As a gay man, I feel hurt and upset by Obama's inviting evangelist Rick Warren to speak at the Inauguration.
During the presidential campaign, I thought a lot about how as the Bush years went on, and the rest of the world thought less and less well of us and we seemed to manufacture almost nothing. I wondered if this was the waning of America, the beginning of our losing what was great about us. The fall of the Roman Empire, but now us.
And I felt that if McCain/Palin had been elected, the downfall would continue for certain.
Obama being elected was, and still is, the best hope that our country can refind our values. And finally address global warming, that was ignored the last 8 years, etc. etc., with the other 20 serious, serious problems we face.
But now Obama has invited anti-gay Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration.
And Mr. Warren is profoundly Old School about homosexuality -- he thinks it is a sin, which he bases on his belief on passages in the Bible. There are also passages in the Bible that support slavery; is it time to send Barack and Michelle back to the cotton fields? That feels rude to say, but my point is, just because something is in the Bible is not a reason to accept it; you have to analyze it and figure out if it's part of the Bible that was written centuries ago from a different, less mentally evolved state.
Anyway, for a gay person such as myself who has been an enthusiastic Obama supporter, this is a depressing, saddening, infuriating choice for his first day in office.
I get he's trying to reach across the aisle. And I gather Mr. Warren is good on the environment and on AIDS in Africa (having been unengaged by the issue, I've read, years ago when it was primarily in the gay population).
Obama may be a visionary about not demonizing people he disagrees with.
Hillary said a few things during the primary fight I would find hard to forgive (praising McCain as potential commander-in-chief, saying Obama had "one speech"); and yet he truly seems to value her, and he's invited her to work with him. (I admire, too, how Ms. Clinton overcame her understandable disappointment and truly campaigned for Obama.)
So on some level I'm trying to be open to the "we must talk to those we don't agree with" idea. It does seem the only way to get something done.
Still this is the first event of his presidency, and gay people's feelings seem so easily sacrificed by Obama.
Imagine if there was a fairly accomplished minister somewhere who had some good opinions on the environment and did some other good things, but he also just firmly believed that African Americans were inferior beings, that their brains were simply smaller or something. But lots of other things were good about him.
Would Obama invite him to the Inauguration? I doubt it. And I don't think he should. Maybe talk with him over coffee if you want to try to find common ground, but invite him to this celebration of Obama's election?
It feels similar to me, this inviting of Warren. Really leaves the gay people feeling not much like celebrating.
So over the past days I have felt angry at Obama. And then sad. And now blank. And I worry if he's up to the task of all the problems the country and the world have. He looked exhausted at the last press conference he appeared at -- though who can blame him? The economy is terrifying, and it's really not clear what should be done. My blink is a massive government-supported stimulus program that creates useful jobs (and ready-to-go jobs) is our best hope, as he and his advisers seem to think. But I don't think anybody knows for sure.
Still Obama's remains our best hope for the country... and that's how it is.
I hope he will open himself to overcoming some of what I suspect are prejudices and sloppy reasoning he has gleaned from his Christian religious training. I say that having been raised Catholic, and having to work hard to overcome the guilt and negative assumptions I was indoctrinated with about being gay as I went through 12 years of Catholic schooling.
I mean, when you're gay, you have to think about all those religious teachings, and decide if they're correct or just the passed-down-through-centuries misunderstandings and demonizations of people.
When you're not gay -- like Obama -- you don't have to think about that issue so much, you don't have to analyze all those institutionalized prejudices and illogic. And if you think gay people "choose" it, you really are not thinking very hard or thinking with empathy.
So my kindest thoughts -- with hurt and resentment put aside -- is that President-Elect Obama will think about the Christian teachings he has accepted on gay people. And remember all the nutty things that are in the Bible (put adulterers to death, put homosexuals to death, don't eat food from animals with cloven hoofs), and think through if Bible teaching on gay people is in any way core to the teachings of Christ; and if it belongs in the same discard pile as does the Bible's "slave, obey your master."