Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rick Warren Pushback: Good For America

It's possible that the whole Rick Warren thing ends up being more positive than negative for gay rights, just because people on the left are pushing back so hard. If you're a religious figure trying to avoid controversy and appeal to lots of people, this whole episode is going to make you a little more wary of dissing on gay marriage. Warren is losing his status as a neutral and uncontroversial figure whose presence on one side of an issue can move the Overton Window, and that's a good thing. Pam Spaulding, every time you put up an anti-Rick-Warren post, an angel gets its wings and flies off to have hot gay sex with another angel.

So far, we've been seeing relatively bad symbolism and good indications of substance from the Obama administration, which fits into a good strategy for getting big progressive proposals through. Gain centrist cred by symbolically annoying progressives, use it to make your policy look centrist. Is this actually Obama's strategy? Time will tell.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

One thing I haven't seen many people discuss is Obama's own stance on gay marriage. Has anyone considered that Obama chose Warren because they are friends and he isn't actually bothered by Warren's stance on gay marriage?

J

Petey said...

OT: Since I've just noticed this blog for the first time right now, may I briefly interrupt to offer hearty approval on both the domain name and the blogging team?

I may? Thank you very much.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Jamelle, I'd have to admit that general "He's too smart to do that" considerations play an outsized role in my thinking. But maybe someone else knows more.

Thanks, Petey! Good to see you here.

corvus said...

Jamelle, considering that Obama's stance on gay marriage is civil unions identical to marriage in all ways except I doubt it. His own stance is basically a compromise solution by way of semantics. I think it's much more likely that he just gets along with people of different idealogies very easily. He actually seems to be friends with Dick Lugar, for example.

Uh oh! Petey's here! Quick, hide the trust funds!

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janinsanfran said...

I work in what there is of an LGBT movement (religious sub-set) and I think you are right that as this Warren episode has played out, it will probably work out to be a net positive. Some elements:

1) Yes, Warren's more noxious views have been widely publicized and that is a gain. He was getting off easy because most of us live in such separate media niches that he was audible only to folks close to his own views. Now he's in full daylight where there are a lot of people who find him repellent.

2) The passage of Prop. 8 sealed the deal for LGBT folks that nothing short of "marriage" is good enough. Oddly, lots of people didn't know they wanted it til for a short time they had it -- and then external forces snatched it away. People who had this set of experiences will be a lot less tolerant of politicians who try to gain LGBT support with the line "I'm not for gay marriage, but I'm for civil unions." Emotionally, for many LGBT people, the goal posts have been moved and they will be much more demanding of candidates. Many Democrats will have to figure that out quick. It will be new -- but very quickly it will become the norm for many.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Interesting, Jan. I'm wondering what the practical consequences of (2) are. I don't imagine that it'll push Democratic politicians to cross the bridge to full support of marriage equality -- that probably depends on the polling more than anything else.

corvus said...

Well, if two is the case, then I think the gay rights movement is just being silly. If I just can't understand why you wouldn't try to get a set of rights, even if they are under a different label. Why pass up the tax breaks and hospital visitation and automatic inheritance over the words at the top of the form. It's symbolism before substance. It seems like every politician under the sun has made some positive gurglings regarding civil unions, even Bush I think, so why not hold them to their word? And in a couple of years, when no one has a problem with gay people getting married, people will realize that having two contracts that do the same thing is a waste of paperwork and someone will write up a bill getting rid of that waste of paper.

And remember, this is just the legal side we're talking about. (In fact, I think of the biggest sources of confusion about this issue is that lack of distinction made between marriage as a religious sacrement and as a legal contract. Everyone seems to be arguing about the former when what is at stack is the latter, and besides, people have been engaging in the former for a while go. There was one on Friends, and that show ended ages ago!) People can go to the courthouse and sign their civil union license and go to their place of worship and get married. And then call their spouse their husband or their wife. No one is going to start referring to their civil unionist or something.

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