Boy Scouts defenders leave concerns unanswered
Congressmen write letter opposing Uganda anti-gay bill
WASHINGTON (BP)--Five U.S. congressmen have submitted a letter to Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni urging that he do everything within his constitutional authority to stop proposed anti-homosexuality legislation from becoming law in the African nation. The legislation has drawn intense criticism from various international settings as it threatens to penalize a single act of homosexual behavior with a life sentence or a mandatory death penalty if the person is HIV-positive. The five congressmen, all Republicans, wrote to Museveni Dec. 22 in their capacity as ranking members of the House's Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, but their appeal was based largely on their Christian faith, which Museveni shares. Reps. Frank Wolf of Virginia, Chris Smith of New Jersey, Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, Trent Franks of Arizona and Anh "Joseph" Cao of Louisiana referenced the Manhattan Declaration, signed in November by more than 140 leaders representing various branches of American Christianity. "As members of Congress, and as men of faith, we support the principles set forth in the Manhattan Declaration and are thankful for the principled position of these faith leaders on a host of issues, from the sanctity of life for the unborn and others, to religious freedom, to human dignity, to the belief that marriage is an institution between one man and one woman," the letter said. People of faith, the congressmen said, have a moral obligation to be involved in the public square and have been instrumental in moral victories including the abolition of slavery, racial desegregation and the end of apartheid. "Often times these individuals were propelled by a foundational Christian belief in the inherent dignity and worth of all men and women," the letter said. "We believe this legislation, if enacted, would be antithetical to that premise." The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, introduced in October, would expand the punishment for homosexual behavior, which currently is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment in Uganda. The bill also would require authority figures to report homosexuals within 24 hours of discovering their behavior, and if they fail to do so, such officials could be punished with up to three years in prison.