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Senator Lott's comments on Homosexuality

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In the middle of 1998-JUN, we saw another angry political exchange over homosexuality. The usual dichotomy over human sexual orientation surfaced:
bullet Conservatives treated homosexuality as an addictive disorder; a sin; something that people do; a problem that people need help to escape from.
bullet Liberals, gays and lesbians interpreted homosexuality as something that people are. Gays and lesbians need help - but not to escape from what they are; they need it to attain equal rights and a society free of bigotry.

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The exchange of views:
bullet On 1998-JUN-15, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) called homosexuality a "sin" in a TV interview. (1) He said:

"You should still love that person. You should not try to mistreat them or treat them as outcasts. You should try to show them a way to deal with that problem, just like alcohol...or sex addiction...or kleptomaniacs."

"There are all kinds of problems, addictions, difficulties, experiences of things that are wrong, but you should try to work with that person to learn to control that problem"

bullet Winnie Stachelberg, political director of the Human Rights Campaign, said that Lott's comments show "how the extreme right wing has a stranglehold on the leadership [of Congress]." She also said that Lott is "out of step" with scientific studies of the causes of sexual orientations. "The medical community, the mental health community for 20 years now has known homosexuality is not a disorder."
bullet Rebecca Isaacs, political director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force commented in a press release: "To have the leader of the U.S. Senate engaging in this kind of scapegoating and hate mongering is a moral outrage. The seriousness of this rhetoric cannot be overstated. Senator Lott is obviously deep in the pocket of the extremist right...We are not mollified by Senator Lott couching his hate in the context of the Bible and claiming people should still 'love the sinner.' This is hateful rhetoric, and we believe most Americans will see it for what it is." (2)
bullet On JUN- 17, Rev. Troy D. Perry, moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC) responded. (3) "Senator Lott owes an apology to the millions of American citizens who are gay or lesbian. His statements this week are a sobering reminder of our nation's unfinished work in the fight against ignorance and prejudice. He continued:

"I'd welcome an opportunity to introduce the Senator to the hundreds of thousands of gays and lesbians with whom I've worked over the past 30 years who live in stable family relationships, who work hard at their jobs, who pay their taxes, who have parented children and who contribute their time and energy to local and civic organizations. And I'd like to introduce him to the legions of gay Americans who believe in and love God and who actively participate in the life of their local churches, synagogues and other houses of worship. For the past three decades, I have joined hands with clergy of every faith to
affirm the spirituality of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons with this message: God loves all people unconditionally.

"Name calling and accusations never elevate public debate," said Perry, noting that the gay community has long been the subject of such attacks. "The capitalists called us communists. The communists called us decadent. The psychiatrists called us sick. And the churches called us sinful. Well, it's a lie. Homosexuality is not a sin, and it's not a sickness."

"I respectfully suggest the Senator spend less time judging the gay community, and spend more time working for legislation which will protect the equal rights of all Americans."

bullet White House spokesman Mike McCurry said: "For over 25 years, it's been quite clear that sexual orientation is not an affliction, it is not a disease, it is something that is a part of defining one's sexuality. And the fact that the majority leader has such views, apparently consistent with some who are fairly extreme in his party, is an indicator of how difficult it is to do rational work in Washington." (5) Lott's communications director, Susan Irby, responded: "Mr. McCurry's experience within this White House does not qualify him to tell the American people what is right and what is wrong. What he considers to be backward are the views and values of the great majority of Americans, who understand and are concerned about the grave social and ethical questions our country faces." [We suspect that she was not referring to homophobia.]
bullet House Majority Leader Dick Armey, (R-TX), said that "The Bible is very clear on this. Now, both myself and Senator Lott believe very strongly in the Bible...I abide by the instructions that are given to me in the Bible."
bullet Will Dodson, public policy director of the Southern Baptist's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said: "Senator Lott and Congressman Armey are absolutely correct. Scripture is as clear as it can be that homosexuality is a sin. It is clear in many references in Scripture, not the least of which is Romans chapter 1...The statements from the White House on this issue, as usual, are more concerned with political correctness than with biblical correctness. The legacy of this White House on matters of sexual mores is a disgrace. I am grateful that there are public officials who are willing to take a stand for what is right."
bullet Focus on the Family founder and president James Dobson said: "Leaders willing to be set apart and stand solidly in the truth are rare in today's permissive culture. It is far easier to go with the tide than willingly subject oneself to the fury of homosexual activists, the media and the political elite. We applaud their boldness in the face of great personal risk."

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  1. Associated Press release, "Lott: Gays Need Help 'to Deal With That Problem," 1998-JUN-16
  2. Tracey Conaty, "Lott sinks low into the pocket of the extremist right," Press Release, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 1998-JUN-17. See:
  3. The Rev. Troy D. Perry, "Rev. Troy Perry Calls For Apology From Senator Lott," Press Release, Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, 1998-JUN-17
  4. Jim Abrams, "McCurry, Lott aide spar over gay issue," Associated Press, 1998-JUN-17
  5. Mike McCurry, Press Briefing, 1998-JUN-16 at:

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