The Adoption Crunch, the Christian Right, and the Challenge to Indian Sovereignty

While the demand for adoptable babies is increasing in the United States—driven in large part by evangelical Christians—the number of babies available for adoption is declining. Adoption agencies are now targeting tribal nations as a potential new source of babies to adopt, and forming alliances that threaten to undermine the sovereignty of Native American nations.

photo credit: The Post and Courier

photo credit: The Post and Courier

**This article appears in the Winter 2014 issue of The Public Eye magazine.**

On September 23, 2013, a child-custody battle that was nearly five years in the making came to its conclusion in Oklahoma when an Army veteran from the Cherokee Nation, Dusten Brown, handed over his daughter, Veronica, to Matt and Melanie Capobianco, a White couple from South Carolina who had raised her for the first two years of her life.1

Brown gained custody of four-year-old Veronica in December 2011, after a South Carolina court ruled that the adoption process had violated federal Indian law. Brown’s attorneys also argued that Christina Maldonado—Brown’s ex-fiancé and Veronica’s biological mother, who is Latina—had deliberately concealed plans to let the Capobiancos adopt her.2  As the custody decision was reversed following a 2013 Supreme Court ruling,3 and Veronica was tucked into the Capobiancos’ car to return to South Carolina, the scene was broadcast across national and social media to two polarized camps.  Read More

The Culture Wars Come to Zambia

Intercepting the International Human Rights Agenda

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with Zambian first President Kenneth Kaunda on February 25, 2012 in Lusaka, Zambia. During the visit, Ban urged African countries to respect gay rights. Joseph Mwenda/AFP/Getty Images

On a visit to Zambia in February 2012, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on African countries to stop treating LGBT people as less than human or as second class citizens. He explicitly asked Zambian lawmakers to stop discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation.

Zambia had just emerged from a heated election where politicians promoting anti-LGBT laws were defeated at the polls. But Ban’s words backfired and the speech fanned the anti-gay embers back into flame. Politicians and religious leaders rose up with anti-gay invective. The U.S. Christian Right-trained pastor and opposition leader Nevers Mumba challenged the newly elected Patriotic Front government to make clear its position on homosexuality. Member of Parliament Felix Mutati argued in the Lusaka Times that “the country must be allowed to be guided by biblical principles and the existing law against homosexuality…. Zambia is a Christian nation and Christianity is against homosexuality.” Elias Chipimo, Jr., the president of Zambia’s National Restoration Party, blamed Western countries and called on them to stop promoting homosexuality. “The insistence of foreign nations donating aid conditioned upon the active promotion of gay rights is nothing other than the battle for the soul of our nation and our way of life,” he said.1

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Lively’s Lies: A Profile of Scott Lively

Scott Lively.

The Uganda Speech

In March 2009, Scott Lively traveled more than 8,000 miles from his home in Springfield, Massachusetts, to talk to a small audience at the Triangle Hotel in Kampala, Uganda, about homosexuality. “My name is Scott Lively,” he began. “I’m married. I have four children. I am 51 years old, and I have been studying this issue for twenty years, and I want to tell you why I’m doing that.”[i]

Presenting his educational background, he explained that he is both a pastor who has studied scripture and an attorney “trained in secular reasoning.” He graduated magna cum laude with a doctorate from Trinity Law School in Santa Anna, California, and has a doctor of theology from the Pentecostal Assemblies of God.

In addition, he said, he holds “a certificate in human rights from the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.” “I stand before you a world traveler, having spoken on this topic in almost forty countries,” he said. “I’ve written several books.”

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Who’s Colonialist?

African Anti-Gay Politics In The Global Discourse

Uganda’s Rolling Stone newspaper printed photos and personal information about what it called “Top Homos.” Subheadings read, “We Shall Recruit 1,000,000 Innocent Kids by 2012,” and, “Parents Now Face Heart-Breaks as Homos Raid Schools.” Photo Credit: AP/© AP

In August 2010, more than 400 African Anglican Bishops gathered in Entebbe, Uganda, for their second All-Africa Bishops Conference, which attracted global media attention because of the debates on LGBT rights. Bishops from Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya used the conference as an opportunity to speak out in favor of criminalizing homosexuality. Their anti-gay statements gave new life to Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would mandate the imprisoning and in some cases the execution of homosexuals. The bill was introduced into the Ugandan Parliament in 2009 after a seminar in March of that year in Kampala called Exposing the Homosexual Agenda, led by U.S. religious conservatives such as Scott Lively, a Holocaust revisionist who argues that LGBT-rights movements are inherently fascistic, and Don Schmierer, the director of the Exodus Institute, which claims to convert lesbians and gay men to heterosexuality. Henry Orombi, a friend of Rick Warren, the well-known pastor of the Saddleback megachurch in Orange County, California, is reported to have told the conference, “Homosexuality is evil, abnormal, and unnatural as per the Bible. It is a culturally unacceptable practice. Although there is a lot of pressure [from the West], we cannot turn our hands to support it.”1 Nevertheless, two African provinces, or districts, at the conference distanced themselves from such attacks: the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and the Church of the Province of Central Africa. They issued a counterstatement saying, “The majority of the provinces at this conference are being ambushed by an agenda that is contrary to the beliefs and practices of our various provinces.”2 Downplaying the counterstatement, the Ugandan media, which often presents Africans as united in their denunciation of LGBT people, predicted that the bishops’ voices would help pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.3

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