I watched Rachel Maddow's recent interview with David Bahati, sponsor of Uganda's legislation to give life imprisonment or the death penalty to homosexuals (which Rachel calls the "Kill the Gays Bill") with my mouth wide open the whole time. I was in disbelief.
Firstly, I found it amazing that she got him to come in for an interview. Secondly, I couldn't believe someone could still feel that way about gays and even more remarkable, I was amazed at how Rachel kept her composure while her guest kept posturing about how he was doing it for the "children."
Bahati was spouting this theory that homosexuals in Uganda were "recruiting" children in the schools. Maddow calmly told him this type of reasoning has been used for years around the world and there has never been any proof that it is true. She asked him to send her videos or testimonials to back up his claim and he said he would send them to her (she has yet to receive any of his evidence.)
Prior to the interview, Rachel showed clips of American Evangelists such as the Rev. Jerry Falwell in the 1970s declaring of homosexuals: "They can't reproduce, so they recruit." Where have we heard that before?
Maddow to me is a profile in bravery because she is taking on an issue no one else in cable news will touch. Of course, for her it's personal. Some may say because she is openly gay that she is biased. I say that is a good thing. Others may say it's an Ugandan problem that the United States should not pry into.
In truth, as shown in Rachel's past enlightening reporting about the "Family", a group of Christian politicians that live on C Street in DC, there is a connection. In fact, as revealed in Jeff Sharlet's book The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, David Bahati is an Ugandan "Family" member.
It's true that some U.S. religious leaders such as Pastor Rick Warren have condemned the Bill as going too far. But have all these years of sending Christian missionaries to developing nations helped propagate the myth that homosexuality is a sin that can be taught to children?
That belief seems to be what Bahati espouses. He said his bill was "God's Law". When prodded by Rachel about what God's punishment was he said that homosexuality was a sin and that the "wages of sin is death." (Although later he said he was taking out the execution part of the bill and only leaving life imprisonment.)
This is scary stuff. I could feel my blood pressure rising. I could not have held my temper if I were interviewing him. But that is me and Rachel Maddow is Rachel Maddow. She, as a model of self restraint, was cool and collected and corrected him several times when he said he was not Hitler or Saddam Hussein by telling him "let's be clear, I never accused you of that."
This issue is personal for me too because an in-law accused me of turning her teenage sons gay. I never even spoke to them about me being a lesbian and they deny that they are gay, but somehow she has this notion that I influenced them. Not only that, she called me all kinds of names: dirty, freak, and pervert.
Both she and Bahati seem to be removed from reality and science. Homosexuality is no longer considered a mental illness and there have been studies done that prove being gay is genetic. But we gays already knew that. Because I wanted to be considered "normal", I tried for years to be straight to no avail. I am much happier and at peace now accepting who I am.
So this notion of "recruiting" is so off-base as to be ridiculous. And as for God and the "natural" argument: besides it being natural for me to be gay, there have been studies that show many animal species practice homosexuality. I suppose my sister in-law and David Bahati would consider giraffes "sinners."
Maddow told Bahati that if the bill passes, Uganda will be considered a rogue nation going against the trend of the rest of the world and that he may be held accountable by the global community.
I am thankful to Rachel Maddow for having the courage to stand up for the truth and the self discipline to keep her cool in an infuriating interview. To me the wages of ignorance is this type of bill and it is up to all of us, gay and straight, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Atheist to join Rachel Maddow in speaking out against it.
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