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Why Obama's Rick Warren Homophobic Slap Matters To Heteros

What a disappointing reaction to the Rick Warren controversy we’re seeing from so many Democrats: They roll their eyes and ask, So what if gays are unhappy with Rick Warren? Can’t they just let us have our moment in the sun? Why do they always have to make a mountain out a molehill?

These same Democrats then turn around and tell us how important it is for the Democratic Party to be inclusive, and show respect to fundamentalist Christians. Why can’t we just agree to disagree, and come together in spite of our differences?

These are questions that deserve answers – not because they’re good questions, but rather, because they’re dismissive, arrogant, insulting questions. Those of us who believe that the Constitution means what it says when it dictates that there must be equality under the law for all Americans cannot just agree to disagree with people who insist that the Constitution does not guarantee equality under the law. We believe that if the President of the United States embrace those who seek to perpetuate inequality in the system of law, that it’s… shock… gasp… a betrayal of trust and the violation of the Oath of Office.

It’s easy to discount this issue as just a molehill – if it’s not your legal rights on the line. If you’re not one of the thousands of married couples that Rick Warren has fought to break apart, and if you don’t belong to their social group, then it’s an easy matter to dismiss. Oh, equality for gays, you may say, is just a fringe issue.

Well, the truth is that I’m not homosexual. I’m hetero. Still, I don’t think that equality for homosexual Americans is a fringe issue at all. I think that it goes to the heart of what we should expect a President to do. The way I see it, Barack Obama’s decision to grant anti-gay bigot Rick Warren a place of special honor at the Inauguration is a fundamental moral issue.

The best way to judge the character of powerful people is to see the way that they treat people who don’t have power. The best way to judge the character of popular people is to see the way that they treat unpopular people.

Christians are an extremely popular group in the United States. Christian fundamentalists in particular are a very politically powerful group. Homosexuals, on the other hand, are neither popular nor powerful.

Barack Obama, right now, is about as popular and powerful as any human being could hope to be. So, how has Obama chosen to use his power and popularity? Who has he decided to stand with? Well, Obama’s in with the in crowd now, and so he’s chosen to stand with them. He’s gone to stand with the popular and powerful. He’s gone to stand with Rick Warren and his Christian fundamentalist ilk. Obama has chosen not to stand with homosexual Americans.

Barack Obama’s slap in the face to homosexual couples in America is an indicator of the way we can expect the Obama White House to treat unpopular minorities who don’t have political power. Instead of protecting them, he will join with those who persecute them.

It’s a disappointing lesson: Unless your group is popular or politically powerful, you shouldn’t expect anything from the Obama presidency. Real change isn’t going to come just by giving favors to the popular and powerful.

If you’re one of those Democrats who follows along with the popular and powerful groups in American culture, this may not seem like a big deal to you. If, on the other hand, you’re one of those Democrats who still believes that the Constitution should apply to all people, regardless of popularity or power, you’ll understand that the special honoring of Rick Warren by Barack Obama is a very big deal, even if you’re not homosexual yourself.

The shame of it is that the latter kind of Democrat appears to be suddenly growing very rare indeed. Far too many Democrats, rank and file as well as D.C. insiders, have become so flushed with the thrill of being popular and powerful again that they, like Barack Obama, have cast aside their allegiance to the Constitution and its vision of equality for all. Now that they’re feeling on top of the heap, they are excusing the very kind of arrogance they would have castigated, if it had come from a Republican politician.

These Democrats treat politics like a team sport, rather than the system for upholding freedom that it is. They are superficial and vain, and they have no cause to be proud of the change they are bringing to America.

19 comments to Why Obama's Rick Warren Homophobic Slap Matters To Heteros

  • Voltaire

    Answer this: where do Rights come from and how do we distinguish a Civil Right from a Civil Liberty?

    Or the difference of Right vs. Needs… I need a home, but do I have a Right to demand that one be provided me, with out effort on my part? I do however have the Right to demand that I be accorded the same equality as others when purchasing a house.

    What is the difference between a Right and a Privilege? And sometimes the answer isn’t so obvious. For example in California, diving a car is a privilege not a Right.

    What makes Marriage a Right? You are obtaining a Marriage License and as such there must be condition for the license. Like it or not. To get a License for building a house,you must meet the strict zoning requirements that are part of the approval process.

    Someone attempting to build a warehouse in an residential area would be declined.

    for a wedding license the requirements are that the applicant be..1) over a certain age 2) be single 3) be of opposite sexes.

    Forget about all emotional issues and stick to the facts. A Marriage License is a Licence, not a Right, or at least not a unlimited Right.

  • Ralph

    The semantics of “right,” “liberty,” and “privilege” are irrelevant. “Treatment under the law” subsumes all of these in the context of government recognition of gay marriage.

    Unequal treatment of a person under the law by the government on the basis of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation is ethically wrong and runs counter the the American values of freedom, equality and justice for all.

    This holds under the examples you raised: housing and automobile licenses. If someone is denied an automobile license because they are black, it is ethically wrong and unAmerican. If someone is denied a building permit because they are a woman, it is ethically wrong and unAmerican. If someone is denied a marriage license because they are gay, it is ethically wrong and unAmerican.

