Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite Save As Favorite View Article Stats
32 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

To Mr. Obama From His Newly Gay Constituents

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 6   Well Said 6   Valuable 4  
View Ratings | Rate It

Become a Fan
  (2 fans)

opednews.com

"I cannot sit here idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham." -- Dr. King, 16 April 1963

The news of your choice to honor Rick Warren with the privilege of delivering your inaugural Invocation -- on a day that so many of us worked for with every wit, penny or hope we had -- has caused more pain and sadness than you can imagine. Because any invocation that issues from Rick Warren cannot be an appeal to a higher power's blessing but a conjuring of the basest spirits plaguing and dividing the American people.

While you may be right that the American people and in particular, that your supporters are "noisy, diverse and opinionated', Mr. Obama, civil rights are not an opinion. Civil rights is not one side of a balanced disagreement and it was saddening beyond expression to hear you frame the rightful and widespread recoiling from your choice in this way. Contrary to the headlines, it's not only the gay community that has been hurt by this choice to showcase Warren. It is also women like me who believe our choice is inherent and who seek to safeguard it for our daughters. It's also those of us who will never countenance anti-Semitism no matter the fount, and especially those of us who will never agree to the idea that there are some people in our society who are not fully human and so, whose life and dignity are somehow available as a bargaining chip in political negotiations.

The GLBT community has been made, unfairly, to bear the brunt of the opposition to Mr. Warren. Warren is a Dominionist, an extreme ideology associated with white supremacy, with homophobia, with anti-Semitism, with misogyny and with the intrusion of radical right wing religious views on our secular democracy. If the repudiation of Mr. Warren and his views is being labeled "gay" at the moment, then anyone who supports the Constitution and equal rights must also be gay by that measure. Mr. Obama, it seems that as people of conscience, many of us are proudly gay right now.

"This is our time". At some point soon, we will come to the understanding that "social conservatism" is a euphemism, code for "public discrimination we still accept". Because "social conservatism" has nothing to do with conservatism or with civil society. It is an implicit packaging of a group of bigotries that we as a nation still allow to pass as acceptable in our democratic society. "Social conservatism" is a rubric that allows racists to face the light of day and to openly pray for harm to come to women and to gay people. We accept that these bigotries are fanned in radical churches much as anti-American sentiment is fanned in radical madrasas. We accept them to be broadcast in public, too, just as open racism once was. The agency that a woman has over her body or that a gay person has over their life are now both more commonly accepted targets. To our shame, we have normalized these hatreds and accept them as "social" and "conservative" when they are anti-social and destructive.

Normalizing this group of institutionalized bigotries is what Rick Warren does for a living.  

I can't know why you chose Warren but, with respect, it cannot be as a credible gesture of unity. The authoritarian right reads all such gestures as surrenders and surely you know that. Reaching out to Warren and all he stands for (all that he advocates, anyway, in his cottage industry of division and disrespect) is to reach out to discrimination and so, to exclusion -- the antithesis of the purpose you describe. One of the very particular delights in your candidacy was a pleasure in your nimble intelligence, education and sweeping empathy. It's exactly because of such bright promise that seeing you embrace this destructive man and hearing you invoke "inclusion" is particularly painful. How can it be our moment when the man you've chosen to hail an Almighty advocates against the human dignity of so many? Adding that negative man to our national celebration is clearly subtraction, not addition.

It may be that the American people have for once surprised even you, Mr. Obama. It may be that for once, we're a little ahead of your estimation in our appreciation and in our respect for our fellow citizens and so, can calmly and rationally tell you: Rick Warren cannot possibly represent us well enough to summon any greater spirit of peace and strength and unity from his toxic, public positions of dehumanizing exclusion and ofdivision. Especially not on the one day every four years when we yearn most to cohere as a people. I hope coming to know we're a little better than we seem to be, noisy and diverse and opinionated as we are, is not an unwelcome surprise to you.

