Thursday, December 3, 2009

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow addresses situation in Uganda, and she’s naming names.

Maddow's coverage on Ugandagate (to my recollection) began this Monday 11-30, and has been ongoing since. I have included the video clips of these segments as well as their corresponding transcripts for the sake of full coverage and ease of quotation.

I wish to emphasize the point that we often feel that we are “preaching to the choir” in regard to pro-gay watchdog sites.

What we may not remember is that the “choir” still needs to be preached to. Too many in the LGBT community are CLUELESS as to the threats we face in the political arena.

I was talking with a friend of mine (gay) from high school awhile back, about the threats we face from mostly, the religious right, in regard to marriage equality. He replied, paraphrased: “I think all they really want is to keep the name ‘marriage’.” A ridiculous assertion to those of us who are actively engaged in the current culture war.

I also attended the recent Anti-Heterosexism Conference in West Palm Beach and spoke with several activists who organized the nearby NARTH conference protest and this past march on Washington, and they told me stories of how difficult it was to get support and involvement with not only LGBT persons, but also with pro-LGBT groups. So this kind of apathy seems to be epidemic.

My point being, in regard to this post, is that the importance of in depth MSM coverage like this should not be underestimated. The Rachel Maddow show, I suspect, has an almost exclusively liberal/progressive audience, and so it’s expose´s like this that may help to waken some of those in our community, and allies, who continue to slumber.

A point of note, you can now edit the portions of the Rachel Maddow clips you wish to embed. I don’t know if that extends to all MSNBC shows, but it was a welcome discovery in putting this post together.

And with that...

Rachel Maddow clip from Monday November 30th, 2009

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


MADDOW: The government of Uganda is considering passing a law to execute gay people. Execute as in by hanging a, quote, “serial offender” or an HIV-positive person who commits same sex act. If enacted, this law would also impose a three-year prison sentence on anyone who knows of a gay person in the country but doesn‘t report that gay person to the government within 24 hours.

Who is supporting and promoting this legislation? Well, one of the proponents is a minister named Pastor Martin Ssempa. He was a familiar face to American conservative Evangelicals, because Mr. Ssempa has been a frequent guest of Pastor Rick Warren at One Saddleback Church in California.

Do you remember Rick Warren? Him being selected to deliver the invocation at Barack Obama‘s inauguration was the little black cloud that crawled inside the silver lining that day for a lot of Americans who support gay rights.

Given with Rick Warren‘s deep involvement with Pastor Ssempa on matters including gay rights and AIDS issues in Uganda, “Newsweek” magazine asked Pastor Rick Warren his opinion of this proposed “kill the gays” law in Uganda.

Mr. Warren responded by distancing himself from Martin Ssempa, but also by refusing to condemn the proposal saying, quote, “It is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations.”

In a moment, we‘ll speak with Jeff Sharlet who has written extensively about the secret of Evangelical religious organization called The Family. We first started discussing The Family on this show when it emerged as a player in, not two, but three Republican sex scandals - those of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, Nevada Senator John Ensign and the alleged sex scandal involving former Mississippi Congressman Chip Pickering.

The Family, among other things, provides well-below market rent housing for a select group of members of Congress at its, until recently, nearly tax-exempt church on Capitol Hill - a house called C Street.

Jeff Sharlet is now reporting that there aren‘t just ties between American Evangelical Rick Warren and the “kill the gays” bill in Uganda. He reports that, in fact, the president of Uganda and the legislator who introduced the “kill the gays” bill are more than just supported by American Evangelicals. They are both members of The Family.

Joining us now is Jeff Sharlet, author of “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.” He is also a contributing editor to “Harper‘s” magazine. Jeff, it‘s nice to see you again. Thanks for joining us.

JEFF SHARLET, AUTHOR, “THE FAMILY”: Good to be back, Rachel. Thanks.

MADDOW: So who introduced the “kill the gays” bill and what‘s his connection to The Family?

SHARLET: It‘s a member of parliament named David Bahati who has been very involved with a sort of conservative Evangelical revival in Uganda, very involved with a lot of American Evangelical groups and has also taken a leadership role in The Family‘s Uganda operation through something called the African Student Leadership Program at the Uganda‘s National Prayer Breakfast, which is an offshoot of the prayer breakfast The Family hosts every year here in the United States.

So he‘s got this leadership role that puts him not just at the sort of the margin of things, but functioning as one of their key men on the ground in Uganda.

MADDOW: In the big picture, why is The Family interested in Uganda? Why are they interested in operating there? And what are their goals there?

