Waymon Hudson

Does the LGBT Community Need New Thinking for a New President?

Filed By Waymon Hudson | January 19, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Barack Obama, Dick Cheney, gay rights, Gene Robinson, George W. Bush, inauguration invocation, Rick Warren

I'll be the first to admit that after 8 years of horrendous Bush policies and many more years of seeing our community sacrificed on the altar of politics, I have grown cynical and combative. After so much betrayal, demonization, and denigration forced on LGBT people by political forces, I and many others like me are quick to write off people after they act against the interest of our community and other equality-minded Americans.

But have we been trained to be so defensive that we have become close-minded ourselves? Do we need to find a new way of acting and reacting now that we have a new President, one that may be our ally on some issues and need our prodding on others?

Do we need new thinking for a new President?

Now, make no mistake, I am not saying we need to remain silent or "get over" things that hurt our community like some suggest. Inviting Rick Warren to pray at the inauguration, for example, was wrong and horrendous slap in the face by Obama. The outcry from our community and our allies (and from every person who looked at what Warren stands for and says) was well deserved.

Yet he also is making other moves that deserve our support. Having openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson at the inauguration, including our families in the festivities, speaking openly about repealing DADT, and appointing LGBT people to important positions in government are all acts that deserve our support and encouragement.

If we move to quickly to write Obama off as not caring about our community or some other equally hyperbolic statement, we risk pushing ourselves further outside the discussion.

I know I am used to seeing the actions of Bush, Cheney, Warren, Falwell, or Dobson and writing them off as unreachable. They know what they think about us and will never even entertain a real conversation about equality on any level. But I think that attitude has colored how I reacted to Obama and the Warren choice, or the fact he doesn't have any openly LGBT people in his cabinet.

I saw bad actions and started to write him off as "more of the same."

But perhaps we need to rethink our tactics a bit. Yes, we will hold his feet to the fire on bad decisions or on promises made to us. But we also need to support the good moments and actions. We might need to truly judge Obama and his administration by each action, and react accordingly, not paint them with one broad "traitor" stroke.

We need to fight the issues and not make the person the focus of our anger.

Perhaps we should think of this new era like how we think of our personal relationships. With our enemies or rivals in real life, we do everything we can to gain the upper hand. But with our friends we operate a little differently. We support their good decisions and actions, but are brutally honest when they make mistakes- and work to find ways to make the mistake right.

Yes, it may hurt when our friends do bad things, but at least we can tell it like it is on the subject at hand and work to correct it or make sure it doesn't happen again. We can work on the issue without destroying the relationship.

I'm willing to work on our relationship with Obama. There may be times I get mad and make him sleep on the couch, but eventually, hopefully, we can talk it out.

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I think this is very....nice....but, I'm also concerned that maybe you still have a fever.

Certainly an awareness of cynicism and how it can be destructive, is helpful. Self awareness is always beneficial. But do not forget the causes of the cynicism and allow bad behavior because it could always be worse.

Extending the argument that we have to vote for a Democrat because the Republicans are worse into the new term is pointless and it completely disregards what we have learned from American history.

We have every reason in the world to mistrust politicians - Democrats in particular because they proclaim to be our friends, yet their actions seldom meet their promises - and we have absolute responsibility to demand their attention when we see it is lacking.

No one else will do this for us. There are many - FAR TOO MANY - apologists among us. We need to balance the scales and accumulate more people willing to make demands of our government officials in order to see real results. Our competition for the attention comes from well connected, high finance types. We have to work twice as hard to get their attention.

Yeah Waymon, I think we do. I think though that our vision has to be longer than issue by issue or action by action.

While I agree with you that we shouldn't just "get over it" on some issues, we should refrain from beating dead horses.

I also think we need to do better job of understanding and speaking the language of those who disagree with us. Establishment clause or no, culturally America is a religious nation. It has been that way for the last 200 years and I don't expect much of a change in the next 200 years. We need to do a better job of operating within that reality.

Yes, we do. Running a defensive game is much different than taking an offensive position. We need to adapt to the new playing field.

I don't think we should be needlessly combative, but to be blunt, Obama hasn't given us much reason to believe he'll be the "fierce defender" that he's claimed to be.

I voted for Obama and I have hope that we'll pass some major milestones in the next few years. But I also think we would be wise to remember that Obama's support of our cause is one of political consideration. As he showed with the invocation mess, when deciding whether to support us or extend an olive branch to the Religious Right, he'll choose them.

