Was it “unreasonable” for gays to be upset about Prop 8?

Last week, NY Magazine’s Jonathan Chait wrote a piece accusing liberals of being “unreasonable” in their criticism of President Obama on issues ranging from gay rights to health care to the economy. I’m going to respond to the piece in a day or so (since Chait quotes me in the first graf), but first am posting some of Mike Signorile’s excellent response over at HuffPost.

First, Chait’s first paragraph:

If we trace liberal disappointment with President Obama to its origins, to try to pinpoint the moment when his crestfallen supporters realized that this was Not Change They Could Believe In, the souring probably began on December 17, 2008, when Obama announced that conservative Evangelical pastor Rick Warren would speak at his inauguration. “Abominable,” fumed John Aravosis on AmericaBlog. “Obama’s ‘inclusiveness’ mantra always seems to head only in one direction–an excuse to scorn progressives and embrace the Right,” seethed Salon’s Glenn Greenwald. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow rode the story almost nightly: “I think the problem is getting larger for Barack Obama.” Negative 34 days into the start of the Obama presidency, the honeymoon was over.

Mike does a good job of explaining the Rick Warren problem, and why gays might have had a problem with elevating the man only 30 days after Prop 8 ripped our rights away in California, and with Rick Warren’s very bigoted and public help.

Chait fails to mention – perhaps he even failed to realize – that all three of the commentators he referenced [Aravosis, Greenwald, Maddow] are gay Americans. Rick Warren isn’t just a “conservative Evangelical pastor;” he was a driving force behind getting Prop 8 passed in the same year in which Obama was elected, spewing a message from the pulpit to California voters that “if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8.”

Warren, pastor of the influential Saddleback Church, had made offensive, bigoted remarks about gays, claiming homosexuality “is not the natural way” and that “certain body parts are meant to fit together.” He compared homosexuality to incest and pedophilia, telling a Beliefnet reporter, in the context of a discussion of marriage for gays, that he didn’t support a “a brother and sister to be together and call that marriage” and was “opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage.” When the reporter asked if he believed those are equivalent to gays and lesbians marrying, he said, “Oh, I do.”

Warren helped lead the majority of California voters to make that direct assault on the rights of gay people by pushing defamation and reckless rhetoric. In the process Warren no doubt also inspired bellowing antigay politicians and gay-bashing thugs on the streets.

I’m flattered to be put in the company of Glenn and Rachel, and pleased that Chait rightfully recognized our community’s role as the canary in the coal mine of liberal discontent over the President’s leadership style and his handling of progressive issues generally and gay issues in particular.

I’m still enjoying a long Thanksgiving break in Chicago, so I’ll get to responding to this, likely tomorrow.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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