Tuesday, December 30, 2008

LGBT Obamaphobia, thanks to Reverend Rick Warren

Rick Warren
Barack Obama alarmed the LGBT community, which overwhelmingly supported him, by inviting homophobic, sex intolerant, evangelical preacher Reverend Rick Warren to give the opening prayers at his swearing in ceremony. 

Rick Warren and Rwandan President Paul Kagame Reverend Rick Warren with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who, like Ugandan President Yoweri Musoveni says that homosexuals do not exist in his country. Reverend Rick Warren himself has said, in Uganda, that he "will not tolerate this aspect, not at all." 

Can Barack Obama all inclusively tolerate the absolutely intolerant?

LGBT activists in the U.S., and especially in my hometown, San Francisco, California, are understandably outraged by Barack Obama's invitation to Reverend Rick Warren, an LGBT intolerant evangelical preacher, to say the "inaugural invocation," i.e., the opening prayer, at his swearing in ceremony, on January 20th, 2009.  

Obama’s excuse, his all inclusive tolerance of the absolutely intolerant, is no excuse.

And, make no mistake about it, Rev. Rick Warren is absolutely intolerant. Speaking in Uganda at the end of March, he said, “Homosexuality is not a natural way of life and therefore not a human right.  We will not tolerate this aspect, not at all.”

Homosexuality is a crime in Uganda, punishable by life in prison, and the same is true, though not formally, in Rwanda.  

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni are both very close allies of Reverend Warren,  and, both insist that homosexuals do not exist in their countries. And, that they, therefore, will not include homosexuals in the state health care system, not even the U.S.-funded HIV/AIDS prevention and care efforts, despite protest by Human Rights Watch and IRIN, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, http://www.plusnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=73931 , http://tinyurl.com/98vvhw .

Barack Obama, Reverend Rick Warren, and LGBT California

Reverend Warren not only tacitly endorsed Obama, near the end of the U.S. election, but also actively campaigned for Proposition 8, a California referendum banning gay marriage, which did pass, on the same day that Californians, including the LGBT community, overwhelmingly voted to elect Barack Obama.  The California State Supreme Court had legalized same sex marriage on May 16, 2008, http://tinyurl.com/6eypce, but Proposition 8 overrode the legal decision, at least for now.  City attorneys of San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have all sued to uphold the State Supreme Court decision, despite California's 52.1% majority vote.

Eighteen thousand gay couples had finally married, all over California, after the May 16th decision. On the first day that San Francisco issued same sex marriage licenses, couples kissed and cameras snapped all up and down the staircase inside San Francisco City Hall. Outside flowers sailed through the air, a band played, and video cameras recorded the celebration for network TV.

Here, many couples married for the second time, four years after the State of California invalidated marriage licenses that the City of San Francisco had attempted to issue independent of the State of California.

This time,  there were several weeks of confusion; no one quite knew how the State would treat LGBT couples married between May 16th and November 4th, when Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban, passed in the same election that gave California's 55 electoral votes, more than twice those of any other state in the nation, to Barack Obama, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_8_(2008).

Police could hardly keep celebrating crowds out of the streets on the night that Barack Obama was elected, even as the LGBT and LGBT supportive community tensed and waited for every last vote to be counted on Proposition 8.   When it passed by 52.1%, spontaneous protest broke out in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other LGBT supportive cities across the nation, where the LGBT community had looked to California to lead the nation towards marriage equaltiy.

Then, during the Christmas holidays, the State of California's majority voters managed to impose their personal morality on 36,000 more Californians; lawsuits brought by Prop 8 fanatics annulled 18,000 same sex marriages. On December 20th, San Francisco's LGBT community and supporters held a Candlelight Vigil for Marriage Equality on December the 20th, in the city's Union Square.

How, many asked, could November's election of the first African American president, have turned into such a triumph for bigotry?

Many angrily blamed the Black and Latino church vote, which had turned out in unusually high numbers both for Barack Obama and, arguably, for Proposition 8, and so much hostility broke out, particularly between LGBT and African American communities, in the San Francisco Bay Area, that community leaders called public meetings to mediate.

The "San Francisco Bay View, National Black Newspaper," which could hardly have been more LGBT supportive, throughout San Francisco's many years of struggle for LGBT rights, published several responses to those scapegoating the African American community for passage of California's Prop 8, including, "Pimping Blackness in the fight against Prop 8 African American LGBT leaders call for unity in aftermath of Prop 8," www.sfbayview.com/2008/pimping-blackness-in-the-fight-against-prop-8/ .

