NASHVILLE, Tenn. Conservative Christians are upset over comments made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a State Department ceremony to install Mark Dybul, an open homosexual, as the nation's new global AIDS coordinator.
With first lady Laura Bush standing with her Oct. 10, Rice welcomed Dybul's family which she introduced as his "partner," Jason Claire, and his "mother-in-law," Claire's mother. As Dybul was sworn in, Claire held the Bible.
Several conservatives spoke against the appointment of a homosexual man to an ambassador-level role of stopping the spread of AIDS, and many objected to the "mother-in-law" reference.
"That's astonishing that that fact would be underscored, highlighted by the Secretary of State," Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family Action said. "This is very provocative and very disappointing."
Rice's chief of staff called to tell Minnery it was a mix-up and someone was supposed to check on the mother-in-law status but didn't.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, doesn't believe it was a mistake because "the U.S. State Department is in the business of diplomacy and avoiding faux pas." He added in his Oct. 16 Washington Update e-mail that in the "world of protocol, verbal miscues are anathema."
"The question arises, what guidelines do the State Department and the White House follow? Neither federal law (the Defense of Marriage Act) nor District of Columbia law recognizes a marriage between Mr. Dybul and his partner," Perkins said, adding that Rice's comment was both "morally provocative" and "linguistically improper."
Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at FRC, said Rice's comments were "profoundly offensive," especially considering the Bush administration's support of a federal marriage amendment to protect traditional marriage. He also objected to having a homosexual implement Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief."We have to face the fact that putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the hen house," Sprigg said.... If we are not willing to say that men should not engage in sex with other men, then we are really not willing to tackle the root causes of the AIDS problem."