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Why the Warren thing matters

by Jeremy Hooper

By now you've surely heard that Team Obama has chosen Rick Warren, a man who just this month directly compared gay couples to incestuous and paedophilic duos, to give the invocation at January's inauguration. But have you taken the time to think about it? Really processed it? Pulled it from the detached land of politics and internalized what it means for you as an LGBT person or community supporter? Well we have, and it's enraging!

For us this choice highlights how lacking in understanding even our supposed Democratic allies are when it comes to the personal nature of anti-gay actions and rhetoric.200812172033-1 For so many of our would-be, could-be, should-be supporters, gay matters are just political issues that they can think about, debate on, campaign with, and then put out of their minds when such is more expedient to their lives or careers. If they want to be seen as bridge-builders, they can earn brownie points by reaching out to those who have wronged LGBT people in one way or another. After all, why should they care? Where the hell are the majority of LGBT people gonna run off to in this two-party system that we call American government? To the party that still makes "smear the queer" part of its platform? No, not in mass numbers they won't. And since the Dem leaders know this, too many of them are too willing to sell us out too often. Principled stands be damned.

So back to Warren: Here we have a dude who campaigned fervently for Picture 31-14Proposition 8, saying many offensive things about gays being outside of God's vision for marriage. He also bore false socially conservative witness by using tired lines about CIVIL marriage equality threatening RELIGIOUS pastors' free speech. Then there are the aforementioned links to incest/polygamy/pedophilia that Pastor Warren was quite willing, even eager to affirm in a recent BeliefNet interview. And if that weren't enough, this is a theologian who cites "tone" as the only difference between himself and Dr. James Dobson. For those of us who live, breathe, laugh, and love within LGBT bodies and souls, these sorts of things are not simple points on partisan politic playing field. For us, these are targeted bits of bigotry that cut us to the core! They are they cruel ideas that rob us of sleep. They are the dangerous teachings that keep gay kids scared, depressed, and vulnerable. They are daggers that wound us in ways we could never fully put into words. But yet out of all the religious folks he could have embraced, Barack Obama, a candidate who filled so many of us with hope, has chosen this man to send forth word on his life's most important day?

Now, Team Obama will surely rationalize away the Warren choice by using lots of flowery prose about team-building and speaking to communities that don't agree with us. Which is all fine and good. We agree that we have to start having more difficult conversations in this country, with folks from drastically varying backgrounds and viewpoints coming to the table to sort out their disagreements. But there is a difference in (a) bringing a representative of anti-gay politicking to the table to hash things out and (b) bringing a representative of anti-gay politicking to a prized soiree so that he can lead America in prayer! For those Americans who were THRILLED with Obama's victory yet put into AN UNSHAKABLE FUNK by Prop 8's unreasoned passage, this is a major affront. Not a political slap, either. A hard and painful soul smack!

Horrific move, Obama.

**UPDATE: Obama spokesperson Linda Douglass has issued a predictable response:

"The president-elect certainly disagrees with him on [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] issues,"..."But it has always been his goal to find common ground with people with whom you may disagree on some issues."
Obama's inaugural choice sparks outrage [CNN]

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Your thoughts

I will say I have been wondering just what they will say if/when one of their daughters, or godchildren announce she/he is gay.

Posted by: LOrion | Dec 17, 2008 11:13:55 PM

With today's demographics, no American president - Republican or Democrat - will seriously support gays. Every president will throw gays under the bus as soon as it is politically expedient for them to do so.

20 years hence, once the older generation dies off, yes - a president *will* support gay rights, but only because it will be politically expedient to do so.

November 4th was by no means a victory for us. Yes, we elected a president whose campaign had a certain "no I don't support gay marriage - wink, wink, nudge nudge" tone, but I remember Bill Clinton as an affable, friendly, pro-gay, Democrat person. I also remember an affable, friendly, pro-gay Democrat president who enacted Don't Ask, Don't Tell and DOMA. And he did so because it was politcally expedient to do so at the time. I believe that he didn't want to sign those bills; but the essence of politics is negotiation, and the fact is that other business is more pressing than our rights.

I think that since then, the gay community forgave the Democratic party a little easily for those laws - after eight years of Bush and the prospect of a future under Sarah Palin, I get why.

But, while they are more supportive of gay rights, Democrats are not the grand ally of the gays. I fear this may be just the first let-down Obama has in store for us. Please, Mr. Obama - prove me wrong. I literally *beg* you to prove me wrong. And no, a marching band in your parade isn't enough.

Posted by: DN | Dec 18, 2008 1:19:47 AM

In what world is punching a group of allies in the stomach, in order to explore "common ground" with bigots, ever acceptable. I could almost understand it if the ultra-right wing fundies might ever let up on him as a result of the extended olive branch, but let's face it, that's NEVER going to happen.

