Mr. Obama, You Made the Wrong Choice

You said you picked infamous anti-gay bigot and Pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at your inauguration because you wanted to be inclusive and because Pastor Warren invited you to his Church despite him knowing that you and he hold vastly different views on social issues. You defended the choice thusly:



Fair enough. Or is it? You say we must learn to disagree without being disagreeable. But Mr. President-Elect, we are not talking about simple disagreements here. We aren't even talking about someone who simply is opposed to gay rights. Pastor Warren has a view of gay and lesbian Americans that is below the level of civility. You don't have to believe me, Barack, you can see it for yourself:



Rick Warren not only is disagreeing with same sex marriage, but is calling our relationships tantamount to polygamy, incest and pedophilia. You see, Mr. Obama, THIS is the problem we have with Rick Warren. We can deal with people trying to use some religious text - the same religious text that was used, by the way, to justify the slavery of the ancestors of your wife and daughters - to differ on whether denying civil marriage or other civil rights to LGBT Americans is ok. It's painful, but we can deal with that. We can fight that. What we can't - won't - deal with is fundamental disrespect and contempt of us as human beings. We will not stand for that. And that is why we will not stand for Rick Warren.

Mr. President Elect, let me remind you that the inauguration of the American president is not the place to 'return favors' just because someone invited you to their Church. You, Mr. Obama, are not inviting Pastor Warren to your Church. You are not even inviting him to your home. You are inviting him to ours. You are inviting him to America's home to give the invocation to inaugurate America's President. The other side, too, own that home, you say. They, too deserve to be heard on the inauguration of their President. Okay. Would you invite an openly racist pastor to give the invocation? How about an open anti-semite? I doubt you would, Mr. Obama. And you, as well as anyone, knows why.

Anti-semitism and racism are no longer acceptable forms of bigotry in today's America. At least not in your view. But by choosing Rick Warren, intentionally or not, you send the signal that homophobia is still an acceptable form of bigotry in this country. Perhaps the only remaining one. In today's America, it is still ok to walk down the street proudly as a anti-gay bigot. Hell, it's practically mandatory in parts of the country to run as an anti-gay candidate in order to hold public office. By your decision to invite Pastor Warren, you have sent the signal that these people should not be ashamed of themselves, but to an extent, celebrate their bigotry.

Now, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that your invitation was not intended to bring about the ends above. It was, rather, intended to highlight the areas of agreement between your upcoming administration and the young evangelical community on issues of poverty, global warming, HIV AIDS and the genocide in Dar Fur. But I remind you, Barack, the path to hell is paved with great intentions. You may not have issued the invite to legitimize homophobia, but that is what, your invitation, to a great extent, will do.

You and your supporters will point out that Rev. Joseph Lowery, a prominent civil rights leader and a same-sex marriage proponent has been invited to give the benediction. They will say that a gay band will for the first time perform in the inauguration ceremonies of the President of the United States. You will point to Nancy Sutley, the Chair-designate of your White House Council on Environmental Quality, an open lesbian. I praise those choices. But the point is, Mr. President-Elect, this isn't a matter of balancing things out. You cannot ask a racist to speak at your inauguration and try to brush it over with how diverse your cabinet is. Similarly, you cannot ask an anti-gay bigot to give the invocation and then point at your other gay-friendly acts as if that absolves your horrid choice.

I'm an eternal optimist, but that does not mean you do not have the capacity to profoundly disappoint me. And you have done it now. Many many people today look at you with a far more skeptical eye than they did on November 4. Count me among them. Gay people across the country will have lost their faith in you, and I won't blame them. Our support is not there to be taken for granted, Mr. President-elect. It is to be earned. You have hurt us and disappointed us more than you can ever imagine - actually maybe you can imagine: imagine a leader you trust and admire more than life itself bringing in a racist religious leader into his or her inauguration ceremony. And that raises the stakes. It raises the stakes on what will now be needed for you to prove yourself a true friend to the cause of LGBT equality and not merely, as your Democratic predecessor had proved, a lip servant. What does that mean? It means I want to see, at the minimum, by your first term the enactment of the following legislation:
  • A federal hate crimes legislation covering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
  • Prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (ENDA).
  • Uniting American Families Act (ensuring that same sex partners of American citizens are able to obtain green cards to live in the United States).
  • Allowing LGBT Americans to serve openly and honorably in the military. No more tomb stones of soldiers that read, "For killing two men, they gave me a medal. For loving one, they gave me a discharge."
  • Beginning work, if not completing legislative action on granting all federal rights of marriage to same sex couples, as your campaign platform promises.
Go ahead, Mr. President-elect. Show us you really deserve our support. Show us your commitment to equality through deeds instead of words. Show those of us now drowning in despair, hurt and disgust that you can truly heal those wounds. We have given you an electoral mandate and a Democratic Congress, one that is likely to include 59 Democratic Senators. Stand up for equality for all Americans. If you can do that - when you can do that - we will perhaps be able to get over our distrust that comes from being used as a political football so often by so many.