By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
It's becoming clear that while the gay rights movement's leaders are thrilled with Obama's invitation to Gene Robinson to join inauguration festivities, lots of its rank and file are still deeply distressed over Rick Warren giving the invocation on Inauguration Day. As a reporter, it's often tricky figuring out if a movement's—any movement, from the Christian right to the antiwar left—spokespeople are truly representing whom they claim to speak for.
Without polls, it's really impossible to know.
But I'm getting more and more angry comments and E-mails from members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community furious with their nominal leaders. This E-mail from a former Clinton White House aide who requested anonymity captures the lingering anger over Warren:
. . . [T]he problem here goes well beyond Warren's incendiary language equating gay marriage with incest. He is what he is. The greater problem lies in the President-Elect's cruel calculation that this insult and offense to gay America is acceptable collateral damage for whatever plus he sees in the suck-up to Warren, giving profile and platform to this mega-merchant of discrimination in the first program agenda item during the first official act of his first day in office. I was one of the 12 first-ever openly gay White House staff members to take up work the day following President Clinton's inauguration. His respect for gay Americans was evident even when setbacks and disappointments slowed the change agenda, and he certainly did not deliberately nor unnecessarily scheme to sell out gay Americans on his first day in office to score points with opponents. Ordinary gay Americans will need to hold this new Administration to the tenets of its campaign and to the idealism of its Inaugural language — and to a fundamental expectation for respect. The Warren invitation remains a disgrace and a blemish on day one of the new Administration. Shame on Obama.
For a lot of LGBT folks, the heartburn over Warren will linger awhile. But what if Obama delivers on a major LGBT political goal in his first term, something like ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," like the president-elect's spokesman recently promised? It's hard to imagine the current gay ambivalence over Obama outlasting such a huge advance for the LGBT cause. The reality of policy would quickly overwhelm symbolic concerns.