Barack Obama on his invitation to Rick Warren to provide the invocation at his inaugural:
What we have to do is create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable, and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.
But the issue to me is, I'm not opposed to that as much as I'm opposed to the redefinition of a 5,000-year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.
[Interviewer]: Do you think, though, that they are equivalent to having gays getting married?
Rick Warren: Oh I do...
Barack Obama asks that we avoid disagreeability; however, he does not consider Warren's comparison of gays to pedophiles and incestuous siblings to be "disagreeable" -- just our criticism of his decision.
Obama invited preacher/gospel singer and well-known homophobe Donnie McClurkin to perform at one of his campaign rallies during the Democratic primaries. Obama defended that decision with similar "big tent," "reach across divides," "I support equality" language. He has repeatedly stated his opposition to gay marriage.
At this point, I think it's fair to say that Obama suffers toward gays what a great many Americans suffer towards blacks and women -- a soft bigotry. He believes in equality and may vigorously advocate for it, but to him, we remain just a little shy three-dimensionally human. To him we are "issues" not people. For him, that some believe we should not exist is a sociopolitical disagreement--like taking exception to where a dam should be built. It is not disparaging one's being because in his eyes, there's a little less human there to begin with.
Obama would never employ similar tactics or language with anyone suggesting that Israel was a rogue nation or that African-Americans' rights should be "up to the states." Obama's support for gay rights -- and his lingering distaste for gay lifestyles -- simply puts him on a par with a majority of Americans. It's a political win-win for him.
Like most who harbor soft bigotries, Obama probably considers himself enlightened and free from prejudice. He hires gays, he reaches out to them, etc. But I've had several very liberal, very educated, highly "enlightened" whites make excruciatingly racist comments in my presence and not realize what their comments betrayed until confronted.
When you are taught from birth to revile a certain minority group, smarts and doctorates do not dispel that teaching. Smarts and doctorates suggest that there is no rational reason for you to feel that way, so you outwardly change your behavior. But a voice deep down keeps singing... "they're less, they're dirty." That's when it becomes safe to turn an entire group of people and their ability to live and love as freely as their fellow citizens into an "issue," as opposed to a "right."
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