Monday, December 22, 2008

An All-Inclusive Trip to Washington D.C.

Much ado is being made about the fact that Pastor Rick Warren is speaking at President-elect Obama's inauguration. Warren has long been vehemently opposed to gay rights, and homosexuality in general. Cries from gay and lesbian Americans, and those who support them, are being heard far and wide. 'How could Obama, who claims to be a supporter of gay rights (albeit not marriage, for some reason) invite someone to his inaugural podium who expresses such contrasting views?'

REALLY?!?! Have you NOT been paying attention?!?

Obama has always been about Americans coming together; all Americans. His clearly-stated message is that we can make great strides by concentrating on our common beliefs, rather than our differences. Isn't that the very mantra that rallied millions to campaign so hard for him in the first place?

We're all a bit tired of hearing about partisanship and "politics as usual". These, however, are valid euphemisms for the way past administrations have played the games of favoritism and exclusion. Seldom would either party concede that the other had any valid points when it wasn't necessary or self-serving. That's old-school politics at it's worst; the party in power gets the voice in government, and the other gets to gripe about it on TV news and talk shows. Now, Obama is changing that, as promised - and you're surprised?

One of my favorite, infinitely-quotable people, the late Thomas Paine, said it best, "He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will extend to himself."

The 'we' in 'yes we can' is bigger than just dems, or even liberals. For once, it seems, a president is actually intent on serving an entire nation. If you have a problem with that, I'm afraid you may be in for a bumpy ride for the next four least.


Tammy Howard said...

Thank you for this. It is difficult, when teaching inclusion, to remember to include people with whom you do not agree. Obama is practicing what he preaches and I join you in commending him for it. Don't get me wrong. The anti-gay sentiments do make me very squirmy. Very squirmy indeed. But you're right. The best way to gain the respect of people who believe differently than you do is to offer them respect first. I think that was sort of what you were saying, anyway. The gay rights movement is going to have to struggle - as the civil rights movement and the woman's rights movement before it had to struggle. It's stupid, and it's not fair, but it's so.

Tammy Howard said...

That being said, I'm still not sure I agree with giving hate a platform...

Bass Is Life said...

I understand Obama's argument about inclusion, just as I understand the resentment of the GLBT community. You can't deny the humanitarian work Warren has done, but there are others who've done similar work without the hateful comments.

Of course, this all leads me to point out that this would not be an issue at all if we didn't have prayers as part of the Inauguration ceremony. Not surprisingly, prayers were not originally part of the ceremony. That didn't start until 1937 with FDR, who also solidified the usage of the term "so help me God".

If there were truly a separation of church and state, none of this would be an issue. There are no non-religious arguments against gay marriage.

Shannon Baskind said...

Thank you both for your comments!

I agree that giving hate a platform is never a good idea. I'm hopeful, though, that offering Warren a platform at one of the most noteworthy events in our country's history will prompt him to temper his commentary. (Not that doing so would excuse his past comments, or change his core beliefs.)

I also agree that separation of church and state is essential, though I'm much more concerned about religion coming into play when it comes to policy and law. I believe the real purpose of the swearing-in ceremony is for the president elect to clearly state his intentions to execute his duties with the best interest of the U.S. in mind. If swearing on a bible is meaningful to the electee, then I do not mind it so much. After all, it is his personal commitment, and should be meaningful to him, regardless of what it means to others.