U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a return to civility in American politics, as he spoke at a prayer breakfast in Washington.
In remarks Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast, Mr. Obama stressed the importance of being open to compromise and differing perspectives. He said it is time to learn how to "disagree without being disagreeable." The annual event brings together leading political, religious and business leaders along with diplomats and even some foreign leaders.
Mr. Obama said faith and prayer can play an important role in bridging divisions that have caused Republicans and Democrats to stop listening to one another.
Earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke of the role faith has played helping Haitians suffering from the effects of a devastating earthquake. She said people of all religious denominations have answered the call to help Haitians in need.
First lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and the Prime Minister of Spain, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, also attended.
This year the breakfast drew protests from gay rights activists and government watchdog groups concerned about the sponsors of the meeting. For five decades, the breakfast has been hosted by a secretive evangelical organization known as "The Family," which activists accuse of having ties to anti-gay legislation in Uganda.
Mr. Obama spoke about the controversy Thursday, calling the legislation in Uganda "odious." He said even for those who do not agree with homosexuality, it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians in a way that dehumanizes them.
Ugandan politician David Bahati, who activists say is a member of "The Family," recently proposed legislation that would make homosexual acts punishable by imprisonment or even death in Uganda.