My short response to the Obama-Warren mess

The longer I ponder a response to Barack Obama’s invitation of Rick Warren to give the invocation at the Inauguration, the less likely I’ll be to finish it. So here’s the nub.

An aside to Mr. Obama:

We know you’re not a liberal, but a lot of liberals, labor people, environmentalists, feminists and others supported you because you had the organizational chops and charisma to beat the Republican. Oh, and let’s not forget The Gays, who are pretty hopping mad at you right now and have been since the election. Together, we will be a part of your Big Tent: either as invited guests or a burr in your saddle. Turn on us and we’ll turn on you. And so will the Obama Kids: there’s nothing they hate more than a hypocrite. Inviting that bigot Rick Warren is a slap in the face. Just because he’s got his head screwed on straight for a few issues of human decency doesn’t give him carte blanche to go after gay people like me, sick people who need stem cell research, anyone who wants to decide about their own reproduction or even the president of Iran.

An aside to the liberals, labor people, environmentalists, feminists and others, including The Gays:

Barack Obama isn’t a liberal; rather, the world dodged a bullet by not having a McCain-Palin administration. He will only live up to his change rhetoric if he’s held to it. Inclusion isn’t dependent on the next president’s character — the old Unitarian canard — but the power people bring or withhold from him. The last eight years of presidential unresponsiveness shouldn’t keep us from being organized, visible and loud. We need to be everywhere. More about the tactics later. For now, one word: solidarity. I do not expect non-gay liberals to pat me on the head and say I’m sorry you’re so upset. I expect them to be angry and vocal. And I’ll be there for the gag rule, card check, transit funding, and other issues that need to be reversed or improved. The Right expects us to stay apart.

A last point:

To remind y’all, my thrift shtick isn’t because I’m some tightwad. I plan to have money in the bank when the call comes: for political contributions, for issue campaigns, for legal defense funds. Stay vigilant.

No honeymoon.

About Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 44, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

13 thoughts on “My short response to the Obama-Warren mess

  1. Obama’s a liberal in terms of voting records for sure. I think your problem here is finding out there are Liberals out there not particularly “for” gays if they’re not politically useful.

    We saw this in Illinois with Farrahkan’s representative on the Illinois Hate Crimes Commission: Sister Claudette Muhammad. She was allowed to stay with support from Liberals including Gay ones despite the blood thirsty comments from Farrahkan on Hollywood Homosexual Jews. (He managed to link them all together in a single slur).

    I don’t know much about Sarah Palin’s Church but I know many socially conservative churches that preach a gentle faith and not the fire-and-brimstone and damnation of gays and others spoken at the Churches Obama’s claimed as spiritual guides.

    McCain upped the GOP’s percentage of the Gay vote this election. The only cohorent in the electorate where that happened. I think there were some gays out there paying attention to Obama’s friends.

  2. i think it is good that obama is practicing what he’s preaching. come together despite our differences. just because warren was for prop8 doesn’t mean he’s a hateful sinister man. he is, after all, a man of god. don’t forget that rev. peter gomes (a gay christian preacher and best-selling christian author) participated in the inaugurations of reagan and bush sr. (opposites can still work together) we shouldn’t get pissed off and protest every little thing that upsets us, because then nothing gets done and we become nothing but cranks in the eye of the public. not good. in an ideal world maybe obama would not pick this man. but we don’t live in an ideal world. we have to work with what we have. it’s pretty clear obama is not going to change his mind. “let go and let god.” that’s all.

  3. @dd. The “man of God” defense covers a lot of very bad people, and doesn’t get very far with me. And “let go and let God” suggests the system is otherwise helpless, which it isn’t.

  4. true, the man of god defense can’t be applied to everyone. but warren doesn’t strike me as a bad person (in fact he’s a very polite and friendly person, not that that is enough, but still it counts for something), and obama seems to feel the same way. i think obama’s pick of warren was sincere and well-meaning, i don’t think he did it to piss off anyone or to make people feel left out. god sees our hearts, and god will unite them, even through seemingly bad circumstances. at least that’s what i believe. i “stick to my guns,” and i respect you for sticking to yours.

  5. Wow Bill, if one didn’t know better they might suspect some racrial divisiveness in that little post of yours…you betcha.

    Scott, I am a black straight liberal, and I am pissed off too. I think giving Warren any type of voice is vile. I really hope that this event will bring out black UU’s against the choice, because we need to all stand together. As I said in a post on East of Midnight, it is time like this when the slight does not affect me when I am really being a Liberal by standing beside my LBGT family members and decrying No!

    That said, no honeymoon? I would suggest that we protest the decision and see what he does to reach out before an all out revocation. I say that because as an African American I have had to contend with Presidents and “Liberal” senators doing stupid things in the instant, but in the end performing the greater good.

    For example, many African Americans have mixed feelings about Bill and Hillary. Even Ted, has made gaffs.