Our only reasonable course of action (Look at me being all declarative!) is to continue to remind President Obama of his commitment not to the LGBT community, but to the cause of justice and the equality of all Americans.

And you're right, Waymon, that is a different way of addressing the president than we've had to use with GWB. With GWB opposition was a foregone conclusion. With Obama, it's only a possibility.

Activists are going to have to be patient. I cannot speak for the gay or lesbian communities, but let me tell you that T people are the most impetuous and impatient activists you will work with, as some have seen around here. The conclusion jump is the official aerobic exercise of the T community, that is for certain. I've seen it happen dozens of times.

If anyone read Gene Robinson's prayer, or heard it on youtube, you can gain a sense of what Barack Obama faces. George Bush, in all his complete incompetence, is leaving Obama a million issues to immediately face. The issues will, for the most part, be facing Congressional debate. I have no doubt that Obama will sign ENDA, hate crimes, repeal of DADT, and even DOMA repeal by the end of a first term, but keep in mind, everyone, that we have 2 ongoing wars and an economy in shambles right now. Patience and a light touch will be needed to win.

Well you may be the only one who did...hear it that is. Not only did the PIC force HBO to not show the Invocation, by setting the starting time for the show after the Invocation. But DURING the Invocation I understand all the speakers on the Mall were OFF!
Another Marianne Anderson tech snafu!
The Wingnuts loved it!...can still hear them chuckling.

So, Sorry, Waymon et al I have very very little hope BHO will help GLBT's and their families, and children and friends at all.
He has been given a list of policy changes and moves he can make that require no outside legislative or other input...we'll just see if he does any of them.

So far he and his team are batting ZERO in my book...no matter how many times he says Gay and Straight.

"Batting zero??!!" He hasn't been up to bat yet, damnit. The prelude to tomorrow was nothing more than a virus on a nat's ass compared to the next 4 years. Gees. Let's get some perspective, shall we? It's like judging Shakespeare's future writings on the first words he wrote in kindergarden.

"But have we been trained to be so defensive that we have become close-minded ourselves?"

YES! YES! YES! It is exactly what I've been screaming about every since the stupid Warren issue set off the tempest in the teapot. Waymon, you figured it out (finally.) I wonder how many decades it will take for others to figure it out.

I also think we need to do better job of understanding and speaking the language of those who disagree with us.

Very well put, and it bears repeating.

I will add to it, not everyone who disagrees with us is an enemy. I'm old enough that the other day when I was reading this blog, I started humming to myself: "There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy, there's only you and me and we just disagree."

Oh Robert...I think you are right.

I will adopt the words of Rick Warren and henceforth call myself a pedophile and will consider my relationship with my husband to be incest.

Maybe I should agree with or at the very least listen to that bullshit more often and then I can feel as secure as you and Monica.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

good little monkeys....

And, yours? "Speak only evil?" Straight from the Religious Right play book.

Bananas anyone?

I cannot believe you had the nerve to refer to another human being as a monkey. Shame on you. Haters use terms like that dehumanize. What a great way to perpetuate intolerance, infer that someone who disagrees with you is not human.

I agree with that as well. We can't just write off every single person who doesn't put LGBTQ priorities first (or even make them priority for that matter). We need to speak with those who disagree with us on a level that they can understand and relate to.

We can't turn our backs on everyone, and we certainly can't turn out backs on Obama just because of his choice of Rick Warren. If we speak out and hold people accountable for their actions, then their wrongs can cause a greater affect.

Well, we've gotten through the prelims and now the game begins.

Yes, the prelims were frustrating and disappointing, but we start from today.

The President elect(few more hours) says that he will be the most pro-gay President in history. Let's take him at his word, but let's also hold his feet to the fire a bit, and do our part to keep our issues on front burners, patrtially through protests to remind people that we are not happy, not equal, and waiting a bit less patiently

Bush, etc., were brick walls on these issues, and Obama probably won't be. Whether he's an ally or not on our issues is neither here nor there. We're going to have to raise a ruckus if we want him to do anything, no matter his personal feelings on the topic, because he won't be acting alone (yeah, we're still stuck with mostly the same Congress).

But, I wonder, why is the expression "threw X under the bus" played but "hold his/her feet to the fire" isn't? I think the latter has been used far more often, and I think that expressions that center around buses should have a longer shelf-life than those that center around feet. Maybe because I have issues about the latter....

Oh Alex how dare you compare the feet of people to buses. That is dehumanizing. Don't say this! Do say that! Ouch that hurts!

Sunny side up!!