SHARLET: Well, The Family has always viewed its religious outreach, its worldwide spiritual offensive, as they describe it, in very clear geopolitical terms. Uganda, right now, is an incredibly important country for world politics. It‘s functioning in many ways as a U.S. proxy with Sudan, with Congo, with Rwanda.

There‘s oil in that general region and The Family needs to have a presence out there. They‘ve had that presence in Uganda since 1986 when they sent over a man to recruit Museveni who was then the new leader. Didn‘t look like a bright Democratic spot in African leadership. And they recruited him to be one of their main brothers, as they put it, for the whole continent.

MADDOW: So President Museveni in Uganda - he‘s not explicitly backing this horrendous bill. But it is thought that he tacitly supports it, at least as far as I can tell, and that the ethics and integrity minister in his government is vocally in favor of this thing. You‘re saying he has Family connections that go back decades.

SHARLET: Yes, to 1986. And it‘s hard to call it passive support when he‘s coming out there and saying that homosexuality is a plot that‘s sort of being imposed on Africa by Europe and that this is a time for Africans to rally together against sort of the foreign influence of homosexuality.

Now, Museveni is - the thought in Ugandan politics is that he‘s sort of letting other guys take the lead on this. But through his ethics minister, who is the main organizer of the National Prayer Breakfast in Uganda and it‘s his right-hand man - he‘s got a direct involvement.

And just last week, in fact, Museveni responded to questions from Uganda‘s main newspaper, is he a part of The Family. And his press secretary said, “Well, I can‘t answer that.” But it certainly sounds like an organization the president would like to be a part of but only if they really, really hate homosexuals.

MADDOW: Wow. That bastardization of that Groucho Marx quote is running through my head right now. Back in July, Jeff, you uncovered a video and we played it on the show, of Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a Republican senator in the United States. He‘s got admitted association with C Street and The Family.

We played video that you found of him talking about his trips taken to Africa on the urging of leaders of The Family. I just want a real quick clip to remind folks here.

SEN. JIM INHOFE(R-OK): If you‘re a member of the United States Senate, in Africa, they think you are important, so you can always go to see the kings.

MADDOW: You always get in to see the kings. Is Sen. Inhofe or any other American politician powerful enough among Ugandan politicians that they could derail this legislation if they wanted to?

SHARLET: Well, working with colleagues, I‘ve reached out to Inhofe‘s office and he refuses to say a word about it despite the fact that he likes to boast of his incredibly close relationship with Ugandan politics. He‘s attended the Uganda National Prayer Breakfast. He says, in fact, he has adopted the nation and he regularly travels over there in behalf of The Family. Yet, he‘s refused to condemn it. Does he have the influence? We don‘t know because he‘s not exerting it. It‘s just like Rick Warren. Could Rick Warren, who has designated Uganda a purpose-driven nation, make a difference?

We don‘t know because they‘re not trying. And I think that‘s the kind of the bottom line with the American involvement. There‘s been a lot of American support for the guys who are promoting this bill and no pushback against this incredibly hateful piece of violence put in the legislation.

MADDOW: Jeff Sharlet is author of “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.” Thanks, as always, for joining us, Jeff. I really appreciate it.

SHARLET: Thanks, Rachel.
Onto the clip from December 1st, 2009:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Rachel Maddow: [T]oday is world AIDS Day. And for that occasion, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced a ground-breaking Obama administration policy which, awkwardly enough, reverses a policy implemented during the Reagan administration that was codified into law during the Clinton administration. It‘s a law that banned HIV positive people from traveling to the United States. The Obama administration has finally dropped that inexplicable ban and one immediate consequence of that is that the world‘s largest AIDS conference can once again be held in the United States. For the first time since 1990, when you might recall Paula Abdul‘s “Opposites Attract” was the No. 1 hit.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Today, I‘m pleased to announce that with the repeal of the ban, the International AIDS Society will hold the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.


MADDOW: Secretary Clinton also using World AIDS Day to make a legacy-defining statement that the United States would not tolerate homophobia on the international stage.


CLINTON: We have to stand against any efforts to marginalize and criminalize and penalize members of the LGBT community, worldwide. It is an unacceptable step backwards on behalf of human rights.


MADDOW: And if that sounded to you like an oblique reference to the Kill the Gay‘s bill in Uganda which we covered last night on this show, yes, it sounded like that to me, too.

We are learning more today about anti-gay extremism in Uganda and its connections to American extremists. Last night, investigative journalist, Jeff Charlotte, laid out for us the web connecting the author of the bill, calling for the death penalty for so-called “aggravated homosexuality” in Uganda. The connections between him and Pastor Rick Warren. And to our favorite denizens of “C” Street, the family.

