Mr. President, It's Time to Be a "Fierce Advocate" for Gay Ugandans

Dear Mr. President,

I know that your plate is quite full right now and you are dealing with many issues: two wars, the economy, unemployment, health care, and climate change. I have to add one more to the list: human rights.

I have read and heard excerpts of the speech you made in acceptance of your Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway and found it to be quite inspiring as have many of your harshest critics. The address was humble, uplifting, and pragmatic.

I would like to quote some of your Oslo statements to request action from you to back up your words. As you probably know, Uganda is about to pass an anti-gay bill that could result in the execution of many homosexuals. You echoed former President George W. Bush in your Norway speech when you said that "evil does exist in the world." I can't think of anything more evil that killing a person just because they are gay.

I am asking you to speak out against this atrocious bill. I know it is not your style to intrude on the politics of other nations (Iran's election, for example). But as the leader of the Free World and a descendant of a Kenyan father, you have much influence on the African continent.

In your speech you recalled the advance of Hitler's armies to argue that "sometimes, only force can resolve injustice and protect civilian lives." I'm not saying force is necessary here, but perhaps if more world leaders had spoken out when Hitler began exterminating the Jews, the Holocaust and WWII could have been prevented or ended earlier.

You also stated in your address: "In some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nation's development..." This human rights issue is global. When one gay person is executed anywhere in the world, we all suffer the loss of life. If we don't speak out, we are condoning the action.

During the campaign, you are quoted as saying you will be a "fierce advocate" for gay rights. You have signed into law hate crime legislation, appointed openly gay people to your administration, and continue to work on repealing the military's discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. But this Ugandan issue requires urgency and is important for the rights of all gays worldwide.

Lives are at stake. As a country we can once again become a world leader of human rights. Even your anti-gay Inaugural Invocation Preacher, Rick Warren has come out against this bill, hopefully not too belatedly. Our American Christian leaders have sent mixed messages to Uganda for years, preaching that homosexuality is a sin that causes AIDS and falsely accusing gays of being child molesters. Is this not an intrusion on another's culture, perhaps even facilitating the passage of this hateful legislation?

We need you to set the record straight and be true to the principles that you adhere to. I was moved to tears by the speech you gave to the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, DC in October of 2009. I believed every word you said about being with us and supporting our cause. This is your chance to prove to the world that you are a "Fierce Advocate" for human rights wherever and whenever abuses occur. If anyone can make a difference, it is you and then we must all let our voices be heard to oppose this reprehensible oppression.