Rev Irene Monroe

Obama's turn to the right leaves out poor LGBTQ Americans

Filed By Rev Irene Monroe | July 09, 2008 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: African-American, Barack Obama, black, faith-based initiative, George W. Bush, Hurricane Katrina, LGBT, poor LGBT, poverty

The senate's most left leaning member, presidential hopeful Barack Obama, is now turning to the right.

And the turn, he's finding out, is not as easy as calculated.

On July 1, Obama announced partnering with communities of faith. His proposed plan is to dole out $5 million a year in federal funds through churches and other religious organizations to God's most disenfranchised- American's poor.

"The challenges was face today - from saving our planet to ending poverty - are simply too big for government to solve alone," Obama announced outside a community center in Zanesville, Ohio.

While the moral imperative in any presidential hopeful's campaign should be to help the poor, the challenge Obama faces today that is too big to solve alone is winning evangelical Christians.

And the poor, in this instance, becomes Obama's political pawn to win over this important demographic group.

But by prohibiting these evangelical churches and religious charities from considering religion in their employment hiring, firing and serving the poor this constituency group is not buying Obama's sales pitch.

"For those of us who believe in protecting the integrity of our religious institutions, this is a fundamental right" Richard Cizik, vice president for government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals told the Associated Press. "He's rolling back the Bush protections. That's extremely disappointing."

But Obama's sales pitch is also extremely disappointing for a voting constituency within his targeted group- poor LGBTQ Americans.

While the requirements for receiving federal funds in Obama's faith-based program is to protects those in need from religious organizations' proselytizing, preaching and providing religious instructions, poor LGBTQ Americans would unlikely seek or receive help not only from anti-gay religious organizations but also gay-friendly ones as well.

Why?

Because implementing a theocratic model for government to effect laws and government structures in this country according to one's Christian ideal would not worked, on the best of days, in the favor of LGBTQ Americans.

The inherent discrimination in religious organizations like the Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and Bush's faith-based initiatives have all shown how uncompassionate Christian organizations can be.

And why would Obama's be any different?

For example, I remember a fundraising letter in November 2002 from Elizabeth Birch, former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign that stated, "The Salvation Army was in secret negotiations with the White House to win the legal right to discriminate against gay and lesbian workers in exchange for supporting President Bush's faith-based charity initiative."

In terms of which groups get picked for funding and which ones don't, LGBTQ activists and our allies have also shown the slim likelihood of queer faith-based groups like Metropolitan Community Church or Dignity would receive funding compared to Christian rights groups.

While many federal programs are in need of prayer, as Bush's faith-based Hurricane Katrina and Rita disaster relief organizations have shown, these organizations highlight unfortunately the fault lines of heterosexism, homophobia and faith-based privilege.

After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, for example, LGBTQ evacuees and their families faced discrimination at the hands of many of these faith-based relief organizations because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and/or HIV status.

And because the fault lines of race and sexual orientation are on the "down low" in the African-American community, many African-American LGBTQ evacuees experienced discrimination from black faith-based institutions, like the Black Church. With black churches a large part of the relief effort, and unabashedly known for their homophobia, African-American LGBTQ evacuees and their families had neither a chance nor a prayer for assistance.

When you have an administration that believes in less government involvement and more participation of faith-based groups, it slashes needed government programs by calling on churches and faith-based agencies, at taxpayer expense, to provide essential social services that would also impact the lives and well-being of its LGBTQ citizens. And with many of these faith-based agencies touting anti-gay religious vitriol, LGBTQ taxpayers and their families will be denied help, services and needed medical care, or be mistreated or denied shelter.

Faith is a necessary attribute to possess when engaging in acts of goodwill. Faith derives out of our shared human experience of struggle, especially in the face of social wrongs, human atrocities, and natural disasters.

But who would have ever thought that the hard earned gains that have been won to separate the church, an institution that summarily can and has excluded LGBTQ people, from the institution of the state, an institution that we have leverage to be included in, would show up in Obama's candidacy as it has in Bush's presidency?


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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 9, 2008 8:21 PM

One corrupted institution working with another corrupted institution.

Rev. Irene, as usual you are on point. I totally agree with your critique.

Despite the First Amendment, "faith-based" in America means "Christian-based" --- even for Obama.

Can you imagine how the GOP 527's will torpedo him if he even suggests that one government dollar go to a Jewish community group?

Can you imagine the nuclear fallout if he so much as waves that same dollar in the same room with the leaders of an Islamic charity?

Exactly how many "faith-based" funds have the Buddhists or Wiccans received during the Bush administration?

