All Rights reserved
As antigay statements from national religious and political leaders go, 2009 was especially rich. Here's a recap of the year's worst in hysterics, threats, and thinly veiled homophobic sentiment.
5. "NOM VOWS TO DC COUNCIL: We Will Overturn Your Same-Sex Marriage Bill." --National Organization for Marriage president Maggie Gallagher via a December tweet
The problem with Twitter is that anyone can use it. After the Washington, D.C., city council voted to approve marriage rights for same-sex couples, anti-gay-marriage maven Maggie Gallagher tweeted the above threat to mobilize her minions -- which, lamentably, she's rather good at doing. As the new decade dawns, here's to hoping NOM's winning streak in marriage battles will come to an end. Meanwhile, viva D.C. marriage equality.
4. "The fundamental dignity of every person, our right to be free, and the freedom to make moral choices are gifts endowed by God, our creator. However, it is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations." --Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren (pictured), in response to a Ugandan bill that calls for death sentences for gays and lesbians
Would one of America's preeminent evangelical leaders have made such a statement if he were transported back in time to, say, 1939? We're hoping not. After he declined to condemn the draconian legislation during a November appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Warren has since backpedaled, sending a video message urging Ugandan church leaders to take a stand against genocide: "While we can never deny or water down what God's Word clearly teaches about sexuality, at the same time the church must stand to protect the dignity of all individuals -- as Jesus did and commanded all of us to do." Amen.
3. "The definition of sexual orientation is wide open to all kinds of interpretations. And some day, some court, somewhere, if you're oriented toward animals, bestiality, then that's not something that could be held against you. ... which means you'd have to strike any law toward bestiality. [Or] if you're oriented toward corpses, toward children, all kinds of perversions. What most of us would call perversions. Some would say, 'It sounds like fun.'" --Texas congressman Louie Gohmert, attacking hate-crimes legislation and a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" on the House floor in October
Presented without comment.
2. "I regretted that vote later because it included things like cross-dressing, and a variety of other people involved in behaviors that weren't based on sexual orientation, just a preference for the way they dressed or behaved. So if you are a third-grade teacher and you are a man and you show up on Monday as Mr. Johnson and you show up on Tuesday as Mrs. Johnson, that is a little confusing to kids." --Minnesota governor and possible 2012 Republican presidential contender Tim Pawlenty (pictured) on voting for a 1993 state nondiscrimination law
Minnesota, the first state to include both sexual orientation and gender identity in its nondiscrimination law, is governed by a man who apparently thinks the latter protection isn't all that crucial. In a December Newsweek interview Pawlenty called the law "overbaked," even though he voted for it as a state legislator. Mara Kiesling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, wasted no time in slamming Pawlenty's comments. "He knew exactly what he was voting for," Keisling told The Advocate. "In the interview he was asked how his views have evolved. Well, they've evolved to become less inclusive. He's pandering to the far-right wing of his party, and picking on teachers who devote their lives to kids. ... It's cynical politics at its worst."
1. "What I believe the Scripture teaches is that homosexuality is not God's best." --Lakewood Church senior pastor Joel Osteen during a November appearance on The View
Sugar-coated bigotry is nothing new. But strangely this statement made by one of America's most popular megachurch pastors wasn't contested in any substantive way on The View. Sure, you'd expect goose bumps up and down Elizabeth Hasselbeck's arms whenever politely worded antigay slurs are spouted on live television, yet the usually strident Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg seemed to merely shrug. As to what "God's best" entails? If Osteen is the prototype, a mullet and a set of whitened teeth approaching ultraviolet intensity is a good start.