Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
December 17, 2008
The Trans Scare
January 12, 2009

You Don’t Know Jack or Barack

Last month the Advocate ran an article titled “Gay Is The New Black?: The Last Great Civil Rights Struggle“. Today Joe Solmonese and other gay rights advocates have expressed outrage at the choice of Pastor Rick Warren. But not every GLBT person agrees. I count myself as one of those voices.

I defended Barack Obama feverishly when the whole Donnie McClurkin thing came down because I understood what he was trying to do. He’s never claimed to be a liberal, though many have put that tag on him. He’s never been anti-war, though many have put that tag on him. He’s never been anti-Christian even though many have put that tag on him.  He’s said in his speeches that he’s not the “president of red America or blue America, but the United States of America” or something like that thousands of times. I can understand the anger at the Gates pick or even Salazar. But Rick Warren isn’t going to dictate policy. He isn’t going to be a member of Obama’s staff. He’s giving a prayer.

Obama hasn’t went back on any promises to the GLBT community. He wasn’t thrown us under the bus. I don’t know Barack Obama very well, personally. I don’t know if he likes gays and lesbians, I don’t know if he’d be embarrassed to be seen with a transgender person. I don’t know if he’d talk about me to others behind my back. I don’t really care. As Bayard Rustin said:

Our job is not to get those people who dislike us to love us. Nor was our aim in the civil rights movement to get prejudiced white people to love us. Our aim was to try to create the kind of America, legislatively, morally, and psychologically, such that even though some whites continued to hate us, they could not openly manifest that hate”

I don’t care what he thinks in private. What I do care about is his support of GLBT issues. He’s never backslid on those issues. Not in his time in state government, nor in his time in the Senate, and he will not as President. He’s made promises to the Christian community, and I think he’ll keep those too.

But his essential message to all about seeing where we agree, not concentrating on where we disagree. Abortion is a good example. He’s pro-choice but he’s also wants to work very hard to see them happen less.

I have to wonder why people are making such a big deal about this pick. The only conclusion I can draw is that they are either extremely privileged or extremely arrogant (or both). The Advocate cover shows an utter lack of respect for other movements, and even for civil rights protections for some in their own community (transgender people).

I’ll join the dissenters when Obama doesn’t sign the Matthew Shepard Act or ENDA, or changes his mind on DADT and DOMA, but not before. Until then, I’m an Obama girl.

13 Comments

  1. sara says:

    I kind of feel like he’s just throwing a bone to the conservatives/religious folks. It’s not like he’s giving this guy any sort of power in his administration. He’s just inviting him to his party and making right-wingers feel included. Not that I agree with Warren on… anything, but it’s not like this one event is going to set us queers back 10 years or anything.

  2. sara says:

    I kind of feel like he’s just throwing a bone to the conservatives/religious folks. It’s not like he’s giving this guy any sort of power in his administration. He’s just inviting him to his party and making right-wingers feel included. Not that I agree with Warren on… anything, but it’s not like this one event is going to set us queers back 10 years or anything.

  3. sara says:

    I kind of feel like he’s just throwing a bone to the conservatives/religious folks. It’s not like he’s giving this guy any sort of power in his administration. He’s just inviting him to his party and making right-wingers feel included. Not that I agree with Warren on… anything, but it’s not like this one event is going to set us queers back 10 years or anything.

  4. Janet Williams says:

    I think Rick Warren is only one of many millions of christian hypocrites and is an excellent choice to deliver prayers at Obama’s inauguration.
    Mr. Obama never promised gay or transgender people anywhere, anything. He even said that he was not in favor of same-sex marriage. If you can’t read between those lines, then you are indeed going to have trouble understanding politicians and the world in general. Wake up and smell the straight coffee.
    We as a group or a people or whatever you want to call us, are not going anywhere until we run for office and fill seats in the legislatures and councils around the country. We need them to negotiate with us for our vote. We need to be in position to say ‘you vote for my bill and I’ll vote for your’s’. That, whether you like it or not, is how politics works. We can’t deliver the votes and proved it in states like California where gay based initiatives were defeated decidedly, not even close.
    Obama is a genius and he has now laid an offering at the altar of the most influential political machine in America…The Christian right.
    Genius! Just genius!

  5. Janet Williams says:

    I think Rick Warren is only one of many millions of christian hypocrites and is an excellent choice to deliver prayers at Obama’s inauguration.
    Mr. Obama never promised gay or transgender people anywhere, anything. He even said that he was not in favor of same-sex marriage. If you can’t read between those lines, then you are indeed going to have trouble understanding politicians and the world in general. Wake up and smell the straight coffee.
    We as a group or a people or whatever you want to call us, are not going anywhere until we run for office and fill seats in the legislatures and councils around the country. We need them to negotiate with us for our vote. We need to be in position to say ‘you vote for my bill and I’ll vote for your’s’. That, whether you like it or not, is how politics works. We can’t deliver the votes and proved it in states like California where gay based initiatives were defeated decidedly, not even close.
    Obama is a genius and he has now laid an offering at the altar of the most influential political machine in America…The Christian right.
    Genius! Just genius!

  6. Lori D says:

    I meant my last comment to show that I agreed with what was in quotes, not the inverse, btw.

  7. Lori D says:

    I meant my last comment to show that I agreed with what was in quotes, not the inverse, btw.

  8. Lori D says:

    “Find commonality of purpose and work towards those goals…”
    I oftentimes wonder just why we choose to shoot ourselves in the feet in the haste to spew our own frustrations and anger into opinions that serve little purpose other than shouting from the rooftops. Maybe I did just that.

    I for one am not going to throw Barack out with the Warren Water. Let’s aim for PROgress and not stasis.

  9. Lori D says:

    “Find commonality of purpose and work towards those goals…”
    I oftentimes wonder just why we choose to shoot ourselves in the feet in the haste to spew our own frustrations and anger into opinions that serve little purpose other than shouting from the rooftops. Maybe I did just that.

    I for one am not going to throw Barack out with the Warren Water. Let’s aim for PROgress and not stasis.

  10. Jennifer says:

    The author seems to have written this article from the perspective that LGBT and Christians are mutually exclusive. I am a transgender Christian woman, and I am very disappointed Barack Obama chose Rick Warren to give the prayer. Because Rick Warren doesn’t want any rights for me.

    • Marti Abernathey says:

      But Rick Warren does want to help the poor, and is doing work on HIV/AIDS. What you want isn’t or shouldn’t be the only consideration for Obama if we are going to be governed as a nation, instead of factions or special interest groups. There are things we can work with people like Rick Warren on, like global poverty, that will make this country a beacon of hope for the world. We can either squabble about our differences, or find commonality of purpose and work towards those goals. I’m choosing the latter.

  11. Jennifer says:

    The author seems to have written this article from the perspective that LGBT and Christians are mutually exclusive. I am a transgender Christian woman, and I am very disappointed Barack Obama chose Rick Warren to give the prayer. Because Rick Warren doesn’t want any rights for me.

    • Marti Abernathey says:

      But Rick Warren does want to help the poor, and is doing work on HIV/AIDS. What you want isn’t or shouldn’t be the only consideration for Obama if we are going to be governed as a nation, instead of factions or special interest groups. There are things we can work with people like Rick Warren on, like global poverty, that will make this country a beacon of hope for the world. We can either squabble about our differences, or find commonality of purpose and work towards those goals. I’m choosing the latter.

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