... In fact, we will be lucky if an Episcopal or Unitarian charity gets one "faith-based" dollar ... although a Roman Catholic group might have a ghost of a chance. What might happen if the Metropolitan Community Church applied for funding of a faith-based program? Too bad we don't have a US Supreme Court that will call this blatantly unconstitutional pandering exactly what it is!

Nerissa Belcher | July 10, 2008 1:38 AM

If you go to http://www.volunteersolutions.org/uwatl/org/10256889841.html you'll see a description of "The Hope Project." It is a religious affiliated program to help disadvantaged women. I volunteered to help educate these women. I was turned down since I'm a MTF transsexual. At the time (early 2005) the rent for the facility was paid for by the State of Georgia. Which by constitution does not allow funding for religious organizations. Yet, the manager of the facility refused to allow me to provide free service based upon his religious beliefs! IMO it is impossible to ensure faith based organizations don't discriminate against GLBT individuals when we can't even provide them free services. What are the odds such places would offer services to us?

I have extensive e-mail documentation of my go arounds with this organization should any media wish copies.

I have to say, when I was homeless and destitute the one place that wouldn't help and instead turned me away?

The Salvation Army.

"We don't approve of homosexuality."

Yes! What is this guy doing? As a Gay man and Registered Democrat I am so disenheartened to se Obama pandering to the Right. Knock it off Barack and get back on track before you lose your core constituents.

Yes! What is this guy doing? As a Gay man and Registered Democrat I am so disenheartened to se Obama pandering to the Right. Knock it off Barack and get back on track before you lose your core constituents.

Yes! What is this guy doing? As a Gay man and Registered Democrat I am so disenheartened to se Obama pandering to the Right. Knock it off Barack and get back on track before you lose your core constituents.

Yes! What is this guy doing? As a Gay man and Registered Democrat I am so disenheartened to se Obama pandering to the Right. Knock it off Barack and get back on track before you lose your core constituents.

Yes! What is this guy doing? As a Gay man and Registered Democrat I am so disenheartened to se Obama pandering to the Right. Knock it off Barack and get back on track before you lose your core constituents.

Yes! What is this guy doing? As a Gay man and Registered Democrat I am so disenheartened to se Obama pandering to the Right. Knock it off Barack and get back on track before you lose your core constituents.

Yes! What is this guy doing? As a Gay man and Registered Democrat I am so disenheartened to se Obama pandering to the Right. Knock it off Barack and get back on track before you lose your core constituents.

Yes! What is this guy doing? As a Gay man and Registered Democrat I am so disenheartened to se Obama pandering to the Right. Knock it off Barack and get back on track before you lose your core constituents.

Thank you, Rev Irene, for continuing to keep us aware of the times when Senator Obama falls short of his lofty vision and rhetoric. The past couple of weeks have not been good for his previously progressive agenda as Obama has shifted on issues from reproductive freedom to gun control to the death penalty to immunity for giant telecoms who break the law and trample our most basic rights. I pray that he finds a renewed progressive spirit and stops "retooling" and "repositioning" himself as in many ways non altogether different than than McCain and the Republicans.

Apparently, Jesse Jackson isn't impressed with Obama's huckstering faith-based gobbledygook to black churchgoers either. Just it case you've been visiting the International Space Station during the last 24 hours, you can check out Jackson badmouthing Obama --- and unexpectedly getting caught on tape --- here!

I'd call it "the stage whisper heard 'round the world" ...

I luv it! ... I just luv it!

Okay Irene, what I would like to know is, how this is going to help elect a democrat in November. Let's not beat around the bush here, there is a 99.9% chance that the next President will be Barack Obama or John McCain, and making Obama carry a cross for attempting to keep the faith-based initiatives is seriously costing us votes in a constituency that still is very hostile towards Obama: the LGBT community.

You write this without even the slightest acknowledgment of the fact that bar none, Barack Obama is unabashedly the best presumptive nominee we have ever had on the issues taht are important to us. Just because his faith-based initiatives wont have an impact on the disadvantaged sectors of our community doesn't mean that he is going to leave them out in the cold either. There are plenty of pro-gay non-religious groups that try to eradicate poverty, and they will certainly be recieving help from an Obama administration, as will all other impoverished demographics.

Poverty is a stain on our society and anything we can do to get fight it is more than welcomed, even if that means reaching out to people and groups that don't necessarily agree with us. So if the faith based groups want to only focus on straight people, that is totally fine, because in the end, thats less poverty that the world will experience. And if that means I have to pick up the slack to take care of the the poor LGBTs out there, then I will certainly work harder to do that.

But make no mistake, poverty is an issue too large for one organization to eliminate. We need all the help we can get to make sure it no longer affects anyone, straight or gay.