Nate Silver has a post up about how Obama's transition website is more LGBT-friendly than his campaign site:
What to make of the difference? On the one hand, this would seem to demonstrate Obama's (over)sensitivity to the politics embedded in gay rights issues. A waffling, now-you-see-it, now-you-don't attitude toward gay rights is exactly what many in the community fear from the administration. On the other hand, one can argue that Obama is moving in the right direction, now willing to make a more explicit and comprehensive series of commitments to the gay community than he was while in campaign mode.
One consequence of the Rick Warren controversy is that Obama may now be under a greater amount of pressure from Democrats to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, to pass ENDA, and to expand hate crimes statutes, and to do all of the above relatively quickly. As we have pointed out before, large majorities of the public are in line with the Obama position on all three issues. If Obama is not willing to expend the relatively modest amount of political capital required on those, then one can reasonably anticipate that he won't be willing to touch more controversial subject areas like adoption or civil unions.
I doubt the changes in the site are due to the Rick Warren outcry specifically, but I wouldn't doubt that the site looks better after a whole campaign season's worth of criticism of and skepticism about his stance on LGBT issues. (Queerty disputes Nate's timeline but agrees with his overall point.)
Which all makes me wonder why there are some in the community who want the rest of us to keep quiet on Rick Warren or any other issue when it comes to Barack Obama and the LGBT community. Are people genuinely skeptical of him? Yes. And they should be. That's not hate, that's just accepting reality - we've been through this process before.
In fact, I'd venture to say that one thing the queers have been good at, especially our national orgs, is keeping their mouths shut to avoid rocking the boat. HRC was quick on this one, but there have been other times when the same orgs have been far more concerned with staying in pols' good graces than registering displeasure with certain government actions.
But a byproduct of Prop 8 passing is the fact that the LGBT community is just getting more involved, informed, and angry. And that's a good thing. For far too long we've been apathetic when it comes to organizing and fighting back, and far too often we've just thought that we'd elect good people and we'd get what we want. Too bad politics doesn't work that way.
The good part about the anger unleashed after Prop 8 and Rick Warren is that it's authentic, as Christie Keith observed a little while ago:
Let me explain something very carefully, for those who don't know: none of what's going on in the fight for LGBT rights is part of a strategy, as should be apparent by our lack of a cohesive movement and any viable leaders. It's a true grassroots uprising among people who got a taste of freedom and decided we wanted more. We were no longer willing to settle for a long, slow, state by state battle, for death by a thousand cuts, for an extended period of second class citizenship.[...]
You say that equality for LGBT citizens is an "issue" that needs to take its place on the list of progressive causes, and not a fundamental civil right that is the very foundation and bedrock of our entire constitutional system: equality under the law.
You say we're too angry and it's not an effective strategy, completely missing that we're not strategizing; we're really this angry -- even me, a 49 year old lesbian who lives in San Francisco and has a good job. I'm so furious I often can't sleep, can't eat, and sometimes I shake with rage.
And I can't imagine why we'd ask people to stifle that.
If anything's going to put the Obama team on notice from the LGBT community, it's going to be outcry like this. Keeping quiet and being polite has never done anything for us, and it won't do anything for Obama either. He needs pressure from the left in order to get these policies through. Or, as FDR put it:
FDR was, of course, a consummate political leader. In one situation, a group came to him urging specific actions in support of a cause in which they deeply believed. He replied: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it."
He understood that a President does not rule by fiat and unilateral commands to a nation. He must build the political support that makes his decisions acceptable to our countrymen. He read the public opinion polls not to define who he was but to determine where the country was - and then to strategize how he could move the country to the objectives he thought had to be carried out.
One thing that maybe a few people in the community aren't ready for is the fact that Obama is not going to be perfect. I think there's also a significant, cynical group out there who think that there's no chance of working with him, he's already another Bill Clinton.
The truth's probably somewhere in the middle, and he's going to need to feel pressure from us to act. There are going to be more stumbles in the future, and more bad ideas floated just to see what the community's reaction will be. And we have to be ready to raise hell at each point. Rick Warren's just practice.
One thing we do know, though, is that the Religious Right isn't telling evangelicals and other homophobes to sit quiet and not worry about Obama. And they won't just give up because he's a Democrat. They're going to be out there making noise on every turn, no matter what he's trying to do, no matter what concessions he's made to them in the past.
This is politics. We have to make noise. Shutting up is the absolute worst idea for the LGBT community right now, and I, for one, won't be participating.