Tag Archives: LGBT Rights

Obama’s Rick Warren Mistake

Lefties are ignorant about religion, resulting in political mistakes of no small magnitude.

Like the lefties on the Huffington Post suggesting that we embrace what we have in common with Warren as a way of reaching out to religious conservatives. They cite Warren’s anti-poverty work, and his reverse tithing, as examples of what he has in common with us.

While I am in favor of coalition building– and really, who isn’t on the left?– there is a line, and Warren, a vocal prop 8 supporter? That crosses it.

Progressives have religious leaders too, and though I am an atheist, I have met many of them in my work in the Bay Area. People who sleep on the street for a week once a year to know what it feels like to be one of the homeless they serve every day, for example, lit with a fervor that puts my bleeding heart to shame. And who still support LGBT rights– full civil rights, not some piecemeal second-class bullshit– while they believe in god.

Why not put one of these faithful people forward in the inauguration? Upend the idea that piety falls neatly in line with hate, as it does for Warren? Only 30 percent of Americans are religious conservatives, we tend to forget. Lumping religious together with conservative, and mistaking religious for conservative, is a grave error.

Homophobia is intolerable. It is intolerable in and of itself, and in that it upholds a patriarchal system of gendered inequality that has been used to oppress women since the dawn of time. If progressive aren’t going to take a firm stand on this, then who will?

Invite Warren to an anti-poverty summit, along with the numerous other religious leaders who struggle against injustice every day, sans mega church resources. But to invite a proponent of hate to speak at an event that is supposed to represent a summit of a civil rights movement– that is unfathomable.

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More on Prop 8

Our frequent commentor Flyovermiss shared with me me something she’d posted privately elsewhere on the relationship between Prop 8 and the Obama victory, which I found particularly eloquent:

President-elect Obama listed us gay folk among his Americans in his victory speech last night, and the web tells me that’s a first for a president-elect. Since I knew I wasn’t one of Sarah Palin’s “real Americans”, it felt good to be named as such by the man overwhelmingly chosen by Americans to lead us into our future. It felt like possibility, like community, like openness and joy.

Today, looking at the results on Prop 8 in particular, those words feel like ashes in my mouth. The way the percentages work out, a substantial number of California voters went into the polls and said yes we can to Obama, and oh, no, you can’t to me and mine. I’ll be proud to remember the day that America chose Obama as president, but I am also stuck remembering that on that very day, even progressive Americans still denied me and others like me basic civil rights.

KC reminds me to see the positive, to trust the progressive momentum that Obama both represents and channels to bring good things for the GLBT community as well. Part of me thinks she’s right. Another part of me knows that the pall this casts over Obama’s victory, for me at least, can’t be ignored.

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Prop 8 Already in Court

A coalition of advocacy groups have filed a writ petition with the California Supreme Court, according to a press release issued by Equality California this morning.

The petition charges that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group – lesbian and gay Californians. Proposition 8 also improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities.


Writs are requests for an appellate court ruling on an issue before it goes to trial. I gather from the legal expert’s statements on the writ that appellate courts are not inclined to such boldness:

“Historically, courts are reluctant to get involved in disputes if they can avoid doing so,” said Shannon Minter, Legal Director of NCLR. “It is not uncommon for the court to wait to see what happens at the polls before considering these legal arguments. However, now that Prop 8 may pass, the courts will have to weigh in and we believe they will agree that Prop 8 should never have been on the ballot in the first place.”

However, it also appears that courts frown on the tyranny of the majority, especially as it usurps their judicial powers:

This would not be the first time the court has struck down an improper voter initiative. In 1990, the court stuck down an initiative that would have added a provision to the California Constitution stating that the “Constitution shall not be construed by the courts to afford greater rights to criminal defendants than those afforded by the Constitution of the United States.” That measure was invalid because it improperly attempted to strip California’s courts of their role as independent interpreters of the state’s constitution.

The court clearly ruled that marriage was a basic right of citizenship in May of this year, and should be displeased with a change to the constitution that attempts to sidestep this ruling. I hope.

The writ was filed by The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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Prop 8 Passes in California

Here is the AP article on the passage of Prop 8, via the New York Times.

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Alas, Prop 8 May Pass

My relief at Obama’s election was quickly eclipsed by despair, as the polls in California closed the instant the President elect was called on CNN, and the prop 8 race was close. I monitored the polls until 11PM, and expected to know the results when I woke up this morning, only to find that the vote was still too close to call. I listen to a story on Prop 8 as I write this now, with cheering pro Prop 8ers sure of their victory.

I realized at some point last night that the fight would continue: gay rights advocates will fight prop 8 in the court, anti-gay marriage haters will try to have existing same-sex marriages annulled.

I’m jaded, I know, but I’ve lived in so many places that were allegedly the most progressive in the country, and have always been disappointed, feeling either stranded on a small island of tolerance– I hate that word, but I am using it intentionally here– or feeling bitterly betrayed by the shallowness of progressive commitment. I live with the small sliver of San Francisco’s black community that hasn’t been pushed out of the city in the Fillmore district. From this vantage point, in the most progressive city in the most progressive state, I have to ask: What does it mean to be progressive in the United States?

Electing a black president is perhaps one of the most progressive acts of the national American electorate in the history of the United States. But I’m not sure how hopeful that makes me feel about the direction the United States will take. One day into the reality of a President-elect Obama, I am sick of the electorate patting themselves on the back for electing a black person, especially as they use their other hand to casually swipe at the rights of another minority group.

My hope is that Obama will eventually change the conversation, and prompt a civic engagement with a universalist bent that will deliver me and the rest of the world from the divisiveness that rules our country, without compromising so much that no good is accomplished during his Presidency.

A tall order, I know.

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States of Hate

California’s proposition 8 has attracted so much attention in my state, I had no idea that three other states had anti-gay rights measures on their ballots too. I stumbled across the information on the NCLR’s website while researching something else. Still, why was I not surprised that one of the states was Florida? The other two were Arizona and Arkansas.

A little background: Since 1996’s Federal Defense of Marriage Act, 40 states in the U.S. have banned same-sex marriage in their states, either by legislation or by amendment to their state constitution.

Arizona voters declined a few years ago to change their state constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage. They’ll have another chance this fall with proposition 102. The state already has a law forbidding same-sex marriage (several states do have both, double-dips of homophobia).

Arkansas voters will have the chance to nix all adoptions by unmarried people, and since the state has a DOMA, that means no gay people will be able to adopt children.

Florida already has the most draconian laws against LGBT rights—including banning same-sex couples from adoption—and voters have the chance to pass comprehensive hateful legislation. Prop 2 affects all unmarried couples, gay and straight, dismantling civil unions and domestic partnerships and denying couples the most basic of rights, like making hospital visits and medical decisions. Do I even need to editorialize on this proposition?

I think states like Arkansas and Florida are using language that includes all couples, gay and straight, to avoid court decisions like the ones by Connecticut and California’s Supreme Court. The high court of each of these states rejected laws that created a separate but equal logic in parceling out rights to queers; this was their rationale for granting the right to marry to same-sex couples.

These laws are so absurdly restrictive, impinging equally on gays and straights, only a great surge of homophobia could carry them to passage.

I don’t know if that’s a hopeful or resigned assessment of what to expect from voters.

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