little suspect.

I say that because the president’s own history on gay rights, along with Bill and Hillary Clinton’s is, to say the least, a little confusing and contradictory.

In the first couple of years of their tenures in the Executive Branch, both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton dragged their feet in condemning the African government of Uganda and its American fundamentalist Christian advisers — including the Rev. Rick Warren who offered the benediction at Obama’s first inaugural — for their joint efforts to pass anti-gay legislation that called for the death penalty in some cases for Ugandans found to be involved in same-sex relationships.

In 2009 or 2010, when it came to light that one of the Ugandan pastors who was a driving force behind that legislation had been invited by American evangelicals to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, several gay rights organizations pleaded with both President Obama and Secretary Clinton to boycott the breakfast. Neither one did.

Hillary Clinton, in fact, praised the breakfast as an important “American tradition.” The fact that the breakfast is a political “must show” for pols of both parties obviously contributed more to its importance as an American tradition in Hillary’s eyes than the fact that a man who advocated the death penalty for Ugandan gays had been invited to attend.

I raise this issue because I believe, if President Obama and Mrs. Clinton, who covets the presidency the way her husband coveted Monica Lewinsky, really believe in the human and civil rights of the world’s homosexual people, they should both loudly and angrily condemn Vladimir Putin’s actions and make clear the United States will not participate in an Olympics held in a country that criminalizes and imprisons people because of their sexual orientation.

But, given their failure to boycott the National Prayer Breakfast knowing that it included a man who viewed being gay as a capital offense, I am not holding my breath.

And that sad reality should be a wake up call to all gay people, our friends, and our families as to just how fragile and tenuous all the progress we seem to have made in recent years really is.

MICHAEL COOK

Gloucester

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