NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Vice President Al Gore stepped up the national dialogue over civil rights protection for homosexuals in a Nov. 16 news conference, saying God creates homosexuals and that God is grieved at their mistreatment.
Meeting with local reporters in his home state of Tennessee, Gore was asked about comments a month earlier in Beverly Hills, Calif., in which he praised Hollywood producers for forcing Americans to “look at sexual orientation in a more open light” with openly homosexual television characters.
God would have never made homosexuals if he knew they would be maltreated, Gore said, according to The (Nashville) Tennessean Nov. 16.
“I do not believe that God intended them to suffer persecution and discrimination throughout their lives here on earth. I do not believe God would have created them as he has and intend for them to be mistreated,” Gore said.
The head of the Southern Baptist’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission quickly disagreed with Gore. Richard Land said the debate over homosexuality has never been about “persecution” and discrimination, “but rather about whether as a society we are going to normalize deviant and abhorrent sexual behavior and stigmatize those who follow the Bible in condemning such behavior.”
Saying Christians are to separate the sin from the sinner and to detest only the sin, Land continued, “Vice President Gore evidently wants to redefine the sin out of existence.”
Land described the vice president’s remarks as so “wrong-headed” it was difficult to know where to begin to respond to them.
“Homosexuals and lesbians are a product of a sinful heart — both personal and societal in the form of absent fathers and childhood sexual abuse,” Land said, stressing God did not create the sexual orientation of homosexuals and lesbians.
“The Apostle Paul in the first chapter of the Book of Romans has given us the definitive and authoritative word from God about the origin of homosexuality,” Land said, noting that Paul wrote that “those who worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator,” God gave them over to their vile passions.
“For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful,” Land said, citing Paul’s letter to the Romans in the Bible.
In middle Tennessee for a fund-raising dinner for the state Democratic party, Gore said the movement for civil rights for homosexuals mirrors the drive for civil rights based on race three decades ago, according to The Tennessean report.
Legal discrimination against homosexuals “should not be encouraged and is wrong,” noting there have been homosexuals throughout history, Gore said, according to The Tennessean.
Gore’s comments came just a week after President Clinton’s groundbreaking appearance at a dinner hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, reportedly the homosexual movement’s largest political organization. The dinner was expected to raise $300,000 for the organization and featured the star of “Ellen,” Ellen DeGeneres, receiving a civil rights award from the group.
At the event Clinton said discrimination based on “sexual orientation” is “wrong, and it should be illegal.” He said the equality espoused in the Declaration of Independence has evolved in its definition and should include homosexuals.
The president expressed his belief that the Employment Non-discrimination Act, which would grant homosexuals the same workplace protection now provided to classifications as race, gender, age and disability, would become law. The bill, which failed to pass the Senate by only one vote, 50-49, last year, is not expected out of committee until January or early February.
Tom Strode contributed to this article.