But three other Americans are also closely linked to the proposed Kill the Gay‘s law. They are members of the so-called, “Ex-gay Movement,” who back, in March, spoke at a conference in Uganda, and riling up anti-gay fervor in that country.

The direct result of that conference, according to in-depth coverage in London‘s “Guardian” newspaper, was this bill that‘s now before the Ugandan parliament. So, who were the Americans who went to Uganda to stir up anti-gay fervor? And why are at least two of them now distancing themselves from the harsh consequences of their rhetoric? We‘ll have much more about them on tomorrow night‘s show, you may want to clear your schedule.
And finally, the most recent clip from December 2nd, 2009:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Transcript mine:

Rachel Maddow: Bill number 18, The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, section 2, subsection 2: A person who commits the offense of homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.

Section 3, subsection 2: A person who commit’s the offense of aggravated homosexuality shall be liable on conviction to suffer death.

Section 4, subsection 1: A person who attempts to commit the offense of homosexuality commits a felony, and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for 7 years.

If you attempt to commit aggravated homosexuality, that’s life imprisonment.

Then there’s Section 13, subsection 1B: A person who funds or sponsors homosexuality is liable on conviction to a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 7 years imprisonment.

Then there’s Section 14: Where if you know if someone who’s gay, you can get 3 years for not reporting that person to the authorities.

Then there’s section 16, where they will extradite their citizens from anywhere in the world, back to this country for prosecution if that citizen commits any of these crimes of homosexuality, somewhere else on God’s green Earth.

This is Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 [PDF, courtesy Warren Throckmorton, via the Rachel Maddow show]. It was introduced this fall after 3 American evangelical activists, who proclaim that homosexuality can be cured, traveled to Uganda this spring to lead an anti-homosexuality inspirational seminar. The more we investigate, the more Americans we’ve turned up with links to this, so I will warn you that you can expect some continuing coverage from us on this issue.

But tonight, we’ve obtained some reactions from the three anti-gay American activists who’s travel to Uganda is credited with inspiring the kill-the-gays legislation.

They are Don Schmierer of the group Exodus International, a group that claims that Christianity can cure you of being gay. Also, Caleb Lee Brundidge of the group The International Healing Foundation, which also says that it tries to change gay people into straight people. And there’s Scott Lively, president of a group called Defend the Family, and author a book call The Pink Swastika.

These are the three American anti-gay gay-people-can-be-cured speakers who traveled to Uganda earlier this year, and who are credited with having inspired the kill-the-gays bill that is being considered in that country now.

Mr. Schmierer has said the he is opposed to the kill-the-gays legislation, and he says that he’s signed onto a letter to Uganda’s president, against it.

The group with which Mr. Brundidge is associated, first, denied knowing anything about the bill’s existence, and asked us for a copy of it. After we emailed them the legislation, they issued a statement that quote “We condemn any harsh and extreme punishment of persons who identify as homosexual or engage in homosexual behavior. Instead, we advocate education and counseling for those who experience unwanted Same-Sex Attraction.”

Education and counseling to cure you of ’the gay.’

Then there’s the last one, Mr. Scott Lively, the Pink Swastika guy. He told Lifesite that the law is too harsh, but quoting “Dr. Lively explained that the impetus for the bill was "a lot of external interference from European and American gay activists attempting to do in Uganda what they've done around the world - homosexualize that society." One of their main concerns, explained Mr. Lively, "are the many male homosexuals coming in to the country and abusing boys who are on the streets."

So I mean, can you really blame them? I mean, of course Uganda wants to execute people for being gay. May be a little harsh, but it’s a normal reaction to all this pressure they’ve been getting. Can you blame them?

We thank Mr. Lively, Mr. Schmierer, and Mr. Brundidge, for giving us their reactions to the bill they reportedly inspired, to the extent that they responded to our calls for comment.

If American anti-gay activists inspired this bill, are there other Americans who have the clout to stop it from passing? You bet there are, and it turns out that a lot of them are household names. And so far, as far as we can tell, they have done nothing. We continue to investigate this, our next segment on the kill-the-gays bill tomorrow will familiarize you with some of the Americans who probably could stop this, who apparently don’t want to. That’s tomorrow.
So stay tuned. Literally, The Rachel Maddow show airs on MSNBC @ 9E 8C

1 comment:

libhom said...

Warren would like nothing more than to kill us here in the US too.