    Your question is much more informative if we consider it in the reverse: How do YOU think government SHOULD treat people unequally on the basis of gender, race, religious identity or sexual orientation? And why?

  • len

    Since the problem seems to lie in the fact that sexual orientation is considered a choice to many Americans, I think we should vote on them. We can have both sides present their case, hold an election, and then the decision can be based on a majority of the people. You know, democracy in action.

    Wait, isn’t that what we already did?

    Now I’m out of ideas.

    • On matters of constitutional rights, len, there isn’t the option of holding an election about whether to respect them. You can’t just have a state proposition on whether to allow slavery, for example, because slavery is forbidden by the Constitution. If you want to undo the equal protection clause in the Constitution, then you have to pass a constitutional amendment.

      Yes, len, you’re out of ideas.

    • Ralph

      Whether or not sexual orientation is a “choice” is irrelevant to the issue of equal treatment by government under the law.

      Religion is a choice, but it does not follow that it is ethical, constitutional, or consistent with the American values of freedom and equality to deny someone equal treatment under the law on the basis of any religious choice that person may or may not have made.

      len, I would be curious to hear about the day you chose your sexual orientation. I can’t seem to remember choosing mine…

  • Voltaire

    Ralph I don’t see your analogy as being a good representation.

    In a permit to build a house the type of structure is relevant to the permit process. Who builds it would be outside the germane. So if a homosexual wanted to build a Factory in a residential area, turning down the permit would not be ethically wrong. However if the Homosexual wanted to build a home in a residential area and it was turned down. That would be discrimination.

    Part of the condition of obtaining a license is to meet the conditions required for the license.
    Why does you problem stop with Gay marriage? Wouldn’t it also be your concern to protect polygamy, bigamy?

    • Jim

      Just like how marriage is between two people of the same race. I mean, it’s just part of the conditions required for the license. At least, it was until the Loving case before the Supreme Court. Uppity bastards, huh?

    • Ralph

      So the government should deny equal treatment under the law to people on the basis of race, gender, religion and sexual orientation when it is not “outside the germane?”

      Pretty weak argument really. Who gets to decide what is and is not inside the “germane?”

      Suppose a law were passed by a democratic proposition vote denying women building licenses. Women would be denied building licenses because they did not “meet the conditions required for the license.” Those conditions would have been given the status of law according to the “will of the voters.” Would that be OK with you then?

  • Voltaire

    I find the concept of condescension toward the beliefs of people in the past interesting. Somehow we believe that we are so superior to those people, and that their beliefs were so obviously incorrect. After all we are so very technologically superior, we have computers, cell phones, all the modern conveniences.

    Although most of us couldn’t put together a cell phone from the parts, let alone invent one.

    I don’t think that mixed marriages are any of the governments business. As a matter of fact I think that the Government has no business in most of our affairs. But people are allowed to have their personal feelings towards that issue. I may not agree…but I say live and let live.

    Many of our taboos are the result of ignorance, some however are what I call tribal knowledge. That information that has been handed down generation to generation and serves to protects from the consequences of certain behavior. The exact nature of which may not be apparent.

    Incest may be a fair example of that.

    I think Jim that it most be wonderful to have such a sense of intellectual superiority to those around you. To feel such distain for the little people and their small ideas. I myself am not quite as sure. I understand that most of us don’t like to have the opinions of other pushed upon us. But that goes both ways. It is easy to see the opinions of other as ignorance or perversion. However that really just dehumanizes both parties. People do have differences in their views of the world. Different views that aren’t necessarily both exclusive. I think that that is why we live in a country of states. Where the different flavors of life can be expressed and cherished. I think Federalism has to some extent destroyed that ability.

    You have a vision of how you want to see the world. One that you think is fair and morally right. It should come as no surprise to you that other also have a vision, and that that vision is at odd with yours. It is easy to see people with different moral codes as ignorant or somehow evil. But that perception just serves to polarized the issue into dualities that may then be irreconcilable.

    Maybe a compromise that addresses the needs and fears of both sides could be worked out. But that won’t happen until we begin to see past others ideas into the humanity that we all share

    • Voltaire, would you have suggested a compromise between the needs and fears of both sides when it came to the anti-miscegenation issue? Would you have suggested that African-Americans and European-Americans compromise their rights, for the sake of the fears of others? They were in violation of the license terms in their states – and you’ve suggested that’s a valid reason for denying marriage rights.

    • Jim

      Don’t play “oh, you’re an intellectual snob” games to evade the problems in your argument. Assessing an argument is not snobbery. We live in a constitutional form of government under which by the 14th amendment states are forbidden to treat people unequally under the law. Finally, if you really mean what you say when you write “Live and let live,” then apply it to gay people, too.

  • Voltaire

    Yep like I said intellectual zealots. Zealots never look for compromise, because they are THE only ones who are right.

    “Assessing an argument is not snobbery.”

    No, but the method of your presentation is!

    The problem with the gay issue is similar to those women in the seventies through nineties, that thought that having clubs solely for men was an affront to equality.

