Sunday, December 21, 2008

Obama disappoints

News from the US is that Barack Obama has chosen Rick Warren (evangelical right wing pastor who has compared same-sex marriage to pedophilia and incest and actively camapaigned in favour of Proposition 8 in California) to give the invocation or prayer at his inauguration.

The prayer will probably last 60 seconds and say nice heart warming things but the sense of sadness and loss that the inauguration itself (for Americans the inauguration is a really big deal like a combination of the State Opening of Parliament and the finals of Strictly and X factor all combined) will not be a truly inclusive event that all Americans (and onlookers all over the world) can feel a part of.

I am sure that Obama's tenure in office will witness some important social and legislative changes, many of them with his blessing and possibly even at his bidding. But this really isn't the way to start your Presidency, by casting LGBT people as outsiders whose feelings don't really matter, while at the same time giving the evangelical right some prime time promo.

For LGBT equality we seem to be quickly moving from the audacity of hope to the anatomy of despair.

Now, as I said, this is a 60 second prayer that will soon be over. But one reflects that there's only one invocation and this is who Obama chose for it.

If any American gets to read this blog (not very likely in itself but you never know) my advice is to treat Obama in the same way we treated Tony Blair who did great things for LGBT rights in the UK. He did however need to be pushed, cajoled, manipulated and persuaded using allies and supporters inside and outside the Cabinet.

Yes, of course we all crave a leader who 'gets it' and instinctively does the right thing. We don't often get that and have to work with what we're given - which if we're lucky is someone whose heart is basically in the right place but still needs pressure and encouragement to do the right thing.

I think (until persuaded to the contrary) that Obama'selection was a good thing, for many different reasons. It would be great if electing Obama was all there was to do and we can take a well earned rest now. The right leaders are usually the ones who are open to social movements to advance their causes and move opinion - they (we) still have to do a lot of the work themselves.

(Oh yes, and I secretly hope for some good ol' fashioned protestin' at the inauguration).

1 comment:

  1. Although my blog on this topic is much more scathing than yours, I agree that Obama cast us out by picking Warren. If he truly understands that people are going to have conflicting opinions on gay rights, why didn't he choose a gay-friendly pastor or someone who isn't as politicized as Rick Warren? It seems Obama would rather win the approval of conservative Democrats than liberal ones. Definitely a stab in the back.