But what is with the President-Elect's decision to invite Rick Warren to speak/give the invocation at the Inauguration?! I've spoken with a good number of people about this today, and while I see some of the calculation that likely went into this decision, and even some of the potential payoffs for Obama, I'm left scratching my head. What happened to the principled man we heard so much about in the run-up to election day?
Now in the interest of full disclosure I'll reveal a few things: I initially (and quite fervently) supported Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination. After much soul-searching and a much-needed catharsis I supported and voted for Senator Obama. While I realize identity politics is a murky bog to wade in to, I think it's clear in today's political climate that identity politics plays a role (whether we like it or not) in governing, elections, and politics.
Apparently I wasn't alone. Approximately 73% of LGBT Americans supported Senator Obama and his pledge of support for equality issues. We raised and donated money, called our friends and neighbors, canvassed, and rallied just like every other community supporting Senator Obama. Unlike many other majority Democratic constituencies, GLBT Americans are not being quite as insistent for Cabinet representation and other concessions. We'd be happy to be certain we can't be fired from our jobs for being gay (though a Presidential appointment here or there would be nice).
I'll admit, I really liked that in many of his major speeches, including his election night speech, Obama mentioned gays and lesbians and promised to be inclusive and sensitive to the needs of this oft-neglected community. Even if he doesn't support full marriage equality, at least he has pledged to work on the military policies, workplace discrimination, and hate crimes that so greatly effect us. But beyond lip-service, the new president must be ready to actually put his neck on the line and be that change he so often speaks about. Will it be popular? Not with everyone, but often the most ingrained injustices are the hardest to make this country face. As the first African-American president I'm sure he's experience that first-hand. But after all the effort we as a community put into his election, the supposed avatar of new politics is ignoring all our work and giving one of our greatest detractors a very prominent victory. How sobering.
I completely support reaching across the aisle, speaking to those who disagree with us, and seeking a common understanding to accomplish the many things Americans will need from our 44th President. But there is a time and place for that. Whatever happened to 'dancing with the one who brung ya'? Or 'to the victor goes the spoils'? Using this time and this place to let a man who has called for a veritable jihad on the marriage equality movement and helped to pass Prop 8 in California is dastardly. Meet with him. Talk with him. Find a middle ground on the issues you can work together on. But granting him this grand pulpit emblazoned with the Seal of the President is simply reprehensible.
I'm sure Rev. Warren has given a sermon or two about turning the other cheek when one has been wronged - but how many more times must the GLBT community be slapped in the face?
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