On the night of your election, you reminded us that what we had achieved was only a chance to effect change. While you seem to be saying your goal is to bring us together as a nation,  trading political cover to discrimination cannot result in unity. On the contrary, it's the premature precluding, the closing off of our hard won chance. That surely is the old politics that you so often dismissed on the stump. As Dr. King said in a letter you might recognize, "I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends."

May you see the wisdom of that affirmation anew so all Americans can share the joy of your inauguration on that so long awaited day.

 

Elizabeth Ferrari is a San Francisco author and activist.
Add this Page to Facebook!   Submit to Twitter   Submit to Reddit   Submit to Stumble Upon   Pin It!   Fark It!   Tell A Friend
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

After Haiti: A Conversation with John Perkins

History to Obama: Yes, we have made war on democracies

What the FBI Knows: For Bruce Ivins and For Us

Is Freedom's Watch PNAC in Populist Drag?

I Can't Believe It's Not Human Rights Watch!

To Mr. Obama From His Newly Gay Constituents

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
13 people are discussing this page, with 32 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

Ok, so you are upset about Rick Warren. The gay co... by Linda Bailey on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 6:47:01 AM
to deny civil rights to your fellow citizens is no... by Elizabeth Ferrari on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 2:06:44 PM
Elizabeth, I can understand your knee jerk reactio... by Linda Bailey on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 8:54:42 AM
I  did not intend to post the above resp... by Linda Bailey on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 9:05:07 AM
We voted for change not more of the same and put a... by Janiece Senn on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 9:36:48 AM
You said, ""Your a bigot and your type n... by E. Nelson on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 11:09:58 AM
Your contention that Obama isn't more of the s... by Mr M on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 2:11:12 PM
to opposing views is not a bad thing.  But re... by Helen on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 3:06:11 PM
Mr. M. I realize alot of the Libertarians, that te... by E. Nelson on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 4:50:28 PM
When I say more of the same it had nothing to do w... by Janiece Senn on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 8:43:48 PM
Janiese here's a little summery of one of MR O... by MARGARET BASET on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 5:24:41 AM
The article is one sided and doesn't even spea... by Janiece Senn on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 10:57:34 AM
I wish I did live in a cave and was blissfully una... by Janiece Senn on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 9:00:40 PM
This is not fundamentally a controversy about gay ... by Elizabeth Ferrari on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 3:41:06 PM
Mr. Nelson for your support. Elizabeth did indeed ... by Linda Bailey on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 9:01:53 AM
Mr. Nelso, for your support. I appreciate it!... by Linda Bailey on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 9:15:04 AM
and he's pretty hot.  I'll try to hop... by Janiece Senn on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 8:20:40 PM
Ms. Senn,, I can understand your knee jerk reactio... by Linda Bailey on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 9:07:39 AM
Someone reflected to me recently that the invocati... by ladyguru on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 2:46:26 PM
seeks to deny the human dignity of so many?Conside... by Elizabeth Ferrari on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 4:11:40 PM
Let these people have their constitutional rights ... by Janiece Senn on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 12:43:00 AM
He missed the mark with Warren - it has been a div... by Carol Dagg on Wednesday, Dec 24, 2008 at 4:33:31 PM
click here It can still be found cached. ... by Elizabeth Ferrari on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 4:57:33 PM
But being against human rights sounds harsh to me ... by Janiece Senn on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 7:25:11 PM
It would have been better if you had done a little... by Bill Samuel on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 7:28:36 PM
he tells his congregation to have sex and plenty o... by Janiece Senn on Monday, Dec 22, 2008 at 8:30:13 PM
You might avail yourself of the interviews posted ... by Elizabeth Ferrari on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 6:37:21 PM
There are a lot of minorities who worked hard and ... by Matthew Peters on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 2:32:44 AM
He's sending the message that since Sen. Wells... by ClearEye on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 6:01:41 AM
Warren's predecessors were anti black and whit... by shirley reese on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 9:55:47 AM
Please except my appoligy for telling you to shut ... by Janiece Senn on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 11:22:12 AM
No problem, .............. by Linda Bailey on Tuesday, Dec 23, 2008 at 4:14:06 PM