On the other hand, in my mind, it's perfectly alright for the fundies to have their religiosity wedge of the pie. It's perfectly meaningless, and it isn't like anyone else wants it. And it certainly doesn't mean that they have any sway in the administration. But it does fry my ass that they chose one of the most belligerent of the crowd. And, I know that we're supposed to be bigger than that; that we have truth and justice and even righteousness on our side; that we will win.. eventually. But it feels like a backhanded slap in the face. And that's pretty hard to ignore.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Dec 18, 2008 1:29:38 AM

UGH. Rick "Dobson-lite" Warren makes my brain cramp.

Posted by: EvilPoet | Dec 18, 2008 4:02:45 AM

I have something important to say that has been deeply overlooked in this debacle. Barack chose Pastor Lowry to give the closing prayer (the last word) and Pastor Lowry is deeply supportive of the GLBT community and very supportive of same sex marriage.

We need to think about this as well.


Posted by: Benjamin | Dec 18, 2008 4:46:20 AM

God damn it, I want to like Obama so much, but this makes it difficult! If Obama can agree with Warren on religion and overlook his GLBT stance, all that says is religion trumps queer rights--again. GLBT issues are the ones that are back-burnered, brushed aside, and we're the ones told to be more tolerant of some of the most intolerant and stubborn people around.

Maybe it's all a big setup? Like Warren will walk up on stage and fall through the floor into a nest of bees or something? And Obama will tip us a wink and everything will be okay? Yes we can?

Posted by: L.A. Fields | Dec 18, 2008 5:34:42 AM

It really is disheartening. I was so moved to be included in Obama's acceptance speech. The fact he mentioned the gay community gave me hope. I realize not every choice made will please every audience. It couldn't possibly. However, it seems to me there is another choice - one that would not alienate a community so ready to rally behind the President. One that perhaps might not help our cause - but one that's not invested in hurting it. I keep hearing about how the glbt community needs to understand there are bigger fish to fry on the national stage. I agree and disagree. Sure, there are some big issues - the war, the economy, etc. But I dare say the glbt issue will never ever get top billing if we don't encourage it to. Something will always trump it because we are in the minority. It's tough, but it's getting better. I believe it will continue to. Here's hoping we truly elected a President who cares enough to help us get there.

Posted by: Heather | Dec 18, 2008 7:19:19 AM

LOTS at PHB about this too...but just FYI: Pam Spaulding: I will be on Glenn Greenwald's podcast tomorrow AM to talk about this travesty.

Please use all of BoxT's email addresses:
Update: Are you looking for someone to email to express your outrage? Well, a well-placed source just provided these email addresses:
[email protected] (Parag Mehta is Obama’s LGBT liaison in the transition team.)
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected] (Steve Hildebrand)
[email protected]
You can also contact Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office. She chaired the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and made the announcement.

AND IN ADDITION: I propose a small change to Join the Impact's pre Thanksgiving Card a Thon to OBAMA. Let's all write and tell him just how much Thanks we feel from Him.

UPDATE: This must be working. Obama's transition office has stopped accepting postcards. They ask for #10 envelopes only. We won't go away that easily. Put your postcard in a #10 envelope and send it anyway. Let's keep this going until the new year.

Our friends at LGBTQ Civil Rights Front have come up with a brilliant way for us to ensure that LGBTQ issues aren't forgotten as President-elect Obama makes his transition into the White House.

Their idea: buy a postcard from your home town, include a handwritten message, and mail it to Obama's Presidential Transition Office.

Put your postcard in a #10 envelope and mail it to...

President-elect Barack Obama
Presidential Transition Office
Kluczynski Federal Building
230 S. Dearborn St., 38th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604

Keep up the momentum! Get the suggested message and transition office mailing address here. Then post a photo of you and your card here!

Posted by: LOrion | Dec 18, 2008 7:19:20 AM

Are there seriously no religious figures left in this country who aren't hateful bigots that he could've picked? What campaign genius made that choice?

Posted by: Baldran | Dec 18, 2008 7:20:22 AM

Benjamin: Lowery hasn't been overlooked. Many of us are quite happy that he's on the bill. But it shouldn't have to be an anti-gay/pro-gay counterbalance.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Dec 18, 2008 7:23:35 AM

"find common ground with people with whom you may disagree"

So does this mean we'll be seeing a representative of the KKK speaking at the inauguration too? The Klan hates gays too. I think that would qualify as "common ground".

Posted by: dave31175 | Dec 18, 2008 9:35:34 AM

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