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On Obama, the Hate-Filled Pastor, and Unity

The progressive and GLBT communites are up in arms over President-elect Obama's decision to have antigay, right-wing Christian evangelical preacher Rick Warren deliver his inaugural invocation. I share their dismay to be sure, but you know, whatever. Chalk Obama's decision up to his move to try and create a landscape that appears to include everyone, including the Religious Wrong.

Barack Obama and Rick Warren

Barack Obama and Rick Warren

He will be president of all full citizens, so I understand what he's doing and why. Progressives moaning about the Warren choice should relax. Face it, gang, fundamentalists are part of the American tapestry and deserve representation. Instead of crying, worry about winning equality, not who gets to pray on national TV on Jan. 20.

The real problem here is that Obama and the nation expects those of us who are unequal under law to consider ourselves part of this amalgamation of national "unity." Were I equal, I would be all for joining hands and singing Kum-Ba-Ya with my political opponents. But I am not, and full citizens like Obama (who doesn't believe in true marriage equality) and Warren want to keep the status quo.

Do we the condemned have a duty to make nice with those who condemn us? If they are bleeding in the street, yes. For them to expect loyalty and service and tax payments and unity from those whose lives and families they devalue, though, is unrealistic and insulting. As far as this second-class American is concerned, their wish is -- like my never-ending quest for full equality -- an impossible dream.
So count me out of this mass show of faux unity. I will skip the inaugural coverage -- not because of Rick Warren, but because the event has nothing that interests me. Warren is a vile spokesperson for the Almighty, in my opinion, but he likely will give an inoffensive prayer (although the notion of a secular nation having an invocation at all is offensive enough), so that isn't an important concern. But let's be honest: Until there is equality under law for all, those not equal are already excluded in the ways that really matter. So why should I pay any attention to it at all? Why would I consider myself part of the hoo-hah?

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Let those who are equal be unified and celebrate. For me, there is no reason to do so. When I am a full citizen like Barack Obama and Rick Warren, and the legal stigmatization that burdens GLBT Americans is lifted, then we can talk. For the present, however, I remain a person without a country.


Natalie Davis

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