WASHINGTON (BP)–President Clinton again has proclaimed June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.
The proclamation came one year after Clinton became the first president to make such a designation. His 1999 proclamation elicited a sharp rebuke from Southern Baptists meeting at their yearly convention.
As he did last year, the president said in the proclamation he is proud of his administration’s achievements on behalf of homosexual rights. They have included, he said, the appointment of more open homosexuals to senior posts than in any other administration and a 1998 executive order prohibiting discrimination in the federal civilian workforce based on “sexual orientation,” which includes homosexuality.
In addition, Clinton’s June 2 proclamation repeated his call for Americans to observe the month “with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities that celebrate our diversity” and to recall the homosexual Americans whose “contributions have enriched our national life.”
After Clinton, a member of a Southern Baptist church, issued his groundbreaking proclamation last year, messengers to the SBC meeting in Atlanta, Ga., passed with near unanimity a resolution calling upon him to rescind the proclamation. It deplored the president’s “most public endorsement of that which is contrary to the Word of God.”
The messengers affirmed their love for the president and “for people enslaved in sins of all types, including homosexual sins” but said that love “compels us to rebuke him.”
The resolution also proclaimed “forgiveness of and freedom from homosexuality” is found in Jesus. It denounced violent attacks against homosexuals and expressed “abhorrence of the teaching that God hates any person on account of an immoral lifestyle.”
SBC President Paige Patterson said at the time the proclamation should be a basis for his church to discipline Clinton.
The proclamation is “entirely inconsistent with [Clinton’s] confession as an evangelical Christian and certainly as a Southern Baptist,” Patterson said. “When a member of a Southern Baptist church takes the position that he has taken in outright contradistinction to the Word of God, that church should act to bring about church discipline in that case.”
Clinton has been a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark., since 1980, according to church records.
The president never rescinded last year’s proclamation, and Immanuel Baptist Church never announced any disciplinary action toward him.
Immanuel, like many Southern Baptist churches, has not practiced discipline, including the removal of members, in recent decades. Immanuel has handled each moral transgression as a private matter between the individual and a minister, a staff member told Baptist Press.