Friday, December 19, 2008

The Queers Are Damned

I find myself returning to this Warren at Inauguration issue with reluctance. I'm returning to it because so many people who I expect to be able to do political calculus seem unable to do so. I'm going to engage in a certain amount of "mind reading" here, but political analysis amounts to that anyhow.

Let's start out with something that ought to be clear to anyone who pays attention. You do not win arguments over religion. You do not get anywhere telling people that their religious beliefs are shit. A whole bunch of people hold a religious view that homosexuality is a sin and certainly would not be covered by their definition of marriage. That is a religious view. You might debate whether it is an accurate reflection of the Word or whether it is moral, or you could debate that endlessly and lose. Obama having Warren do the Invocation is an expression of respect for their religion.

Respect for a religion is not the same thing as endorsing its tenents as policy. In point of fact it can be quite useful in drawing a line of separation between church and state. It can be used to clearly state that "I don't want to undermine your religion, but the State has other concerns." If I were to wish to do something in the face of religious opposition I would want to first make it as clear as possible that it has nothing to do with religion.

Homosexuality is condemned in quite a few Holy Books as a sin and its practitioners are damned for doing so. If you want to take that as bigotry, then most Holy Books practice it. Just for starters Christians see any non-Christian as damned, queer or not. In Nazi Germany in the face of the government and their own religious teachings that Jews are damned Catholic priests rescued Jews, at real personal risk. Is that bigotry? They didn't change their religious teachings.

Whether I think Warren and Co are wrong about god is immaterial, I know they're wrong about the State's issues in marriage and concerning women and some others. I want that issue fought on my ground, the State's interests, not their ground of Religion. I seriously believe that Obama is doing exactly what is needed to take that fight forward. This is not an issue of validating Warren on State marriage, it is the first step in undercutting his influence in the State issue. It tells him that the State doesn't care if they damn the queers, but it has nothing to do with the State marrying them. It says I'm not going to try to do anything to your religion, but the State has its own interests, I'm willing to leave you alone and even respect you, but this is how it goes.

Many generals and many politicians have lost battles badly by fighting them on ground not of their choice. Lee got handed his head at Gettysburg by this alone. Obama is laying his ground game out. He's told people specifically that he is an advocate of gay rights, he's not going to tell the Religious Right and every other religion that they're being set up for a Gettysburg. I can easily do it here on this two-bit blog, who is going to pay any attention anyhow?

I've watched the short term black Senator beat the best political machines and now I'm watching people decide he's a political idiot. I'm pretty much astonished by it. I'm no enabler of bigotry, but I also am a left Democratic activist in a very red area and I like to win; so I have to pay attention. I know what ground I don't want to have fights on so I try to stay off of it. I have great respect for that ability in people who don't have it stuffed in their face repeatedly.

If you care that a religion damns you, I'd suggest changing religions. If you care that they talk about it, you're going to care for a long time. If you want the State to do something it would be a good idea to let the State be nice to religion while it ignores it. Or you could throw temper tantrums at Obama...


JGreenleaf said...

Good post, Chuck. I'm with you. I completely disagree with Warren's views on gay marriage, but I think inviting him to the inauguration was a smart move. Obama has to be the president of all of us, and if he can peel off some support from the religious right, they'll keep the Republican senators in line.

Imagine what could happen on climate change in this country if we were all united?

I think if you take the long view, it benefits all of us. I don't think it legitimizes Warren's opinions.

joycemocha said...

I think that Obama's being pretty savvy about all this, myself. I didn't vote for him because he was politically pure, I voted for him because I saw him as a political pragmatist who would get things done. So far I've not been terribly disappointed. He's thinking more about governance and less about ideology, and that's what our country needs at this point in time.

Chuck Butcher said...

Thanks Jennie,
Jennie is retiring DPO - DNC Committeewoman one of those infamous Superdelegates. You'd also have to go pretty far to find a smarter or harder worker in Democratic causes. I'm real proud to be able to call her my friend so her compliment is taken seriously.

Tom Carter said...

I think inviting Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration was a brilliant move. One thing that frustrated me a bit with Obama during the campaign was not being able to get a grip on what "change" meant. With his cabinet and senior official selections so far (except SecState), plus this one with Warren, I think he's clearly showing that "change" really meant change.

Some on the far left are unhappy with him because it seems their concept of change meant a lurch from the right to the left. To his credit, I think Obama is making an effort to show that he meant real change--the kind that brings us together despite our differences. Bravo, Barack!