This morning, President Obama is chewing on hotcakes and fist-bumping Jesus at the 61st annual National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton.
The group that runs the breakfast is the Fellowship Foundation, also known (rather ominously) as “the Family,” and it’s worked its tentacles into all the major right-wing groups, pushing its covert agenda.
The Family is like a Who’s Who of anti-gay Senate Republicans, including Jim Inhofe, Tom Coburn, Jim DeMint and John Ensign. Ex-Governor Mark Sanford and ex-Rep. Chip Pickering, who both opposed LGBT equality before they were brought down by sex scandals, are also members in good standing.
If that rogue’s gallery of reactionaries isn’t enough to curdle your farina, some Family members have even been tied to Uganda’s odious “Kill the Gays” Bill, according to Time magazine. Ugandan legislator David Bahati even broached the idea of the death penalty for homosexuals at a National Prayer Breakfast in Uganda in 2009.
It’s true some legitimate humanitarians have attended the National Prayer Breakfast. And yes, President Obama has used it to address the crisis in Uganda: At the 2010 gathering, he said, “Surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians… in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.”
But can they really agree on that?
Bottom line, this isn’t an event a second-term president with a mandate for equality should attend.
But it brings to light the acute Democratic need to build bridges with folks who don’t want them. Most of the 3,500 people sitting at that breakfast, stuffing both sides of their mouths with waffles, hate Barack Obama. They hate everything he stands for, and they just hate him on principle. If someone was on fire and President Obama said he wanted to throw water on them, they’d turn off the faucet.
The President wasn’t invited because the Fellowship Foundation wants to work towards bipartisan unity. They want him there because it shows their followers how much power they wield. We beckon and he comes.
Openly attacking the Family during his State of the Union address might be asking too much, but certainly Barack can skip a meal—even the most important one of the day.