(Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
A Washington D.C.-based LGBT activist group condemned President Barack Obama's participation at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, describing it as "tantamount to supporting the killing of LGBT people around the world."
GetEQUAL, a nonprofit founded in 2010 by Robin McGehee and Kip Williams, said that among the 3,500 attendees at the Feb. 7 event in D.C. were sponsors from the Fellowship Foundation, a group of conservative evangelical organizations also known as "The Family."
"For another year, President Obama has chosen to set aside his stated values of inclusion in order to attend the National Prayer Breakfast – an event rooted in hatred of LGBT people and covered up by pastries and coffee," said Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL in a statement.
The gay rights group claims that some leaders from the Fellowship Foundation have ties to an infamous anti-gay bill in Uganda that would criminalize homosexuality. The Ugandan government is also debating a proposed provision to that bill which might lead to the death penalty for gay people, which has been condemned by the international community and many prominent Christian leaders, such as Rick Warren from Saddleback Church in California.
"There are so many communities of faith that fully embrace LGBT people and that are rooted in social justice – we really don't understand why President Obama continues to give his permission for 'The Family' to support killing LGBT folks abroad," Cronk added. "If the president is looking for ways to publicly demonstrate that he's a man of faith, he needs to find ways to do so without simultaneously putting the lives of LGBT people in jeopardy."
The Fellowship Foundation has completely denied any such support for the Uganda anti-gay bill, however.
GetEQUAL says its purpose is to "empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and our allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way."
The group insists that Obama's participation at the Prayer Breakfast, an annual event that has traditionally been attended by America's presidents, can be seen as support for the death penalty provision.
During the 2010 National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama addressed that exact issue, saying: "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 is here in the United States or ... more extremely, in odious laws that are being proposed more recently in Uganda."
GetEQUAL acknowledge Obama's previous statement on the Uganda bill, but says that the president has no excuse for attending the Prayer Breakfast and supporting such an event.
Ross Murray, director of Religion, Faith & Values at GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) argued, however, that Obama's participation at the prayer event can only be a good thing for those concerned with life and liberty for all.
"President Obama used his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast to call for life and liberty for all, including the gay and lesbian people of Uganda, whose very lives and livelihoods are under attack by the same people who are sponsoring the National Prayer Breakfast," Murray told The Christian Post in an email on Thursday.
"Our president is a living example that challenges the misconception that Christians cannot accept and support LGBT people. By participating in the National Prayer Breakfast, our president is reminding Americans of all stripes that his actions to protect gay and lesbian people are not simply political decisions. They are biblically informed values that have been instilled in him over the course of a lifetime."
Obama has been described as the most pro-gay president in U.S. history and has the support of many gay rights groups, particularly after announcing his support for same-sex marriage last May. Since then, he also pushed for LGBT equality during his inauguration speech in January, and has recently backed the proposed repeal of the Boy Scouts of America's long-standing ban on homosexuals.
Correction: Feb. 8, 2013:
This article in its original release stated that GetEQUAL was a nonprofit founded in 2010 by David Badash. It was in fact founded in 2010 by Robin McGehee and Kip Williams.