Family Research Council clarifies lobbying role on Anti-Homosexuality Bill resolution

Yesterday blogger Joe Jervis reported that the Family Research Council lobbied members of the House of Representatives against a resolution which expresses opposition to Uganda’s proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The measure, House Resolution 1064 (full text) was introduced February 3 by Howard Berman (D-CA) and referred to the House Committee on Foreign Relations the same day with 62 co-sponsors. The title of the resolution expresses the essential purpose:

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009″ under consideration by the Parliament of Uganda, that would impose long term imprisonment and the death penalty for certain acts, threatens the protection of fundamental human rights…

Jervis refers to a required lobbying report filed quarterly with the House and Senate. That report in full is here for review. The cost of all lobbying activity for the quarter on all issues was $25,000. The section relevant to the Ugandan resolution is a disclosure on page 3 that FRC conducted some lobbying activity regarding H.Res 1064.

Tom McClusky is listed as one of the two lobbyists and so I contacted him to ask how FRC lobbied and with whom. While he declined to say which members were lobbied, he said, “We didn’t necessarily lobby against or for the resolution but tried to work with offices to make the language more neutral on homosexuality.” He added his recollection was that “the original language was incorrect on what Uganda was doing as well.” McClusky said the lobbying took place before the resolution was introduced but did not say what, if anything, was altered as the result of their efforts. As for the Ugandan bill, he said that the FRC has never taken a position on the death penalty. Regarding H.Res. 1064, he added, “We have not taken a public position on the current resolution.”

I appreciate the clarification but I am disappointed that FRC would not go on to encourage the passage of H.Res 1064. As an evangelical, I am sad that some Christian groups are neutral or even speaking in favor of the Ugandan bill. To me, it wrong and short-sighted for Christian groups to complain about being mistreated or disrespected when those same groups are promoting or refusing to condemn the same treatment to those who hold different views.

UPDATE: In response to the reports such as described above the FRC issued a statement on their blog:

FRC Statement on H. Res. 1064

by JP Duffy

June 4, 2010

Inaccurate internet reports have been circulating indicating that the Family Research Council lobbied “against” a congressional resolution condemning a bill proposed in Uganda. The Uganda bill would have provided for the death penalty for something called “aggravated homosexuality.” Unfortunately, those spreading these false rumors deliberately failed to obtain the facts first.

FRC did not lobby against or oppose passage of the congressional resolution. FRC’s efforts, at the request of Congressional offices, were limited to seeking changes in the language of proposed drafts of the resolution, in order to make it more factually accurate regarding the content of the Uganda bill, and to remove sweeping and inaccurate assertions that homosexual conduct is internationally recognized as a fundamental human right.

FRC does not support the Uganda bill, and does not support the death penalty for homosexuality – nor any other penalty which would have the effect of inhibiting compassionate pastoral, psychological, and medical care and treatment for those who experience same-sex attractions or who engage in homosexual conduct.

If homosexual conduct is not a human right, then what is it? I do not understand the opposition to freedom of conscience from those who say the government is too involved in our lives.

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  • Timothy Kincaid

    Warren: what is your position on whether gay people should be executed.

    FRC: oh, we have no opinion.

    Timothy: Yes, FRC has an opinion. When confronted with obvious evil – and there’s no way for me to describe the notion of executing someone for being gay as other than evil – you have an opinion. In this case you just they want to admit their position.

    I think it can be difficult for most Christians to recognize the extent to which some of their more vocal (self-appointed) leaders truly hate gay people. Most Christians are NOT motivated by hatred. Most would find the Uganda bill to be abhorrent. Most would be shocked that groups claiming to be Christian would even consider it to be anything other than evil.

    And Warren, I think you are being too kind here. There is no “same treatment” comparison.

    There are no gay groups of which I am aware who would even consider jailing Christians for a minute, much less a lifetime, for simply being Christians. And execution, no way. Nor are there any real or legitimate gay groups who would not vocally oppose efforts to ban Christians from meeting, ban pro-Christian literature, or jail those who didn’t turn Christians in to the authorities for punishment.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    Or, to put it more personally:

    Tom McClusky would not object if I were to be executed for the “crime” of being gay.

    It is impossible for me to see this as anything other than hatred.

  • Mary

    To me, it wrong and short-sighted for Christian groups to complain about being mistreated or disrespected when those same groups are promoting or refusing to condemn the same treatment to those who hold different views

    Definitely, shortsighted and indifferent.

  • http://aebrain.blogspot.com Zoe Brain

    Clarification? Analyse what was said.

    Did they lobby against the bill – not necessarily.

    Are they in favour of killing Gays – they won’t say.

    What changes were made to the bill – no comment.

    Smoke, mirrors, bafflegab and baloney. But then – he’s a lobbyist, he does this professionally.

  • Lynn David

    Well, when you use wording like:

    Ugandan Resolution Pro-homosexual promotion

    In your paperwork, you are just opening yourself up for the expected interpretation.

    .

    But then again, the real use of the lobby without bringing undo attention to oneself is to lobby for the least action that brings you the desired outcome. In this case it may have been the change in wording in the House document which brought about the desired outcome for the FRC, that is no passage by the House. No doubt the FRC is most happy that a unified resolution was not passed by both houses of Congress.

  • F Young

    “To me, it wrong and short-sighted for Christian groups to complain about being mistreated or disrespected when those same groups are promoting or refusing to condemn the same treatment to those who hold different views.”

    Respectfully, this is not a valid comparison.

    There is no “same treatment” here at all, not even remotely. The Anti-Homosexuality Billis aimed at destroying homosexuality and homosexuals in Uganda though imrisonment and execution. It is genocide, not mere mistreatment or disrespect.

    Furthermore, the Bill is not directed against those “who hold different views” (except to the extent that it also crminalizes those who support homosexuality). Unlike religion, sexual orientation is a fundamental human characteristic, like gender or race, not a belief or view (much less a lifestyle). So, it is accurate to call it a genocide bill, more so that the Nuremberg laws, for example, since they did not incorporate the “Final Solution” within the laws themselves.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton Warren

      Lynn David – Good point

      F Young – Another good point. I think I was too kind as Timothy K says. FRC finesses this issue when the righteous response is to condemn the Ugandan bill and lobby in favor of passage of the House resolution. I can see a group saying this is not our issue so we don’t have a view. But once you get involved as FRC did, I don’t see how you can stay neutral.

  • rockface

    People are mad because FRC had to pick their battles and this bill did not make the cut. Maybe if gays had helped contribute to FRC, they would have had the funding to continue.

  • Richard Willmer

    People are mad (as in angry) because the FRC was mad (as in dangerously deranged) to try to push this. Noone, Christian or otherwise, who understands this odious (to use President Obama’s word) bill can possibly fail to oppose it – apart from those who drafted and proposed it: their objectives are indeed ‘genocidal’ ones: http://lezgetreal.com/2010/08/ugandas-david-bahati-admits-he-wants-to-kill-every-last-gay-person/

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