by David Martin
The prayer rally that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is leading in Houston on Saturday is looking more like a cautionary tale than a great awakening. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, the one governor who planned to attend the arena-sized day of fasting and prayer, now appears to be waffling in his commitment to the event -- perhaps out of recognition that it's creepy with homophobes.
One of the sponsors of "the Response" is the American Family Association, an organization whose views are so obnoxious that it's listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association's director of issue analysis for government and public policy, has stated that homosexuality "gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews." Fischer's Holocaust origin story is hardly the only stupid idea that has been promoted by the ministers who have attached themselves to the Response. One of the preachers who's an official "endorser" of the event attributed a rash of bird deaths in Arkansas to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In fact, the public face of the Response is so freakish that even Perry seems to want to keep a distance. A few weeks ago, a spokesman for the American Family Association intimated that Perry may not speak on Saturday. Now we learn that Brownback, too, appears to having second thoughts about attending a prayer rally that might make the 1992 Republican National Convention seem tame. From the Lawrence Journal-World:
In June, Brownback's office said the Republican governor had accepted an invitation from Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also a Republican and possible presidential candidate, to attend the event which is being dubbed "a call to prayer for a nation in crisis." Brownback's office said he would be going at his own expense. Since then, however, Brownback's office has been quiet on the subject. In recent days, the governor's office would not confirm his plans, only to say that Brownback would be on vacation during that time.The Journal-World story featured the comments of Thomas Witt, the chairman of the Kansas Equality Coalition, a gay rights group. Witt is appalled that Brownback is still a soft "yes" to attend the Response. "These aren't groups who just don't want gays to get married," Witt told the paper. "... [T]his is about showing support for organizations that would rather see us dead."