For all those kossacks who think the GBLT community is having a "hissy fit," I'm going to take shot at explaining why some of us are upset.
First of all, I'm a gay man and I gave Obama more money than I've given any candidate. More importantly I worked hard on the ground for him. I campaigned in three states (NY, PA & FL). In the weeks before the election, I took two weeks of vacation to work on his GOTV campaign in Florida. Kos's words rang in my ears those weeks, "leave it all on the road." I was exhausted and elated when he won.
And my initial, visceral reaction to the news of Rick Warren's great moment of honor, was to feel sick to my stomach. Didn't we beat Sarah Palin? I was shocked, bewildered. I thought we were done with the Christian Taliban calling the shots?
I've heard many people describe Obama's endorsement of Warren as a "reaching out." Newsflash people, "we" won! We aren't obliged to reach out to the far-right, they are obliged to reach out to us. Do you apologists all have Stockholm Syndrome? Is this the change we asked for?
Let's see: the far-right gets their way, the left hands it to them on a silver platter and both side agree to call it a compromise. This is feeling very, very familiar and not like much of a change at all. Did Bush pick a progressive minister to deliver his invocation to heal that ugly divide in 2000? Did he "compromise?" Has any conservative?
And let's also be clear, Obama is not "engaging" the far-right. This is not an "engagement;" it is a great honor. He's giving Rick Warren a grand platform and an international audience. He is endorsing Rick Warren, and make no mistake, Warren's particular flavor of Christianity with all the legitimacy and prestige of the office of the President of the United States. (Remember all that fuss about legitimizing Iranian dictators with Presidential attention? No?)
I've been really hard on Christians, Mormons in particular. And I assert that my ire is well-founded. But I've seen many, many responses to my posts that "Not all Christians are like that." Well, folks if there's any truth to that statement at all, don't you think right now is a excellent time to trot out that (mythical?) progressive, pro-choice, gay-friendly preacher? Come out, come out where ever you are! Because, apparently Obama, like George Bush before him, has a little trouble working the hotjobs.com.
Less than two weeks ago, just miles from my home, a man was beaten with a baseball bat, his blood splattered all over the sidewalk, his skull cracked open. He died several days later. His attackers screamed "fag!" at him as they beat the life out of him. In reality, he wasn't gay, he was drunkenly leaning on his brother. But that's what standing too close to a same-gender person can get you in this world, a baseball bat to the head. I know because I've been there too. Ask the "gay friends" you reference, I bet they have been too.
Why does this happen? Because of people like Rick Warren. You see, it's ok to treat gay people that way, because, after all, as Rick Warren has said so many times, we're on par with pedophiles and child molesters. We are sinful and an abomination (you know, like shellfish). Rick and his ilk remind people all the time that not even God himself will have us. He'll send us to Hell to suffer for eternity. So, why should any ordinary man care a wit about us, if the Almighty himself does not?
Fool me once
I was ambivalent about Obama in the primaries. Some may have missed it, but we've actually been to this place before, which might explain some my supposed "overreaction." Obama picked a rabidly homophobic preacher (Donnie McClurkin) to campaign for him and win Christian evangelical votes in the lower eastern seaboard. And many gays were mad. And Obama handled the situation very poorly. He apparently was unable to navigate a way to court the evangelicals, without creating an affront to the GBLT community. How this fits into "bringing folks together," I'm unclear. Again, it's the left doing all the bending to make it work.
But, as he won the primary, I tried, and did, find a place of forgiveness. I told myself it was just a bungle, a miscalculation, maybe the result of electoral naivete.
But now, I'm feeling like I was the naive one. Earlier I said, "We won," at least I thought "we" won. But maybe "we" the gays, aren't really part of that "we" at all.
Because, you see we're still playing footsie with the Theocrats, and Obama is wooing them as Bush did with "faith-based initiative funding." And it seems the concerns of the gay community are as irrelevant as they've ever been. So forgive me if I say it doesn't feel like much of a "win," or a change.
I have, alas, reached a point of profound disillusionment. I wonder, of all the preachers in the country, of all the ministers, why this one man? Why Rick Warren? Another miscalculation? A mistake? A tone-deafness? Nothing in Obama's election performance suggests he has that in him. No, I've seen a calculating, deliberate and thoughtful man, one not prone to making the same mistake twice. That was, in fact, what won me over.
Book of Numbers
So why Rick? Of all the preachers? Is it possible that he offers what so many men of the cloth offer: redemption. Can his blessing, wash away all those ugly accusations of "terrorist," "muslim," and even "anti-Christ?" By picking one of their will Obama be absolved in the eyes of the Religious Right, to the Sarah Palin fan club members, no matter how painful of a slap in the face it is to supporters like me? And Obama's faith is important to him.
Or maybe, it's just math? Is this another cold-calculation? The fundies outnumber the gays, it's not a fact I can argue. His math is sound, I'm sure. Numbers-wise, it's better to have the Jesus freaks covering your back than a group of folks, that--let's face it--we're just getting around to "tolerating." The numbers will be on his side, even if history won't.
But I have a number for Barack Obama: 6,000,000. That's the estimated number of GBLT votes he collected in the election. And we better see some kick-ass legislation coming down the pike. I want to see him deliver on his pledges to repeal Defense of Marriage and Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and pass Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Federal Civll Unions. And let's add passing the Uniting American Families Act to the list, too, if he's serious about delivering equal rights for gays.
And he'll make it happen, if wants us to open up our wallets and put our boots on the ground again for him again in 2012. We don't have to vote Republican. But we can sit it out. When you're disenfranchised, you have nothing to lose by opting out of the system. I survived Reagan, I survived two Bushes. I can survive another Republican President if I must.
Email Parag Mehta, Obama's LGBT liaison on the transition team at email@example.com to express your concern.
Update: Thanks for putting me on the rec list. I'm glad I was able to provide a little balance and hopefully some food for thought. And I greatly appreciate that many, many people here are not onboard with the dismissive, derisive and ridiculing posts and diaries that are currently on this site. Their tone is dismaying, and frankly, very hurtful to me and I'm sure many others. My god, even FOX think this pick was stupid!
Surprising finding from my poll, at noon, 96 of heterosexuals say they've been gay bashed too. Wow. Sad. I didn't think it would be that high. My condolences to everyone who's been a victim of this violence.
And for the record, Obama has confirmed Warren was indeed his, not the committee's pick.
Someone made me a Digg Link, which I appreciate.
Update 3: Removed update 2, because, I was inclined to agree with a poster that it was kind of a cheap shot.