Then, on December 17th, Barack Obama invited openly homophobic evangelical preacher Reverend Rick Warren to pray at the opening of his inaugural ceremony, and LGBT anger turned, instead, on Barack Obama himself, the new international symbol of America's triumph over bigotry. 

Rick Warren, pastor of the Lake Forest, California Saddleback Church, had not only actively campaigned and made television commercials to pass Proposition 8, but even appeared on TV likening gay marriage to incest, pedophilia, and polygamy.

LGBT activists are still organizing phone, e-mail, and writing campaigns to demand that Obama cancel Rick Warren's opening prayer at his inauguration, though he all but certainly will not, even though he and his team no doubt know that this is their worst move yet.   

And, even though they must also know that Reverend Warren's prayer will now be the most tense, observed, reported, and analyzed moment of Obama's inauguration.

The Obama team cannot let the LGBT and supportive community pressure him to cancel his ill-considered invitation to Reverend Warren, not without alienating America's considerable evangelical and religious constituency, and, facing charges that his most controversial supporters, the LGBT community, control him.   

Where else will the LGBT community, or the anti-war and environmental communities, have to turn in 2012?

Tolerance is obviously no logical excuse for Obama's highly symbolic invitation to an absolutely intolerant preacher, but politician's pronouncements aren't logically consistent.  Most try to be all things to all people, or to as many as they possibly can, and say what they know their audience of the day wants to hear.  

Most people seem to think that Obama's tolerance of Rick Warren is simply a pragmatic move, to keep Reverend Warren under the Democratic Party big tent.

Reverend Warren, has been such a Bush fan, ally, and, successful lobbyist, that it is far easier to imagine him drifting towards Sarah Palin or some other hyper-Christian Republican, in 2012, than it is to imagine the LGBT community doing the same.   Having another party to turn to next time, Reverend Warren has far more power than those of us who don't, or who just can't invest any hope in the long haul of Third Party organizing.

But, no matter how much the LGBT community squirms and fumes alongside hostile campers under the Democratic big tent, the marginalized Third Parties, which most Americans consider quixotic, are the only exit.  

As long as they know that the LGBT community thinks it has nowhere to go, Obama and his team can simply turn to us all and say, "Whatcha want? Sarah Palin in 2012? The recriminialization of homosexuality? You can't get married, but at least you're allowed to exist, outside prison."  

(Unlike Rwandan and Ugandan gays and lesbians, if they surface enough to get caught.)   

Obama will no doubt carry on about "our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters," but why should he give the LGBT community, or the anti-war or environmental community, anything, so long as he's sure that we've got nowhere to go?

I'm registered Green, since I consider our two party system an inevitably losing game, but Greens are less than 1% of voters in the U.S., and no matter how exasperated Americans become with our Republicrats, few register Third Party or Independent because the U.S. has a two party duopoly, winner-take-all, rather than coalition, government.

The Presidential Debate Commission now tightly controls the presidential election spectacle, excluding all Third Party candidates, and even, in 2004, threatening to arrest Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.

I couldn't be more opposed to Proposition 8, or more in favor of marriage equality, but I'm hoping that LGBT anger about Rev. Rick Warren's pro-Prop 8 homophobia and intolerance in California may grow to include opposition to Rev. Rick Warren's absolute and worse than irresponsible LGBT intolerance in Africa.

This would make a far more powerful argument because Reverend Warren expresses his homophobia far more aggressively in these nations, where LGBT communities are far more vulnerable.

Rev. Rick Warren's homicidal homophobia and sex intolerance in Africa

In Africa, there is no leader more prominent than Reverend Rick Warren in the U.S.-funded HIV/AIDS "abstinence only" prevention and care campaign.   Its pillars are absolute gay intolerance, and abstinence prior to married, heterosexual monogamy.  No condoms, no HIV/AIDS education or counseling, and, for LGBT Africans, no HIV/AIDS services---neither prevention, obviously, nor, care.

And Reverend Warren has far more power and influence than most Americans realize in Africa, thanks to his political and corporate alliances, and to the U.S. HIV/AIDS funding distributed by his evangelical network, including Pastor Martin Ssempa of Uganda, a fervent abstinence evangelist best known for burning condoms in Kampala, http://tinyurl.com/8n7rp6 .   

