While LGBT activists and bloggers were up in arms and screaming bloody murder over the Obama campaign inclusion of
ex-gay re-closeted and anti-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin at a campaign event in South Carolina, anti-gay judge Leslie Southwick was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
While it may be necessary to point out to the Obama campaign that McClurkin's presence is insulting and not fitting with Barack's message of a new kind of politics, its far more important to remain focused on what's going to have the bigger impact on our fight for LGBT civil rights.
As Libby Post points in an op ed on PageOneQ:
Unfortunately, our myopic perspective may just leave us with a federal judiciary that will have a much more negative impact on our future than whether or not Donnie McClurkin sings Obama's praises in the south.
The confirmation of Leslie Southwick is just one more notch in the belt of the neo-conservative mission of making a strict constructionist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution the rule rather than the exception.
This effort didn't start with Southwick's nomination. It's been going on for decades. Former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Bill Bradley detailed how well the conservative right has laid a foundation for its political sea change in a March 30, 2005 New York Times op ed piece entitled, A Party Inverted.
Bradley explained that in the 1970's and 80's, the Republican Party and their neo-conservative brethren built a strong base of foundations and think tanks to support their candidates and their socially conservative initiatives. The goal was to change the face of our elected officials from those who represent the people to those who represent their interests—all done with a folksy populism that fooled the electorate into thinking they were voting for the guy or girl next door. The down home, aw shucks, I’m just a regular guy persona of George Bush during the 2000 election was the cynical electoral culmination of this political tom foolery.
This isn't the first time that LGBT activists have allowed themselves to miss the larger vision of the equality while mesmerized by a single tree. A perfect example is the groundswell of grassroots organizing that came into being after the House leadership said that gender identity would be removed from ENDA because it lacked the votes for passage. Where was that kind of interest and passion when it really would have made a difference? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last December that she would be holding hearings and a vote on the trans-inclusive ENDA and rather than mount an intense grassroots lobbying effort then, many activists and some of the national organizations could not be bothered.
If we are ever going to move forward politically, we are going to have be smarter, more effective and less willing to allow ourselves to be distracted by seemingly urgent, but ultimately unimportant distractions.