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  • « How to lose friends and influence | Main | Bah-humbug from George Bush »

    December 23, 2008

    Watch the Warren bait and switch

    Posted by: Chris

    Solmonesebaldwinfrank A lot of the anger over Barack Obama's selection of Rick Warren to say a prayer at the inuauguration springs from genuine (if misplaced) resentment over the mega-church pastor's previous pronouncements on marriage, mixed with a disturbing streak of P.C. intolerance that runs through the gay rights movement and liberals generally.

    Part of it is lingering distrust of Obama by gay Hillary supporters, who still revel in the chance to stick it to him, as they did on the (similar and analogous) Donnie McClurkin flap. Another part is from Clinton-haters, who are already bracing themselves for Obama to "throw gays under the bus" the way Bill Clinton did on gays in the military (1993) and the Defense of Marriage Act (1996).

    And then there are the "leaders" of the gay movement, who absolutely love this kind of controversy for an entirely different reason: the gay and gay-friendly masses are exorcised and primed for fund-raising, successfully distracted from the indefensible lack of progress, even backsliding, on the actual push for legal equality. You know who I'm talking about, people, so let's just get to the quote (from Politico.com):

    The rapid, angry reaction from a range of gay activists comes as the gay rights movement looks for an opportunity to flex its political muscle. Last summer gay groups complained, but were rebuffed by Obama, when an “ex-gay” singer led Obama’s rallies in South Carolina. And many were shocked last month when voters approved the California ban.

    “There is a lot of energy and there’s a lot of anger and I think people are wanting to direct it somewhere,” [Joe] Solmonese [of the Human Rights Campaign] told Politico.

    B-I-N-G-O and BINGO was his name-o! A nice juicy controversy with absolutely nothing of consequence at stake, and all those angry gays upset by the humiliating defeat of gay marriage rights in California, Arizona and Florida are distracted from further inquiry into why we lost, or whether there is anything that Democrat-controlled Washington can do anything about it.

    Look at this shiny Rick Warren bauble, gay people! Pay no attention behind that curtain to the deal Joe Solmonese, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin and others have cut to give you only hate crime and ENDA crumbs until after the mid-term elections! (And by then, of course, the excuse will be that controversial issues like Don't Ask Don't Tell and relationship recognition must wait for Obama's re-election.)

    Remember Solmonese's "very frank" letter -- we know it's "very frank" because HRC said it was -- to the president-elect calling the Warren invitation "a genuine blow to LGBT Americans"? Does anyone remember HRC sending such a very frank letter when congressional Democrats failed to pass even the most benign form of gay rights legislation? (No, actually, HRC thanked them for giving it the ol' college try -- for the 12th consecutive year.)

    (And why can't the cynic in me shake the notion that Obama's real transition sin was failing to hire more Beltway gays to high White House and cabinet posts? Hillary surely would have emptied out HRC with cushy bureaucratic jobs.)

    GeoffreykorsOn the other side of the country, another gay leader in the hot seat is also trying his hand at the Warren bait and switch. Geoff Kors, the Equality California leader under heavy fire for the horribly mismanaged and poorly strategized No on 8 effort. You think he's gonna miss out on this chance to point the heat in another -- any other -- direction?:

    The head of California’s largest gay civil rights organization has declined an invitation to attend the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama because Rev. Rick Warren will deliver the invocation.

    It is extremely disappointing and hurtful that President-elect Obama has chosen California Rev. Rick Warren, who actively supported Prop 8 and the elimination of existing civil rights for LGBT Californians, to give the invocation at his inauguration,” said Equality California executive director Geoff Kors in a statement.

    “Accordingly, I have decided to decline the invitation to attend the inauguration as I cannot be part of a celebration that highlights and gives voice to someone who advocated repealing rights from me and millions of other Californians.”

    The EQCA home page devotes its premium space to Kors' silly refusal to attend the inauguration, which makes about as much political sense as his silly refusal to meaningfully debate Prop 8. Does he really think we can boycott and refuse to debate our way to equality? He needs to watch "Milk" again.

    There's still time to make lemonade from these lemons. If the uproar over Rick Warren has the Obama folks anxious to mollify the gays, then let's ask for something real -- not simply long-promised hate crime and employment non-discrimination legislation. Something real -- like administration support for pushing a federal civil unions bill.

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    Comments

    1. Lucrece on Dec 23, 2008 3:06:48 PM:

      Speaking of self-interest, why did I have the strong suspicion that a quick solution to having your lover and yourself be able to move to the US would sneak into the end of this post, hmmm?

