Friday, December 19, 2008

Dispensable Constituency

How appropriate that Prickly City considers the possibility of an ardent Obama fan getting disappointed at the same time Obama's most loyal allies are let down by the President-elect, to put it mildly, over his choice of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at next month's Presidential inauguration.

In his Washington Post editorial Obama's Inaugural Mistake, Joe Solmonese speaks out.

It is difficult to comprehend how our president-elect, who has been so spot on in nearly every political move and gesture, could fail to grasp the symbolism of inviting an anti-gay theologian to deliver his inaugural invocation. And the Obama campaign's response to the anger about this decision? Hey, we're also bringing a gay marching band. You know how the gays love a parade.

Yes, the Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of the humongous, evangelical Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., has a sound message on poverty. And certainly, in the world of politics, there is a view that Barack Obama owes Warren for bringing him before fellow evangelicals, despite fierce opposition during the heat of the presidential

But here's the other thing about Warren, the author of the bestselling book "The Purpose Driven Life": He was a general in the campaign to pass California's Proposition 8, which dissolved the legal marriage rights of loving, committed same-sex couples.

For that reason, inviting Warren to set the tone at the dawn of this new presidency sends a chilling message to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. It makes us uncertain about this exciting, young president-elect who has said repeatedly that we are part of his America, too.

Solmonese also complains about Warren and the larger issue about the place of religion in determining public policy.

He told his parishioners and reporters alike that "any pastor could be considered doing hate speech if he shared his views that he didn't think homosexuality was the most natural way for relationships." But civil marriage rights for same-sex couples had nothing whatsoever to do with religion.

More recently, he even compared same-sex marriage to incest, pedophilia and polygamy. He may cloak himself in media-friendly happy talk that plays well on television, but he stands steadfastly against any measure of equality for LGBT Americans.

The LGBT community, their supporters, progressives and other fair-minded thinking individuals are upset because Obama is holding up a powerful best-selling celebrity bigot.

Then again, should we be surprised? Barack Obama was never going to be the messiah a lot of people were hoping for. Barack Obama is a politician. A politician born out of hard ball, old-style Chicago politics. Yes, he is about to become the president of all Americans and yes, he speaks inspiring words, but at the end of the day, it is about power and influence. Warren has that over Obama, gays do not. We are a minority. We are dispensable. He already got our votes.

So what are we to do? First, get over it and accept the reality that it is all about politics. Time to lower expectations. A lot. It is about power and influence. We need to continue fighting and getting our voice heard. We need to persist in reaching out, changing minds, and building coalitions. We need to play hard ball with our money and votes. We need to remind the next president that we're here, we're queer, and we ain't going nowhere until we get our civil rights.

Related Post: High Hopes, Low Expectations

1 comment:

Ana Maria said...

It is extremely unfortunate, but Obama did say on the campaign trail that he believed marriage should only be between a man and a woman. So while this extreme choice of speaker during the most significant inauguration in history is disappointing, his views on same sex marriage were out there all along, sad to say. As a straight and ardent supporter of same sex marriage, I offer my sympathy and hope that time will change attitudes as it has done for the whole concept of an African-American president.