BY Advocate Contributors
March 19 2010 1:40 PM ET
It has been my privilege for the last year to serve as a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. As one of the two openly gay members of the advisory council, I want to give a brief report to the LGBT community on what was accomplished.
When President Obama was inaugurated, he inherited a faith-based initiative that was distrusted by many Americans, including many LGBT folk. Many frankly questioned whether faith-based organizations should be conduits for provision of services that make up the fabric of the social safety net. The president believes that the government can’t do everything; it doesn’t have the infrastructure, cultural competency, or the relationships required to efficiently and effectively meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us. The government works best in coalition with other organizations that spring from and understand local constituencies and issues. Many of the organizations that do have the necessary cultural competency and that are already providing otherwise secular services in local communities are faith-based organizations.
The council was charged by the president to make recommendations on how best to improve and enhance partnerships with faith-based and other, secular, community-based organizations. The name of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives was changed to the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (OFNP) to reflect the broader focus on all those who serve our fellow Americans. The president asked the council to concentrate, through task forces, on six topical areas: economic recovery and domestic poverty, fatherhood and healthy families, environment and climate change, interreligious cooperation, global poverty and development, and reform of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. (You can see the full report on the recommendations in this PDF.) I served on the last task force, which sought to put the OFNP on a more legal and constitutionally sound footing.
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