LGBT Leaders Weigh Obama's Faith-Based Initiative

LGBT activists are riled up over Obama's White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, saying the program lacks anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

BY Kerry Eleveld

February 07 2009 12:00 AM ET

Asked if there
were compromises to be struck with the Christian right on
LGBT concerns, Knox drew a distinction between council
members like Frank Page and those who are more
moderate-to-progressive, such as Joel Hunter of the
Florida-based Northland Church or Jim Wallis of
Sojourners in Washington, D.C.

“My
experience of interacting with evangelical leaders is that
some are further along in their honest understanding
of who LGBT people really are,” he said, noting
that some Christian conservatives are wrestling with
how to reconcile being part of a group that “exists
in large part to hate LGBT people” and yet
“serving a Christ who is about inclusion and
love unconditionally.”

Knox referenced
the fact that Joel Hunter had signed onto a statement
calling for passage of employment protections for lesbians,
gays, and bisexuals, though it fell short of including
transgender people.

“For an
evangelical like Joel Hunter to come that far -- that
represents real movement,” he said.

Conservative
leaders who have shown movement on gay issues can also
suffer serious repercussions, he noted. One of the
Christian right’s most influential, Richard
Cizik, who was chief lobbyist and vice president of
governmental affairs for the National Association of
Evangelicals, was forced to resign last December after he
said he supported same-sex civil unions in a National
Public Radio interview with Terry Gross.

“They take
real risks in being part of these conversations, so we
should honor that risk even as we continue to press
them,” Knox said. “We can never give up
on them completely because what they need is education and
the time to digest what they have learned and come to terms
with it. It’s our role to keep pushing them to
not be satisfied with where they are today.”

Tags: Politics

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