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Obama's Praying Homophobe: Reaping the Harvest in Rick Warren

The great anti-slavery activist Frederick Douglass wrote that "power concedes nothing without a demand. Never has, never will." It's our LGBT "leaders" ignoring of this basic principle which has led us to the sorry state of affairs wherein Barack Obama feels that he can get away with slating the notorious homophobe Rick Warren to give the invocation at the president-elect's inaugural.

By never making any demands of Obama and instead focusing all of their fire on the Republicans, LGBT leaders have allowed their well-funded organizations to become little more than adjuncts to the even wealthier Democratic Party. And surprise, surprise, Democratic leaders just take our support for granted and gallop to the right -- the same course notoriously taken by former President Bill Clinton, saddling us with the Defense of Marriage Act and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," among other things.

Obama's cynical defense of Warren, that he -- Obama -- is "bringing diverse elements together for dialog," hardly merits serious rebuttal. No mere philosophical opponent of same sex marriage, Warren took to the airways in California to tell people to vote against our equal rights, vote against our equal citizenship. Now it doesn't take much insight to understand that by giving a rabid homophobe such a high-profile platform as the inaugural invocation, Obama undermines equality for LGBT people.

Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign and other gay leaders have rightly condemned the Warren selection. However, these are the same Democratic party operatives who gave Obama uncritical support. That the gay leadership muted its criticism of a man who refused to support our basic civil right to marry was a cynical machination made by hacks whose first loyalty is to the Democratic electoral organization, and not to advancing our rights.

The California marriage debacle was but one example. Proposition 8 opponents made no demands on Obama that he go on broadcast television to denounce the attack on equal civil marriage rights, instead being satisfied to castigate not Obama, but the religious right, for implying that Obama backed their efforts since they all opposed "gay marriage."

Now is the time to put aside any remaining illusions that the way to win human rights -- not to mention a host of closely related issues such as peace and global justice -- is to back an agent for maintaining the status quo. Be especially wary of politicians who chant "Change We Can Believe In," while they act in the name of business-as-usual.

As always, real change will be made by people oppressed under current conditions, by people at the grass roots organizing to take control of their futures. The recent examples of workers occupying Republic Windows and Doors and thousands of LGBT folk taking to the streets following the Prop 8 disaster point the way forward.

The is the way that rights have always been won in the past. This is how they can be won today.

Gay Liberation Network


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