    1. Patrick on Dec 23, 2008 3:59:47 PM:

      Damn those liberal gay leaders and all those gay sheep parroting everything they point out. We silly gay plebeians can't do nothin' right. Why don't we understand that all of our collective anger is just cynical political maneuvering. I mean, come on, we common bitter gay folk couldn't just be fed up. That's too sophisticated for us, right? We gay peasants don't have genuine human reactions and emotions. Everybody knows we're just pawns in the ugly game of PC Intolerance. When will we ever learn? But I'm confused, I like both Hillary and Obama. I also find it useful to make a loud stink about the Rick Warren pick. Please, someone smarter than me, tell me how I'm supposed to feel.

    1. the troll on Dec 23, 2008 5:01:32 PM:

      Well Chris, I am not sure that your partner is the type of person that we want to immigrate into this country, so I am going to have to say no, you can't have him here. You must stay in Rio, that place you fell in love within the instant you laid eyes on it. Ahhhh Rio, that lovely city with neighborhoods as large as small cities that are so violent that police dare not enter.

    1. Scott on Dec 23, 2008 7:55:57 PM:

      Rick Warren is a bigot. He helped take away gay couples CONSTITUTION RIGHT to marriage. He has made many hateful comments about gay people like we shouldn't have rights and that we should "convert" to heterosexuality.

    1. Chuck on Dec 24, 2008 3:12:11 AM:

      OMG. I did a Google on Rio. I had no idea that it was the most violent city in the world. Lots of scary videos on Google if anyone wants to check them out.

    1. Kris on Dec 24, 2008 10:12:12 AM:

      Obama should be ashamed of himself, disappointing his obsessed Obama LGBT supporters. Lies and deception. I think there is probably more to the Senate seat in Ill too, bring on the investigations and impeachment hearings!!!!
      New bumper sticker "O" NO!, The President

    1. James on Dec 24, 2008 12:28:28 PM:

      The in-fighting between various GLBT groups is interesting. There is no "one" strategy that has appeared yet that makes enough sense to me. Am I suppose to STFU or am I suppose to become militant; should I see Obama's pick of Warren as tactical or in opposition to our causes? Should I blame Christian African-Americans for passing Prop 8 or should I blame the pro-organizers?

      There are simply too many splinter groups vying for the right to tell me the "correct" way I should react to the defeat of Prop 8 and Obama's choice of Warren. My "middle-of-the-road" tendencies tell me this is the wrong approach this time. There should be protests, there should be boycotts, there should be millions of letters and e-mails to gov.change and to Congress. How about a Million-Gay March in Washington on the 100th day of the administration? All this bandying about on blogs is getting us some attention, but, in accordance with MLK, the moderate voices of the Civil Rights were an impediment to the cause.

      Separate is not equal. And I live in a state where "marriage" is legal. Just not under Federal law.

    1. James on Dec 24, 2008 12:29:55 PM:

      The in-fighting between various GLBT groups is interesting. There is no "one" strategy that has appeared yet that makes enough sense to me. Am I suppose to STFU or am I suppose to become militant; should I see Obama's pick of Warren as tactical or in opposition to our causes? Should I blame Christian African-Americans for passing Prop 8 or should I blame the pro-organizers?

      There are simply too many splinter groups vying for the right to tell me the "correct" way I should react to the defeat of Prop 8 and Obama's choice of Warren. My "middle-of-the-road" tendencies tell me this is the wrong approach this time. There should be protests, there should be boycotts, there should be millions of letters and e-mails to gov.change and to Congress. How about a Million-Gay March in Washington on the 100th day of the administration? All this bandying about on blogs is getting us some attention, but, in accordance with MLK, the moderate voices of the Civil Rights were an impediment to the cause.

      Separate is not equal. And I live in a state where "marriage" is legal. Just not under Federal law.

    1. Chuck on Dec 24, 2008 1:38:20 PM:

      I am with you, James. Like you, I am sick and tired of being told how I should be, how I should look, how I should act and how I should behave. We already have the religious right telling us all of the above. Why do we have to tolerate being told the very same thing by splinter groups within our own ranks?

      Step aside. I have letters to write. Telegrams to send. Postcards to mail, protests to attend and parades to march in.

      And if anyone does not like that, well...tough titty!

    1. Mike on Dec 24, 2008 4:36:31 PM:

      Funny, this non-heterosexual thinks the entire Warren kurfuffle is beyond stupid. Those railing against Obama and this nontreversy certainly don't speak for this non-straight man and my family. As an out and proud gay man who has given till it hurts to gay rights, I think the pettiness shown in the Warren outrage is absurd.

      To be clear, I am 100% adamant for equal rights regardless of sexual orientation and gender. It is about my family.

      But the misplaced rage at the superfluous about this entire "issue", when we have real issues facing us GLBT people is viewed by more than a few of us as absurd.

      The problems I have about those so incensed by this are several fold.