    You are a little confused Jim. The 14th amendment provides for equal protection under the law, not special treatment. Marriage is and always was a way to confer legitimacy and legal standing to the offspring. Hench the term Poor Bastard.

    There is very little likelihood that Gays are going to produce natural children. They may however adopt them and though that adoption decree certify the relationship to the adopted child.
    As much noise as has been made about Gays being denied their rights… I have never been asked by hospital staff to legally prove my relationship to anyone I ever visited.

    The 14th amendment has been used to justify many thing that it was not originally intended for, like anchor babies.

    • I appreciate the term reality-based, Voltaire. We do care about reality.

    • Jim

      I didn’t say I am the only one who is right. I said you are wrong. Stop conflating yourself with the universe.

      I’m rude. So fuck me with a brush while I raise my pinky to the spirit of elevated discourse.

      I’m not confused. By your logic, sterile couples should not be allowed to be married. Yet they are.

      Gay people have been denied visitation rights, inheritance rights, tax benefits, health care decision-making abilities and other legal rights of spouses, which marriage has also long been about, but which you blithely ignore.

      Coming from someone who is spouting the language of people who want to strip away the citizenship of American-born babies, I’m not surprised.

  • Highfalutin' Fancypants

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    So is marriage also a Right? Perhaps not constitutionally, though we give certain status and considerations to married couples that we do not to unmarried individuals. In matters of justice and equality I think the Declaration of Independence is a worthy guide, mindful of historical context, to the American ideal. One might argue marriage is not implicit within “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”, but lacking a “Master List of Inalienable Rights” to overrule me, I say it is self-evident that the Right to Marry should be “among these” inalienable Rights.

    People that aren’t afraid of science and are passingly familiar with research on homosexuality are likely to know that evidence points overwhelmingly to homosexuality as a biological imperative. No body of science calls it a choice, let alone a perversion. To the extent that the natural heterosexual impulse is toward union to greater and lesser degrees – the greater being for a long term commitment that society recognizes as marriage if so sought, even if no intent to procreate is behind it or results from it – one concludes that the natural homosexual impulse toward union should be the same.

    If Marriage is a self-evident inalienable Right, if best evidence shows that homosexuality is as natural to the homosexual as heterosexuality is to the heterosexual, and if society and its laws make no requirement of procreation in granting legal marriage recognition, then I believe that the law should recognize and treat homosexual marriages exactly as heterosexual marriages. For these reasons I believe that this a civil rights issue. Homosexuals in America are treated unjustly insofar as any law denies them the right to join in marriage and be recognized with the same status and benefits as heterosexuals enjoy.

    Though I think it is worth considering whether the government should be in the business of licensing marriage at all. The religious professionals that

    oppose homosexual marriage always say that God intends marriage to be between a man and a woman, that God ordained the institution of marriage,

    etc. The majority of marriages are performed with religious symbolism by clergy who must be licensed by their state if the marriage is to be officially

    recognized by all levels of government.

    I know that if an idea comes from the French it is automatically ridiculed in this country and invariably dismissed with a joke or a boisterous remark

    about how we saved their asses in the war (though precious few remain of any American who actually fought to help the French, but I digress…). Aside

    from this being an unfortunate “ugly American” trait, it also precludes us from intelligently evaluating what might be beneficial for American society.

    In 2004 the French enacted a civil union law that I think could serve as a model for America …)

    something that cannot be differentit becomes an unalienable Right. For this reason I believe that the law should recognize and treat homosexual

    marriages exactly as heterosexual marriages.

    Though I think it is worth considering whether the government should be in the business of licensing marriage at all. The religious professionals that

    oppose homosexual marriage always say that God intends marriage to be between a man and a woman, that God ordained the institution of marriage,

    etc. The majority of marriages are performed with religious symbolism by clergy who must be licensed by their state if the marriage is to be officially

    recognized by all levels of government.

    I know that if an idea comes from the French it is automatically ridiculed in this country and invariably dismissed with a joke or a boisterous remark about how we saved their asses in the war (though precious few remain of any American who actually fought to help the French, but I digress…). Aside from this being an unfortunate “ugly American” trait, it also precludes us from intelligently evaluating what might be beneficial for American society.

    In 2004 the French enacted a civil union law that I think could serve as a model for America (…)

  • Voltaire

    Wow Jim the pinky thing is really a turn on. But I think the brush is already stuck there. it isn’t my logic that involved here, it’s your lack of.

    What I want is a set rules that are going to live by and stick to them, not just do whatever we decide we may get away with.
    And as for the comment about babies…. I just think that when you use your geographic proximity to do what million of others in the world would like to, but cannot do, it’s wrong. Apparently your a racist that believes only Mexicans should be allowed unfettered entry into the US. What about the poor guy with his family in Burma, Niger, India, or a thousand other places that would love to come here, but can’t just run across the border to get here. Oh I forgot they aren’t a protected class.

  • Voltaire

    Fancy pants

    I think you are right! But don’t tell Jim, the brush might fall out……

  • Voltaire

    Jim, they do have medicine for your “condition” and the stigma of “Needing Help” is gone…..

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