As many of you know theres been a much anticipated rift between Obama and a great deal of progressive voters. The cause? Obama choosing Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration. Where do I stand on the matter?
Well, as usual: somewhere in the middle.
The Gay community, and therefore the progressive community at large (as well as anyone who isn't a homophobic bigot) has cause to be concerned about folks like Rick Warren getting any political capital. He has, among other things, likened Homosexuality to Adultery and Polygamy, Opposed Gay Marriage on the grounds that it violates the free speech of Gay Marriage opponents (I don't find ANY argument against Gay marriage particularly logical or credible but this is certainly one of the weaker critiques. Its a bit like saying "Man these anti-discrimination laws violate my right to say racist things!!!!!") and is against Gay adoption. These positions are all unacceptable. People will often point to his work as an AIDS activist as some evidence of him being more progressive than other evangelical leaders, but his work on that issue has been mostly in Africa where HIV/AIDS is a predominantly heterosexual disease.
He has recently responded to some of these concerns visiting a gay thrift store and removing some language prohibiting gay people from attaining membership at Saddleback (four words: worst church name ever) from their website. I think its important to note that Warren is a fairly controversial figure in the evangelical community. Conservative evangelicals resent Warren addressing issues like Climate Change and find Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" book/movement a bit too close to pop-psychology for comfort. Liberal evangelicals (note: not an oxymoron) found Warren's purpose driven life materials a bit too commercial and yearn for an open and affirming (read: not homophobic) evangelical movement. If Obama thinks that Warren will be some gateway to the evangelical community he is sadly mistaken. Evangelicals are notorious for being strict ideologues, I've seen these people on the verge of screaming about issues like infant baptism and the ordination of female elders......A pro-choice politician? Puh-lease
What should keep lefties from hyperventilating? Pop quiz: Name the last pastor that gave the invocation at an inauguration.........still waiting........Okay, times up. I'm betting that you're probably like most people I've asked this question of and have reached the logical conclusion that this isn't even a very important role in the inauguration ceremony, let alone one of much historical significance.
Unfortunately due to the economy Gay rights activists will have a hard time making marriage equality seem like a dire struggle (although it is). Additionally Obama and most other prominent Democrats are against Gay marriage, although I do think we may see some progress on domestic partnership issues (I know, hardly a panacea).
Meanwhile Obama has appointed one hell of a secretary of Labor.
Its difficult to judge how progressive (or successful) president Obama will be over the next four years. Its important that we lefties stay vigilant, but retain some perspective and not let disagreements get in the way of our shared values.