      First, the assertion by many of my fellow progressives on the left is that this "confers acceptability" of Warren's views on such matters as abortion and equality for non-heterosexuals is nonsense. Any smart progressive should know better than that. This is not much better than saying because Obama served on an education board with Ayres that means he legitimizes the tactics and position of the Weather Underground.

      Second, if anything, giving this courtesy to Warren can only help lesson vitriol from Warren supporters in the fight of a SCOTUS nomination, rescinding DADT, etc.

      So if giving away a goodwill "symbolic" 120 second spot to someone who opposes those things so that said person can give a prayer that Obama's administration 'does well for the country' will in anyway make those actions or working for real policy movement forward on issues any easier, you bet I am all for it and will gladly tell my fellow progressives losing their mind over this guy, who I give less than a crap about (Warren), that this "outrage" is misguided counter productive nonsense.

      Are Warren and his followers going to hate Obama more or less because Warren is invited to give the invocation? Does liking Obama even when you disagree with the progressive actions he takes in policy make it easier or harder for people oppose such actions?

      Warren giving this invocation almost certainly won't change Warren's wrong-headed views on such matters, but giving him the stage will make it harder for Warren's people to demonize Obama and claim that the Obama administration excludes and disrespects people that they don't agree with.

      The Warren issue, also dosen't matter to those 25% of gays who have and will always oppose Obama, they just find it useful.

      Having Warren and his followers not hating Obama and not going after him hammer and tong, even though Obama moves progressive policy forward, is better than making them want to fight anything and everything.

      Let's be clear, there is a difference between triangulating policy as a true gift to the right (DOMA in the-90s) and allowing a right-wing preacher to lead a prayer while pushing for progressive policy.

      The policy is what counts and why I give less than a crap about the Warren kerfluffle. I'm much more concerned about the daunting challenges Obama is facing because of the real issues we are struggling to deal with, to be spun up much about the made-up ones. This is all the more true because in times of economic difficulty, Americans are historically retrogressive about equality. I say, let's fight the real battles.

      Nobody said that Warren and his supporters will not fight a pro-choice nominee, or that they will change their positions on gays. But this can work to lessen the demonization, which can only aid in helping us move forward on progressive goals even if in fairly minimal amounts.

      If it doesn't help lessen the resistance, so be it. At least Obama and many of us progressives are trying, without triangulating on policy. It's like Harvey Milk when he shaved off his beard and put on a suit. Or when Harvey got his gays to support the liquor store across the street, even though the owner was a homophobe because it shut him up. It isn't actually costing us anything and will be a small thing that we can point to to show that we are not demonizing our opponents or being disagreeable towards them while still disagreeing with them.

      Again, I suggest we focus on what matters, and also acknowledge that this doesn't cost us anything and has a bold chance, at least, of actually helping to ease the other sides resistance.

    1. Michael Schmidt on Dec 24, 2008 7:49:17 PM:

      I have spent a great deal of time bantering this situation back and forth with my life partner of 18 years. In our view its all about short and long term gains.

      It is hurtful! It does bring about raw bad emotion. Why should it not, we live every damn day in this country as objects of religous and social scorn. Now that all being said, wiping the sweat off our foreheads and taking a deep breath!

      Moving forward does take bringing everyone around the table.. remember what we all heard growing up.. keep freinds close, enemies closer. Obama appeears to be quite good at this. So let Rick say his prayer and move on and lets all chill out, and keep our eyes on the long goal..

      With states producing so many tangled verisons of discrimintory legisltation.. FEDERAL legislation is our only hope. Its the stage we can banter the most media and frankly organize financial boycotts and YES THAT MEANS political donations.

      In the mean time.. We are choosing to look at the long haul and do what Hillary told us.. support Obama and work for change! Merry Christmas everyone!

    1. Hawyer on Dec 24, 2008 9:14:56 PM:

      .... 'the gay and gay-friendly masses are ""exorcised"" and primed for fund-raising...'

      Chris- while I appreciate your literacy - you continue to use "exorcised" which I am sure you mean "exercised" --- PLEASE check out the distinction:

      EXERCISE: to cause anxiety, alarm, or indignation in

      EXORCISE: to expel (an evil spirit) by adjuration

    1. Double T on Dec 25, 2008 1:00:04 AM:

      Chris, there are still Ministers who believe Blacks and Jews are not human. You know what? They are not invited anywhere. They are isolated. They are treated like poison. And slowly people see this and draw away from them.

      Giving "Ricky" a seat at the table is a issue. It's new President stepping in the wrong direction. People should be concerned.

    1. Hawyer on Dec 25, 2008 1:57:09 PM:

      Those of you who are interested in articulate opinion on this issue - instead of stilted appeasement blather - would do well to watch/listen to Michelangelo Signorile speak rationally to a number of callers on his Sirius radio program:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6PRFjSc_2s&feature=channel_page

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