LGBT activists protest National Prayer Breakfast

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Thursday February 3, 2011

Dozens of Washingtonians protested outside the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, Feb. 3, to draw attention to what they described as the organizer's connections to homophobia and anti-gay violence in Uganda.

President Obama is among those who attended the annual event inside the Washington Hilton. Protest organizers told EDGE they staged their protest-Breakfast Without Bigotry-to highlight The Fellowship's connections to Ugandan lawmaker David Bahati's so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would impose the death penalty upon anyone found guilty of repeat same-sex sexual acts. The also blamed the organization, also known as The Family, for inciting further homophobia and even anti-gay violence in the African country.

GetEQUAL DC organizer Charles Butler further stressed Ugandan gay activist David Kato's murder on Jan. 26 adds an additional sense of urgency. "It demonstrates why this is important," he said. "It really highlights the situation in Uganda is really dire for people like us."

Gay philanthropist Mitchell Gold agreed.

"I'm here because too many of the people who are inside the National Prayer Breakfast don't understand the harm they are doing by trafficking their religion-based bigotry," he said as he held a sign reading 'End the harm from religion based bigotry.' "David Kato's death shows the slippery slope of people who claim to interpret the Bible literally."

Obama described Kato as "a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom" in a statement the White House released shortly after his death. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, are among those who also condemned the activist's murder.

An International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission-organized vigil is scheduled to take place near the United Nations in Manhattan later on Thursday, Feb. 3. Those who protested outside the National Prayer Breakfast, however, hope more people will challenge those who support Uganda's homophobic attitudes and laws.

"I'm standing against bigotry and this Ugandan bill," said Washingtonian Joey Heath, referring to Bahati's measure that remains before the Ugandan Parliament. "Injustice anywhere, oppression anywhere-I have to stand up against it as a future pastor."

Ravenna Motil-McGuire told EDGE she hoped passersby would learn more about The Fellowship's track record in Uganda. And Minister Darryl! Moch of Inner Light Ministries in Washington, D.C., said he and his congregation participated in the Breakfast Without Bigotry to demonstrate their support for a gay Ugandan who attends services at their church who just received asylum in the United States.

"We have stood by him for more than a year," he said. "We will continue to stand by people who are struggling."

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.