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Governors attending ‘The Response’ prayer in Houston: Party of One?

Image by: Matt Mahurin
Image by: Matt Mahurin

Amid outrage in his home state, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback appears to be skipping out on the upcoming controversial all-day prayer event hosted by Gov. Rick Perry and the American Family Association.

While Perry invited all 49 other governors to attend the Houston rally, Brownback stood as the only state leader who accepted the invite. The Lawrence Journal-World reports that since June, Brownback’s office, “has been quiet on the subject,” and would not confirm his plans, saying only that the governor would be on vacation when the event takes place this weekend.

Brownback’s decision to attend the prayer rally — hosted by AFA, classified an “anti-gay” hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — caused a stir among LBGT rights groups in Kansas, the Texas Independent previously reported.

Last month, Kansas Equality Coalition Chairman Thomas Witt told the Independent activists protested Brownback’s acceptance to attend the event outside the state house, calling on their governor to cancel his plans. Witt said in light of AFA’s extremist anti-gay position it was highly inappropriate for Brownback to attend the gathering while his failure to respond to the activist’s request was “incredibly disturbing.”

AFA president Tim Wildmon has called homosexual behavior “immoral, unnatural and unhealthy,” while Bryan Fischer, the group’s director of policy analysis, has compared the “risks” and “dangers” of homosexuality to drug use, and said Nazism began as a movement of “homosexual thugs.” AFA is noted for leading boycotts against companies who support LGBT rights, and for petitioning against openly gay political candidates.

Aides representing other governors, including Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, have told the Texas Independent they cannot attend due to scheduling conflicts.

To date, Florida Gov. Rick Scott may be the only governor besides Perry to show up at the rally, and even he will not be there in person.

Scott plans to get involved from afar — delivering a two to three minute videotaped message, the Palm Beach Post and Dallas Morning News Trail Blazers Blog recently reported.

Opposition in Texas continues to intensify, with counter protests already forming. The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State are hosting an alternate rally on Friday, the day before the event.

Speakers include Rev. William Lawson, founding Pastor of the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church; Rev. Barry Lynn, the AU’s executive director; Mini Timmaraju, president of the Indo-American Political Action Committee for Greater Houston and representatives from the Muslim and Jewish communities.

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