Dish readers will know my own conflicted feelings about the selection of Rick Warren for the Inaugural Invocation. But feelings must at some point cede to reason. And I sense an understandable but, the more I think about it, misjudged response on the part of my fellow gays and lesbians. In our hurt, we may be pushing away from a real opportunity to engage and win hearts and minds. Here's Glenn Greenwald:
Reasonable arguments can certainly be advanced in defense of the virtues of Obama's post-partisan theory of politics. But it's simply unreasonable to depict any of it as new. It's exactly what Democrats have been clinging to, desperately and mostly with futility, for two decades at least.
I disagree. I think Obama is different. I think the earnestness and sincerity of his campaign, and its generational force, have given us a chance for something new, and I fear that in responding too viscerally to the Warren choice, we may be throwing something very valuable away far too prematurely. There is no question that gays and lesbians have made enormous strides in explaining who we are in the last couple of decades. There is equally no question that Obama has substantively committed his administration to more gay inclusion and gay equality than any president in history. We absolutely do need to be vigilant on this. But we should also understand Obama's attempt to bridge some gaps in America that the Clintons, with their boomer baggage and Dick Morris cynicism, couldn't and didn't. This is what matters. Do gays and lesbians want to be a part of this - or sit fuming on the sidelines at symbolic slights?
I know the arguments against this, and if Obama delivers nothing on gay equality, the critics will have every reason to complain loudly, as they should. But I'm not going there yet. And the truth is: if we cannot engage a Rick Warren on the question of our equality, we may secure a narrow and bitter victory in some states (just as the Christianists won a narrow and bitter victory in California in November). But we will not win the bigger argument and our victories will lack the moral legitimacy they deserve.
The greatest distortion of our politics in this respect is the notion that gays are in some way opposed to faith and in some way that our cause is a function solely of the left. Neither is true.
Gay people contribute disproportionately to the religious and spiritual life of this country and we seek no attack on free religion freely expressed and celebrated. I find the idea of silencing my opponents abhorrent. Many gays voted for McCain. I believe in family, which is why I have tried my whole life to integrate my sexual orientation with my own family and finally two summers ago, to become a full part of it as a married man. I love my church, however much pain it still inflicts on itself and others. And I am not alone in this, as I have discovered these past two decades.
If I cannot pray with Rick Warren, I realize, then I am not worthy of being called a Christian. And if I cannot engage him, then I am not worthy of being called a writer. And if we cannot work with Obama to bridge these divides, none of us will be worthy of the great moral cause that this civil rights movement truly is.
The bitterness endures; the hurt doesn't go away; the pain is real. But that is when we need to engage the most, to overcome our feelings to engage in the larger project, to understand that not all our opponents are driven by hate, even though that may be how their words impact us. To turn away from such dialogue is to fail ourselves, to fail our gay brothers and sisters in red state America, and to miss the possibility of the Obama moment.
It can be hard to take yes for an answer. But yes is what Obama is saying. And we should not let our pride or our pain get in the way.