The Boston rally against the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill ("AHB") drew a feisty, hardy crowd of about 40-50 activists to Government Center Thursday evening, despite ferocious wind and cold. The speakers were outstanding. Pam Chamberlain of Political Research Associates noted that Obama's and Clinton's criticism of the AHB at the National Prayer Breakfast came as a result of pressure applied by the LGBT community, but didn't go far enough. Pam painted a stark picture of the religious right networks in this country whose bilous homophobia has global reach. She called out three key fundamentalists who deserve particular reproach for their role in instigating the Ugandan AHB, including the Rev. Rick Warren and Massachusetts-based anti-gay extremist Scott Lively. She was followed by Join the Impact MA ("JTIMA") Co-Chair Kate Leslie, who connected the dots to relate the bigotry manifest in Uganda to efforts to obstruct progress to full federal equality in the United States. Kate energized the crowd by leading some chants.
The Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma, an African Anglican priest and author of the report Globalizing the Culture Wars, described the suffering of LGBT people in Africa as something which made the fierce cold seem pleasant by contrast. He named several African bishops who are players in the American culture wars, receiving funds from the religious right and patronizing breakaway anti-gay Episcopal parishes in the US. Rich Gardner of GLAAD praised the young gay Ugandan named Moses who spoke out against homophobia at a press conference in Washington on Tuesday, wearing a bag over his head to guard against retaliation. Michael Airhart of Truth Wins Out denounced the role of the US ex-gay movement in fueling the lies that the AHB is based on.
Akunna Eneh of JTIMA and the International Socialist Organization expressed solidarity with the Uganda LGBT community and said the best way to respond to the AHB was to fight bigotry in this country. Meanwhile, Ben Chasen-Sokol, President of the Gay/Straight Alliance at Brookline High School announced a letter-writing campaign aimed at the Ugandan Ambassador to the United Nations, and collected letters on site.
The Boston protest was part of a larger effort to raise awareness about "The Family's" ties to the AHB in connection with the National Prayer Breakfast, which it sponsors. A protest was held outside the infamous C Street House in Washington last night; a picture from the protest ran in Thursday's New York Times. In at least 17 cities "American Prayer Hours" were held, to advance an alternative religious tradition to the elitist fundamentalism of The Family. Given the coverage of the Prayer Breakfast, LGBT activists succeeded in suffusing the event with the controversy over The Family's sponsorship of homophobia in Africa. The religious right is having to pay a public relations penalty with the exposure of its extremism.
Thanks to all who made the protest a success. We had a good turnout of Join the Impact loyalists and were joined by student groups from Sharon High School and Framingham State College. Bay Windows will have the best coverage. Check out the media attention to the larger controversy in Google News.