Friday, December 19, 2008

Gays And Lesbians At War Over Warren … I Don’t Get It

Over the last few years, gay love has been on prominent display in front of America. It’s been a wild rollercoaster of highs, lows, joy, outrage, passion and disgust in this trip leading us from Brokeback to Saddleback. And now that we’re here at Saddleback, where the church’s Pastor Rick Warren has been tapped by President-Elect Barack Obama to deliver the invocation.

Let the outrage, emotion, accusatory tones and harsh comments begin again ….

One question. Why?

Why in this era of an economy falling down all around our ears, here and around the world, with no end in sight and virtually no hope glimmering on the horizon is the selection of Rev. Warren the big issue? Surely the answer will be “strike while the iron is hot, make momentum while the opportunity exists to further the issue, and it’s something [they] most avidly need.”

Yet I can’t help but remember that every time transgenders have brought up the issues, attempting to get anything above the GLBT squelch to straight media that we were similarly outraged, in dire economic straits, have desperately been pushing for access to any jobs for well over a decade. We were met with derisive comments about overreacting (even with less media), had attempts to affix guilt on us over taking “our allies” to task and had the message communicated that we were merely being immature and histrionical.

Well, Barney Freakin’ Frank, Human Right sCampaign (HRC), all you other starry-eyed screeching weasels … welcome to reciprocity. Stick pacifiers in your mouths and shut the hell up before you ruin it for us all! This is all about petty childish grandstanding in front of a TV camera and immature whining! Between the two of us, weren’t you supposed to be the grown ups? What happened – mesmerized by the klieg lights?

“It's not too cool to be ridiculed
But you brought this upon yourself.
The world is tired of pacifiers
We want the truth and nothing else.” — You Haven’t Done Nothin’, Stevie Wonder

I seem to recall Pres. Bush bringing in a local DC clergyman in 2004 for the invocation … Rev. Leon, I believe. He was a bit controversial in that he wasn’t a conservative, but more of an advocate for the poor in his congregation. It sure didn’t appear to affect Bush’s policymaking these past four years, did it? Why would you presume that somehow Rick Warren would be prime counsel to guide the Obama Administration these next four?

Again, why is the pitched rhetoric starting as well. On CNN, Hilary Rosen, former board member of HRC (and spouse to their former Exec. Dir. Elizabeth Birch) “every gay person who paid attention to this today felt like we were kicked in the stomach…. [Inauguration Day] is the day to make everybody feel good about the new president and the new direction of this country ….”

Journalist Roland Martin noted that there were both a pro-marriage and anti-marriage clergy on the Inauguration program, and asked if that meant that supporters of Warren’s church wouldn’t ‘get to feel good’ … to which Rosen shot back that “they could’ve found someone both [sides] could agree” with. That infers Rosen would be fine with another anti-same sex marriage pastor? That’s dubious.

Just today I read comments after the CNN Rosen & Martin interview dressing down journalist Roland Martin over not being supportive enough of the gay community, and later comments piling on about him and his allegedly homophobic minister as well. Didn’t we just get off one of these meteoric emotional juggernauts a month ago? Remember the reckless rhetoric lobbed around? ….

Some of the comments on Facebook and the blogosphere are now focusing anger on Obama, with some making mention of how strong they came out in support of him. I can’t help remembering some of the comments I received while standing in Houston’s Montrose Bar Row campaigning for Obama (comments I know are incendiary, but don’t feel need to repeat here), instead of supporting the “community” by pushing for Hillary in the primary. Even folks like Hilary Rosen and Barney Frank were in the tank for Clinton, and HRC’s board of directors didn’t donate a dime in primary time to Obama. Do they think he wouldn’t remember that? We trans people don’t even attempt that kind of chutzpah, and our folks were heavily in the tank for Obama in primaries (knowing Hillary’s stance on “incremental – ahem – support” on things like ENDA). I guess maybe we’re not “mature” enough?

Even more ridiculous to me are some in the gay community who are now trying to work up support on the fly for an alternative choice to Sen. Caroline Kennedy because – ta dah! – she’s a friend (and presumably the hand-picked choice) of Barack Obama. Uh … she’s also niece to Ted Kennedy, one of the most gay-supportive senators ever! Why this all out mobilization against anything Obama? Are we preparing for war?

This choice of Pastor Rick Warren doesn’t mean Obama will carry the religious right’s water on marriage, Five years ago, we gave both HRC and even Barney Frank a modicum of faith to see where they’d go with it. We had to sit tight, and be patient (even though we weren’t getting good signs). True, our faith then wasn’t rewarded. But for the gay and lesbian leaders (some from those very parties who dashed faith), why are they now incapable of the same patience or the same faith? Maybe it’ll end up like our shot with HRC and Barney … maybe it won’t. But wouldn’t it be fair to at least give him a chance instead of writing him off even before the election?

There are some battles, especially when it’s over legislation that could protect, or if excised create a special class denied protections that are worthy of fighting with fervor. CNN commentator, Ruben Navarrette put it in perspective: “there is an ocean's worth of bigger fish to fry.” He also had this to add:

“It's interesting. Many of those raising a fuss are talking about respect, demanding respect, insisting they're not given respect, etc. Well, that works both ways. If they want respect, they have to give it. They can start by respecting the wishes of the president-elect to plan his inauguration as he sees fit.”

As a girl who knows a life of never seeing respect, from a community virtually devoid of getting respect … I can respect that! I’m going to respect Obama’s decision to choose his speakers and give our new president that modicum of faith. Time will tell if we get respect in return ….

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find out what it means to me
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Take care of T.C.B.” — Respect, Aretha Franklin


Rebekah said...

Thanks Vanessa for a wondefully thoughtful piece. You certainly spoke for me as well. Thank you, Rebekah Jane Lee

beckyallison said...

I totally agree, Vanessa. For eight years we've been subject to a totally partisan administration, and though we wished for "inclusion," it was almost always denied us. Now we have a President-Elect who says he is going to be inclusive of all Americans, and suddenly we don't want that? We want those who disagree with us to be just as marginalized as we have been? Then we are no better than they are, just on the opposite side of issues.

I strongly disagree with Rick Warren's social theology, but I support Barack Obama's decision to include him in the inauguration ceremonies. As you have said, it doesn't mean he will be guiding the policies of the new administration.