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December 19, 2008


Amid the frustration and turmoil within our community over Obama's pick of rightwing, anti-gay evangelist Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation was the hope that out lesbian and long-time labor activist Mary Beth Maxwell would be named Secretary of Labor. That appointment would make her the first openly gay member of the LGBT community to ever serve in a presidential cabinet. Certainly, she is eminently qualified.

Filling that labor position was left to the very last cabinet level appointment. Thus, raising hopes even further that Maxwell would be his pick. Some of us even thought that maybe he was delaying announcing her appointment until after he had made his selection of Warren public. This would have made political sense since the sting of that slap in the face would be softened by the excitement of Maxwell's appointment.

Unfortunately, less than a day after the Warren announcement, Representative Hilda Solis was named to that position.

There's no question that, like all of Obama's cabinet picks, Solis is highly qualified as well. However, the biting sting of a virulent anti-gay evangelist giving the inaugural invocation has been greatly exacerbated by the strong disappointment of Maxwell being passed-over.

In case some of you aren't aware of just who Rick Warren is, in an interview with Beliefnet.com, he equated allowing loving same-sex couples to get married with redefining marriage to permit incest and pedophilia. He has also repeatedly espoused the often used lie that allowing marriage equality would threatened the freedom of preachers like him to say what they thought about homosexuality.

In a CNN commentary piece, Kathryn Kolbert, president of People for the American Way (a nonprofit advocacy group that supports equality and freedom of speech and religion), said:

"Warren has been divisive and dishonest on the issues of marriage equality and religious freedom -- and on other issues important to many Obama supporters, as well.

He adamantly opposes a woman's legal right to abortion and dismisses common-ground efforts to reduce the need for abortion by comparing them to accommodating the Holocaust. He is disrespectful of progressive people of faith, suggesting that they are tools of the Democratic Party or more Marxist than Christian.

So much for the values of unity and respect, not to mention the constitutional principle of equality, on which President-elect Obama campaigned."

As much as I would emotionally like to dismiss Obama as just another two-faced politician who talks out of both sides of his mouth when he purports to be a supporter of our community, I'm biting my tongue and containing my extreme disappointment - for now.

I am still hopeful that he will follow through on his statements of support for acquiring fully equal rights for same-sex couples, repealing DOMA, passing ENDA and ending DADT.

In fact, speaking of DADT, in an article posted today at Advocate.com, openly gay William White, president of New York's Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, is being named as a possible candidate for Secretary of the Navy in the Obama administration.

Obviously, an appointment of this magnitude would reverberate throughout congress and all branches of the military. It would also underscore Obama's commitment to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

According to The Advocate,

White, who has been with the museum since 1992, according to Newsday, would be the first openly gay chief of a military branch. The secretary is a civilian position, meaning his appointment would not be a direct violation of the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian service members.

Members of Congress and retired members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have contacted Obama's transition team, urging him to pick White.

So I suggest we bite the bullet on Warren and continue to look towards the future with optimism. At least, that's what I'm going to try to do.