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White House calls Lott ‘backward’ after he says homosexuality is sin

WASHINGTON (BP)–The White House, continuing its defense of homosexual rights, called Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott “backward in [his] thinking” and prejudiced after the Mississippi senator asserted homosexuality is a sin.
White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry also implied Lott is irrational, even though most Christian denominations, including the Southern Baptist Convention, condemn homosexual practice. McCurry’s criticism of Lott followed by less than a week a resolution adopted at the SBC’s annual meeting that called on Congress to overturn President Clinton’s recent executive order extending job protection in the federal government to homosexuals.
In a televison interview, Lott, like Clinton a member of a Southern Baptist church, was asked if homosexuality is a sin.
“It is,” Lott said, according to a partial transcript of the interview.
“Now, I want to emphasize very importantly … you should still love that person,” he added. “And you should not try to mistreat them or treat them as outcasts. You should try to show them, you know, a way to deal with that problem, just like my father had problems, as I said, with alcoholism. Other people have sex addiction. Other people are kleptomaniacs. There’s all kinds of problems and addictions, and difficulties, and experiences of things that are wrong! But, you should try to work with that person to learn to control that problem and to build a life that, I think, is called for by the Bible.”
At a news briefing the next day, June 16, McCurry was asked what the president thought of the Republican leader’s comments on homosexuality.
“He thinks that the American people understand how difficult it is to get business done in Washington sometimes when you’re dealing with people who are so backward in their thinking,” McCurry said, according to a transcript of the briefing. “For over 25 years, it’s been quite clear that sexual orientation is not an affliction. It is not a disease. It is something that is part of defining one’s sexuality. And the fact that the majority leader has such views, apparently consistent with some who are fairly extreme in his party, is an indicator of how difficult it is to do rational work in Washington.”
McCurry apparently referred to the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
A reporter mentioned Lott’s opposition to Clinton nominee James Hormel, an open homosexual who has promoted homosexual rights, as ambassador to Luxembourg. Although Hormel was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lott has refused to bring his nomination to the floor for a vote.
“Why would they oppose someone who is otherwise well-qualified to be a U.S. ambassador other than the prejudice that exists in their minds against people who are gay and lesbian?” McCurry said. “It’s because they have views that are, to put it charitably, quite out of date.”
The majority leader’s office responded promptly and firmly.
“Mr. McCurry’s experience within this White House does not qualify him to tell the American people what is right and what is wrong,” said Susan Irby, the majority leader’s communications director, in a written statement. “What he considers to be backward are the views and values of the great majority of Americans, who understand and are concerned about the grave social and ethical questions our country faces.”
Rep. Dick Armey, R.-Tex., majority leader in the House of Representatives, defended Lott. According to The New York Times, Armey told reporters, “The Bible is very clear on this. … both myself and Senator Lott believe very strongly in the Bible.”
Armey cited several verses in 1 Corinthians 6, including verses 9 and 10, which say neither “fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind” shall “inherit the kingdom of God.”
Conservative Christian leaders welcomed the comments of Lott and Armey.
“Senator Lott and Congressman Armey are absolutely correct. Scripture is as clear as it can be that homosexuality is a sin. It is clear in many references in Scripture, not the least of which is Romans chapter 1,” said Will Dodson, public policy director of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“The statements from the White House on this issue, as usual, are more concerned with political correctness than with biblical correctness. The legacy of this White House on matters of sexual mores is a disgrace. I am grateful that there are public officials who are willing to take a stand for what is right.”
The first chapter of Romans describes people who, in their rebellion against God, commit immorality with people of the same sex.
Focus on the Family President James Dobson said in a written statement, “Leaders willing to be set apart and stand solidly in the truth are rare in today’s permissive culture. It is far easier to go with the tide than willingly subject oneself to the fury of homosexual activists, the media and the political elite. We applaud their boldness in the face of great personal risk.”
The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest homosexual politicial organization, criticized Lott and Armey, adding it had asked for a meeting with both men to educate them on homosexual issues.
The White House’s defense of homosexuality as a normal lifestyle further enhances Clinton’s status as the president who has done the most to advance homosexual rights. He sought and received the support of homosexuals in both presidential election campaigns. Only days after taking office in 1993, he announced an attempt to overturn the ban on homosexuals in the military, but his effort basically was thwarted. He appointed a liaison to the homosexual community and named several open homosexuals to posts in his administration. Last November, he became the first president to speak at a homosexual rights event, when he addressed the Human Rights Campaign’s national dinner.
In late May, Clinton issued a barrier-breaking executive order adding “sexual orientation” to the list of categories, such as race, gender and age, already protected against discrimination in the federal civilian workforce. With Clinton as president the last five years, most federal agencies and departments already had instituted policies providing job protection for homosexuals. He also reiterated his support for the Employment Non-discrimination Act, legislation that would make discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” illegal in both the public and private workforce.
The SBC resolution adopted June 11 at Salt Lake City opposed attempts to “provide government endorsement, sanction, recognition, acceptance or civil rights advantage on the basis of homosexuality.” At the 1993 meeting, messengers passed a resolution distancing the SBC from Clinton’s support of abortion and homosexual rights.
When McCurry was asked at the June 16 briefing if his criticism of Lott was the “same kind of spirit” shown by Clinton’s expression of respect for different convictions on social issues, McCurry denied he was criticizing Lott’s theological view.
“This is a case in which, contrary to fact, contrary to statements of the medical community and those who are expert, the majority leader has taken an incorrect view that homosexuality is a disease,” McCurry said. “It is not. And that’s an entirely different matter. That’s not a position held as a conviction or a matter of conscience.”
Lott, however, did not refer to homosexuality as a disease during the interview, a spokesman for the television show said. Conservative black commentator Armstrong Williams interviewed Lott for telecast later on America’s Voice, a conservative cable network. The comments on homosexuality were only a small part of a 60-minute interview, the spokesman said. A complete transcript of the interview was not yet available, he said June 18.