    So I would say protest the stupidity, hold his feet to the fire, but don’t burn the bridge. If the LBGT community allows this one stupid error to cause a negative reaction, they will lose more than an opportunity to change his mind. African Americans, particularly the professional and middle classes, are on a knife’s edge. Many still go to their old neighborhood churches which are being seduced by extreme right wing churches. Even though Jessie Jackson, of all people, is trying to fight a shift to the right by black churches too many are leaning towards the fight and funding for community programs.

    The professionals and middle classes in those churches however are perfect candidates for our faith and can be the voices of dissent to gender bigotry. Many will close ranks, however, if the first African American president is unfairly besieged by their LBGT allies. Remember, in the minds of many African Americans it was gay men like J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohn who lashed out against blacks to cover their lives.

    Too often Liberal blacks must watch as Liberal Whites, straight and gay, support people who have done or said insulting things towards blacks. My white openly gay minister’s love of Jefferson comes readily to my mind.

    So yes, protest, be angry, make him know he has done wrong, but remember you are not special, this happens to others all the time. Let’s not alienate allies.

  6. @Chuck B. Thanks for writing and welcome.

    My call No honeymoon is just what it means: liberals and kin shouldn’t set back and expect President-elect Obama to magically come out of the liberal closet. That’s not where he is — there’s a lot of post-election and economic fatigue in the way — but I am worried that there’s a short window in which to be either included or excluded. We need to be working (1) to voice opinions about senior appointments (2) backing policy priorities — or else the financial crisis or conservative vested interests will obscure them and (3) protest being taken for granted. On the whole, though, I suspect we’re on the same page.

    Living in D.C., I certainly know the varieties of suppression and co-option
    But if you’re going to bring up Hoover and Cohn — closeted men from another era who were just as cruel to their gay enemies as anyone else: a “tradition” that lives in the GOP — I’d have to bring up the well-placed black ministers alive and well here who bait their congregations against gays, which sounds like code for whites. (The black gays getting the short end from all sides.)

    The fact the Right lives for this kind of feuding only makes me more resolved to get past it.

  7. Wow Bill, if one didn’t know better they might suspect some racrial divisiveness in that little post of yours…you betcha.

    So we should shrug our shoulders when Farrakhan called for washing the streets of Jerusalem with blood because the Mayor allowed a Gay Pride Parade? That’s racist?

  8. It doesn’t really matter very much if Obama is a liberal or not. He is simply the only one who can stop the Right now and in the next 4 or 8 years. In the international arena, which is the one that affects me, I think that Obama is also the only one who can restore America’s prestige after 8 years of brutal Republican administration. And, with all due respect for the Gay movement in the US, I am much more concerned that Obama said that it could take up to 2 years to close the Guantanamo concentration camp (a place that would have made Goebbels proud of), when he should be closing that humanitarian nightmare in months if not weeks, rather than who are the clergypeople invited to his inauguration.

  9. …2 years to close the Guantanamo concentration camp (a place that would have made Goebbels proud of)…

    A camp that’s had a UU Chaplain too. What would Goebbels have mad of that?

    Liberalism has lost it’s senses. It will claim Farrahkan as an ally despite the bloodthirsty preaching yet condem conservatives with pretty gentle outlooks about sinners according to their sexual ethics.

    I had an uncle who was a pretty conservative Episcopal Priest and he would do a high Church Mass in a Cathederal in Chicago on Sat nights that probably had more gays in attendance than UUs in Chicago…. we won’t gain members among anyone, even those we think should be with us, unless we make some sense about what’s right and wrong; good and evil. Right now we look pretty confusing… silly and locked into Democratic politics… not spirituality.

  10. Yes, there was a Unitarian Universalist chaplain posted (for a time) at Guantanamo Bay, who is also a friend.

    I’m not sure what point Bill makes of it, except to share Jaume’s invocation of Godwin’s Law. Are chaplains — indeed, I’ll add doctors and lawyers — supposed to not be there? I would think they need more, not less.

    As for looking silly: I think not standing up for one’s own dignity in a national — not partisan — setting is far from silly and goes to the best traditions of our faith.

  11. Scott Wells

    ” I do not expect non-gay liberals to pat me on the head and say I’m sorry you’re so upset. I expect them to be angry and vocal. And I’ll be there for the gag rule, card check, transit funding, and other issues that need to be reversed or improved. The Right expects us to stay apart.”

    Maybe its because I’m a straight, white, twenty-something, male worried about just getting by, however I just can’t get angry at Obama for inviting Warren to give the invocation. Maybe I should, but I just can’t.

    That being said, I do agree that we need to stay together. I don’t know if the right expects us to stay apart as much as them expecting us to not be able to stay united and organized for the long haul.

    *************

    Bill Baar responds:

    So we should shrug our shoulders when Farrakhan called for washing the streets of Jerusalem with blood because the Mayor allowed a Gay Pride Parade? That’s racist?

    Thats crazy! That does make me angry.

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