Warren makes an exception for condom use by African prostitutes because he wants a chance to save their souls while they're still alive.  "It's too late if they're already dead," he says.

Let’s face it.   Whatever the motivation, this is homicidal homophobia and sex intolerance, especially in Africa, and even more especially in Sub Saharan Africa, where HIV/AIDS infection and death rates are already the highest in the world.

According to a PBS Frontline documentary, new HIV infections in Uganda doubled within two years after the U.S. began to fund "abstinence only" HIV/AIDS programs there, http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/rough/2007/07/uganda_the_cond.html# .

PEPFAR. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief in Africa

Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya all receive funds from PEPFAR, President's Emergency Plan for AIDS.

Reverend Warren and the evangelical and Catholic wing of the HIV/AIDS care community lobbied heavily for PEPFAR.  They also lobbied heavily, and successfully, to have PEPFAR funding restricted to organizations, and African nations, who promote abstinence only, before married heterosexual monogamy, and, obviously, LGBT intolerance, to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, an authoritarian U.S./Anglophone puppet, extended "national welcome" to Rev. Rick Warren, allowing him to test his global evangelical ambitions, and expand his tithing flock, by turning Rwanda into his African Pentecostal petri dish. Now Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, another authoritarian U.S./Anglophone puppet, with especially strong ties to Britain, has extended "national welcome" to Warren as well.

At the end of March 2008, on a twelve nation African tour of Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya, Warren arrived in Kampala, the capitol of Uganda, and announced that "homosexuality is not a a natural way of life," and thus, "not a human right."  He and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni then spoke out in support of Ugandan Anglican Bishops boycotting the English Anglican Church's Lambeth Conference, for welcoming a divorced, openly gay Episcopalian Bishop.

Ironically, gay Uganda can trace the life-in-prison penalty hanging over their sexuality to an anti-sodomy law surviving the British colonial era.

Human Rights Watch has called on the U.S. to stop promoting homophobic human rights violations in Uganda, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2007/10/10/letter-congressional-caucus-about-us-support-ugandan-homophobia  .  HRW has also protested the arrest and torture of Ugandan HIV/AIDS workers at odds with the abstinence only HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns, http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/07/29/uganda-torture-threat-hivaids-activists .

Uganda had seen great success at fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS, reducing the adult infection rate from 15% to 6% with its ABC program, Abstinence-Be Faithful-Use Condoms Correctly, before PEPFAR and its abstinence-only funding restrictions.

Since PEPFAR, Uganda's HIV/AIDS infection rate has doubled.

"We will not tolerate this aspect, not at all," in Uganda, and Rwanda?

I  have to wonder what Reverend Warren could possibly mean when he says, "We will not tolerate this, not at all," in U.S. puppet police states Uganda, and Rwanda, where terrified populations whisper anything that Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and their military, police, and security apparatus might not tolerate.

The U.S. State Department, military, and security apparatus use both of these U.S./Anglophone puppet states, where Rev. Rick Warren has "national welcome," to carry on a covert imperial war for Congo's vast natural resources.

Proxy Ugandan and Rwandan Armies, fighting in U.S.-Anglophone interest, have invaded Congo-Kinshasa from across that country's Ugandan and Rwandan borders, to control Congo's vast and geostrategic mineral wealth, since 1997.    This, the Congo War, has cost six million lives, since 1997 alone.   But, Reverend Rick Warren is perfectly tolerant of the Congo War which has also come to be known as the African holocaust, and perfectly tolerant of its U.S./Anglophone-backed perpetrators, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.  

And of U.S. military aid to both,  of the $80 million "embassy," and the U.S. military base in Kigali, Rwanda's capitol, just 30 miles from the Rwandan Congolese border.  

If those of us calling for "No Rick Warrren at Obama Inauguration" expand our concern to those brutally LGBT intolerant African populations whose presidents have invited kindred spirit Rev. Rick Warren into their countries, we would also, consciously or not, be extending our solidarity to the long suffering Congolese people. 

So, what's to be done?

For starters I'd say we call on Barack Obama, to:

1) Withdraw his "inaugural invocation" invitation to Reverend Rick Warren. (I don't think he will, but I think it's important to call upon him to do so nevertheless, and to protest this part of
the inauguration, peacefully or comically.)

