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Isobel White Headshot

Rick Warren: Another Damper on My Chance at Obama-mania

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Like everyone else who cares about LGBT equality, election night brought a mix of joy as it became apparent Obama would win, and pain as we realized Prop. 8 would pass. My wife and I spent the evening in Union Square trying to enjoy a birthday dinner with friends before heading to the official No on 8 party. When word came at around 8:15 that Obama had been elected, cable cars rang their bells and whoops of job sprang up all around the Square. I joined a dozen folks clustering around a local TV station's van watching a teeny tiny TV broadcasting CNN. I tried to join in the revelry, but all I could access was alienation. At no other time in my life had I felt so discriminated against . I spend my days working on a variety of progressive issues, but in that moment -- and for the next week -- all that mattered was Prop. 8. My vision narrowed and intensified. They say this happens when you feel under attack. "What about us?" I kept wanting to say. "What about our rights?"

Our dinner ran late, so we missed Obama's speech and we even missed the official No on 8 party. Upon leaving the restaurant all we saw was members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and other assorted folks out on the street, stunned and wondering what to do next. I spent the next few days fearing conversation with anyone who might not be thinking about Prop. 8 -- anyone who would want to talk about Obama, or the weather, or our kids' school, or anything not related to my pain. It was as though I was grieving and I didn't want to be with anyone who wasn't grieving too.

It took us a full week to watch his victory speech on Youtube. By that time, my single-mindedness had subsided and I was able to be genuinely thrilled. My wife and I looked at each other during the speech, tears of joy this time. We agreed that his election is a once in a lifetime experience for us. This is our JFK. And even in mid-November I thought to myself, well, at least during his inauguration I'll be able to celebrate like the rest of the country. I'll be able to watch the event in real time and get high on the collective Obama-mania like everyone else.

So it breaks my heart -- in fact, it's pretty much inconceivable -- to learn that Obama has asked anti-gay California pastor Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration.

I could forgive Obama his tepid support for the No on 8 campaign. It was election time -- he had to win. There are so many critical issues in front of him. He had to win.

But he could have chosen any clergy member in the nation to deliver his invocation. So why one from the state where religion has so recently been a painful dividing line? One who spoke out so publicly in support of Prop 8, stating that "there is no need to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population ... This is not a political issue -- it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about"? One who continues to argue that marriage equality silences his religious views?

Why re-open painful wounds?

As unlikely as it seems, here's hoping Obama will listen to reason and rescind his invitation. Here's hoping I will finally, finally, be able to have my Obama moment.

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