I am a fierce supporter of the rights of the LGBT community as I am of the rights of all disadvantaged and marginalized communities. It's what I do. It's what I care about. It's been my life to fight for those who are shut out of society, my entire life.
I along with many of my friends was horrified that of all people, Obama chose to invite Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. What was he thinking? Starting off with intolerance and pain when the sorrow of election day for the LGBT community with their losses in California, Arizona, etc were still so raw and painful seems to me the most insensitive thing Obama has done to date. I was furious for days. I didn't want to even hear what Pastor Warren has to say, because what I have heard come out of his mouth was hateful and angry and un-Christian.
He to me is the epitome of what's wrong with this country. Hatred packaged in faith and a young, energetic person who does just enough good to make his hateful message seem palatable to a vast and unsuspecting audience of followers who just need a bad guy to blame for their troubles. He exploits that. He exploits the pain of others by pointing to a nameless and faceless bad guy (in this case those who are attracted to people of their same sex) and telling his followers that if that bad guy just behaved better, god would look more favorably on them... It's disgusting.
As if god plays favorites among his children. As if god ever said we had the right to judge each other. As if god would have made a person he couldn't find love and compassion for in his world. As if we had some sort of superiority over ANY of god's other children and had a right to tell them they were less of a person than we were because of the way god made them... We do not have that right. All of god's children are in his image. Only he has a right to judge them and only he will in the end.
Any pastor who claims to know god's will absolutely is a fraud in my eyes. Unfortunately, many do. Beware of false profits...
So then why am I no longer fiercely angry with Obama for this decision? How could my rage turn to some level of understanding when he so clearly offended and hurt my friends, neighbors, colleagues, my fellow human beings, and in doing so myself? So why am I no longer surprised by his decision at all?
Obama promised a new kind of leadership.
To throw away the divisiveness and find our common ground and work together with all Americans to make our lives better is how he put it or something very much like that...
It seems to me he really meant it.
I'm not sure I or any progressives really understood that he REALLY meant that...
You have to understand.
As progressives we have a lot of anger, disappointment and vengence in our hearts. We have been the recipients of all of those feelings from the conservative movement for so long that our first reaction is to say to each other things like:
- "It's payback time."
- "Let's pass the craziest stuff we have on our lists first and do the practical stuff next."
- "Let's fix everything now"
- "Let's behave just like they did when they got in office, let's just do whatever the hell we want and damn what they think about it."
- "They never listened to us, why should we even open the door and let them speak."
Don't get me wrong. I still don't agree with the decision to give hate such a prominent platform. He could have asked him to speak at some breakfast or luncheon during the week and accomplished the same goal of reaching out.
In addition, I fully expect "don't ask, don't tell" to be repealed and replaced with a phrase that states that "the US military does not discriminate based on sexual orientation" on his first day.
But I am already impressed that he was able, in one act of graciously reaching out to a section of America with a vastly differing opinion on social issues, to tick off all the progressives and all the conservatives at the same time. That takes skill.
I have seen something really interesting happen though. The news is discussing the rights of LGBT Americans a LOT as a result. That can't be all bad. Prominent LGBT Americans are all over the news discussing and demanding equal rights in articulate and meaningful ways that I think pre-Prop 8 and the Warren disaster were completely ignored by the mainstream media.
At the very least, he has raised the issues to the forefront, made us ALL discuss them in the daylight and as they say, "sunlight is the best disinfectant".
Could there be some advantage to giving hatred the light of day?
He has somehow managed to make us face head on our shame. Not just those of us who are enlightened, but also those who disagree with us, ALL of us are forced to discuss a subject that until now has been hidden in the prejudices and lies that have only been expressed in the privacy of a voting booth...
For those who claim to be conservative people of faith, the shame of judge not, lest ye be judged...
For those of us who claim to be progressive people of faith, the shame of not opening our hearts to all of our friends and neighbors, even when we disagree with them...
For those of us who claim to be neither, well, the shame of supporting the suppression of speech in a society where we have proven over and over again that allowing all speech in a free society is the only way to shine a light on the bad stuff and disinfect society from it...
I'm still mad, but...
Maybe we should be paying more attention... he could be onto something...
One other thing crossed my mind... could this be symbolic in a way none of us have considered??? Yes, Pastor Rick Warren and his intolerance and hatred are the opening of the ceremony, but one of my personal heroes and the complete opposite of intolerance and hatred, Pastor Joseph Lowery will be closing the ceremony.
Pastor Joseph Lowery is an African American pastor who has fought for civil rights as Dr. King's closest partner in the struggle all the way to the rights of LGBT Americans. He once said to me in an email:
"(the) Issue of same sex marriage is among the toughest (like abortion).... concept and culture of marriage is so firmly fixed in our minds and hearts as between boy-girl, man-woman, husband-wife that it sends folks into cultural shock to think otherwise...Could Obama starting with Warren and ending with Lowery be signaling to us all that the days of the rhetoric of hate end with Warren and a new era will begin with Lowery? Hmmm.... something to ponder...
Somehow we must deal with the civil-human rights aspect of partnerships-unions in order to refute the so called need for using the Constitution to deny rights... and that such sacred issues are used as weapons of mass distraction politically.
It is particularly distressing to see our people distracted by "wedge" techniques....our major focus should be on school dropouts, AIDS-HIV pandemic; self hatred that expresses itself in violence, guns, and greed expressed in drug trafficing, etc.
I do not claim to have the whole answer but should I err I want to err on the side of equal rights... inclusiveness, compassion... love... not exclusion, denial, hate, selective granting of rights, etc..."