2) Withdraw U.S. aid, meaning mostly military aid and training, to the brutally homophobic dictatorships of Rwanda and its President Paul Kagame, and to that of Uganda and its President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

3)  Strike the LGBT treatment exclusion and abstinence-only followed-by-heterosexual- married-monogamy restrictions from HIV/AIDS funding here, in the U.S., in Africa, and anywhere else PEPFAR funds HIV/AIDS work.   (This we may have a good chance of, because Barack Obama has repeatedly refused to let the religious right force him to back down on abortion, contraception, sex education, HIV/AIDS education, and effective prevention of HIV infection.  See http://obama.senate.gov/speech/061201-race_against_ti/ . ) 

4) Lead the U.S. into joining the UN declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality.  The U.S. is now alone among Western nations in refusing to sign onto the declaration, 

I'd like to think that the LGBT and supporters community might also be prepared not to support Obama in 2012 if, he hasn't eliminated homophobic, sex intolerant religious restrictions on U.S.-funded HIV/AIDS care, both here and in Africa, and stopped sending military aid to brutally homophobic dictators Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni.  

Keep in mind that Reverend Warren has a political home to return to, the Republican Party, and that the LGBT community, and the environmental and anti-war community, do not, not until we're ready to finally walk out of the Democratic Party big tent.


deandre said...

A Question for the Kool-Aid Drinkers:

Back then you supported Barack Obama because you didn’t like the way that Bush was giving backing to the reactionary Christian fascist movement which aimed to impose its morality on society.

But now Barack Obama announced that Rick Warren will give the invocation at his inauguration. This inauguration, of course, is being vested with all kinds of symbolic significance, way beyond the ordinary. And now Obama has given Rick Warren a major part, and platform, as some sort of moral authority with the power to call down blessings on to Obama and America.

Rick Warren, this “moral paragon,” not only believes but actively attempts to impose as law the following reactionary ideas:

That gay people should NOT have equal rights—and specifically, Warren only just now campaigned extremely actively in the bigoted, reactionary drive to deprive gay people of the right to marry.
That abortion is murder, and that the legalization of abortion in America—a law which not only enabled women to control their own reproduction but also literally saved thousands of lives a year—that this emancipatory ruling is comparable to the NAZI Holocaust! And Warren not only believes this crap, but tells his followers to vote for those who would outlaw abortion and DENY women the right to control their own reproduction.
That the world is only 6,000 years old and that species did not evolve but that instead the actual account of how life came to be is found in the Judeo-Christian “origin myths” of the Bible. Not only that, Warren believes that this particular origin myth should be taught as the truth in the schools, and that evolution (for now) should be taught as only one possible explanation—which is the (admitted) first step in a strategy to eventually officially suppress the teaching of evolution in public schools.
The demonization and denial of rights to gay people; the refusal of the most basic and intimate rights to women; and the suppression of critical thought—all to be enforced by the power of law. This is Rick Warren’s morality and this is (part of) his very political agenda. And now Barack Obama uses the power of his office to announce to the world, from the very first moment of his term, that this friendly-faced Christian Fascist is an important authority on morality, whose lunatic and reactionary spouting should be accorded great prominence and serious consideration.

Question: is this the change you want? Is this the change you believe in?

Mbantunyankompong said...

Rev Rick is linked to all kinds of stinkers. Being one himself, that makes the US political scene all the more odious. Like some ugly violet, prez-elect Barack Obama seems to be consistently shrinking away from the broad-base which elected him. Not just shrinking, but backstabbing, which is a historical tendency of the middle class whence he derives. Hee hee, LGBT people, now you kno how blacks and Chicanos and others have been stung by centuries of neo-colonialism.

nkeramihigo emmanuel said...

Accusing Pastor Rick warren for fighting the good fight is absurd.Go Rick and continue to love us by clinging to the truth of changeable but abominable act of homosexuality

I. Langalibalele said...

You say Pastor Rick fights the good fight by teaming up with Paul Kagame, whose hands are nearly as bloody as Hitler's were? If you think fighting gay rights is important, you have too much time on your hands. Try real problems, like unemployment, genocide in the Congo, housing foreclosures. That is a good fight if you have a spine, not the lil watered down Kool Aid you jellyfish pass off as 100 proof.

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