FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Invoking Bigotry

by NORM KENT

It is my obligation as the publisher of a national gay newspaper to weigh in on the President-Elect’s selection of Pastor Rick Warren to deliver an invocation at his inauguration. This is change we can’t believe in.

As a spokesperson for the gay community, I want to make it clear that I find it offensive.

Mr. Obama is not being inclusive and ‘post-partisan.’ He is being divisive. He is ‘swift boating’ us. After Jeremiah Wright, you have to wonder about his selections for Divine Guidance.

As an individual, I don’t give a damn who gives the invocation at the inauguration, because that is not the speech I want to hear. Besides, between the fires in California, earthquakes in China, and that tsunami in the Far East, God’s been doing a lousy job lately. That does not mean I am an atheist. I just believe what Woody Allen said in one of his films: “If there is a God, he is an underachiever.” Or maybe She.

Mr. Obama thinks he can move the needle and bring us all together in a unified effort for a common purpose. He sees an America where I can walk hand in hand with my partner down the aisle, and Reverend Pat Robertson will marry us. I think maybe our President Elect has a little too much of Harvard in him. I agree with Congressman Barney Frank. Some of these people will never be our friends. We are just always going to agree to disagree. If we can do so respectfully, that is great. But I don’t have to invite as the best man to my wedding a pastor who would not marry me to my partner.

Abraham Lincoln once said the best way to defeat an enemy is to make him your friend, and Mr. Obama is a strong believer in Mr. Lincoln. In fact, it was revealed today that he will be sworn in on the Lincoln Bible. Mr. Obama said his invitation to Pastor Warren does not compromise his ‘fierce’ support of gay rights. Good, then let’s not expend to much political capital on his decision to have Warren at his swearing in. Let’s understand that Mr. Obama is the President of all the people, including those we do not agree with. I sympathize with all that. I don’t have to agree with it though, and I won’t.

In fairness to Mr. Obama, and in fairness to Mr. Warren, they have met before and become friends. Mr. Warren in fact ran an AIDS conference two years ago at his church and made a point of inviting Mr. Obama to talk. He accepted, and it sparked an outcry amongst angry evangelical Republicans within his church. But Mr. Warren stood firm, arguing that both sides need to be heard, that it “takes two wings to fly.” So both men are building bridges, both men are reaching out, and both are to be applauded. Just don’t ask me to join in.  Call me unreasonable, but I don’t want half a hand.

One of the things I have learned in the civil rights movements is that you will continue to have adversaries. For every step forward we make, there will be those to push us back. For every partner we find, there is a Michael Savage nurturing hate against us. Unlike some activists whose comments I have been reading, I do not think gays have been thrown under the bus or that Mr. Obama has abandoned any promises yet. But I don’t intend to watch from the sidelines and give out free passes.

The pursuit of freedom is a relentless process which requires persistence. Yes, it demands patience, but not passivity. Oh, I remember all the well-intentioned persons who spoke vigorously against the gay marriage issue in 2004, saying we were pushing for too much too soon and too quickly. Where are they now?

Where are those voices of the status quo now that the Supreme Court of California has legalized same sex marriage?

Where are they now that Massachusetts and other states have also affirmed the principle that we can go beyond socially acceptable civil unions to permanently entrenched marriage declarations?

How many of those wimps wanted us not to push Lawrence vs. Texas to the Supreme Court, afraid we might get an adverse decision which would cripple forever the gay rights movement? When it comes to civil rights, there are no acceptable partial promises; no separate water fountains gays and lesbians have to drink from. Sometimes, it takes courts to mandate human rights political partisans will never provide for.

The Human Rights Campaign has given Mr. Obama a new agenda for 2009, saying it wants to ‘move on’ from the divisive issue of Pastor Warren. To his credit, the Pastor has posted on his own website an outreach to the gay community, saying that while he opposes gay marriages, he seeks to bridge our differences. That’s nice pastor, and it brings to mind all those nice Southern politicians who were willing to let Negroes ride the bus in the 1960’s, as long as they sat in the back.

I did not work all these years for a new America that is the same as the old America. I am not interested in appeasing evangelical Christians. I am interested in telling them to stop getting in our way. I am interested in letting them know there will be a price for racism, intolerance, and that just might be losing your place at the table this time.

My message to Mr. Obama is that there is going to be no ‘honeymoon’ either. The gay community in America has multiple voices and you can expect them to be heard. As this one instance with Pastor Warren shows, we won’t be quiet. Our voices want more than lip service. We seek action. The President Elect has an obligation to fulfill his commitment to support gay rights by initiating acts consonant with the same, from moving the equal rights non-discrimination legislation through Congress, to an executive order eliminating arbitrary exclusions of homosexuals from the armed forces of the United States of America.

Look, I know there is a political reality which mandates that a new President has to get his feet wet, be grounded, and move forward with a steadiness of purpose that is based on a sure foundation. That does not mean we have to compromise our desire to see equal rights initiatives delayed or postponed. Just because something is good for the President does not mean it is good for the rights of gays. The pressure must be kept up. I don’t see any Aryans on the inaugural dais.

To those of you who are already apologists for an invocation from a pastor, whose politics has been one of exclusion, shame on you. There are too many other men and women the President could have picked. He chose not to, and Rick Warren should not be on the inaugural platform any more than the President elect should have invited him.

NORM KENT is a criminal defense and constitutional rights Fort Lauderdale lawyer who can be reached at Norm@norrmkent.com

 

 

 

 

Norm Kent, a Fort Lauderdale attorney, is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of NORML.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians to the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
Rivera Sun
Accountability: An Abandoned American Value
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
Robert Koehler
The Heart of Order
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail