I think Obama is different. I think the earnestness and sincerity of his campaign, and its generational force, have given us a chance for something new, and I fear that in responding too viscerally to the Warren choice, we may be throwing something very valuable away far too prematurely. There is no question that gays and lesbians have made enormous strides in explaining who we are in the last couple of decades. There is equally no question that Obama has substantively committed his administration to more gay inclusion and gay equality than any president in history. We absolutely do need to be vigilant on this. But we should also understand Obama's attempt to bridge some gaps in America that the Clintons, with their boomer baggage and Dick Morris cynicism, couldn't and didn't. This is what matters. Do gays and lesbians want to be a part of this—or sit fuming on the sidelines at symbolic slights?
We'll find out if this was a symbolic slight after Obama is inaugurated. How quickly will he move on his promises to gay and lesbian voters? Obama promised to let gays and lesbians serve openly in the military; he pledged to repeal DOMA; he said he would push for federal civil unions legislation that would provide same-sex couples with all the rights and responsibilities of marriage; he backed the rights of same-sex couples to foster and adopt children; and he said he would use the bully pulpit of the presidency to push for gay equality.
Obama did use the bully pulpit of the, er, president-electency to back gay rights; Obama stated, for the record at press conference, that he is a "fierce advocate" of equality for gay and lesbian Americans. Great. But Obama said that in response to the controversy kicked up by selecting Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration—a controversy kicked up by Obama honoring Warren. If angry gays and lesbians—and it's not just gay bloggers who are pissed (see Barney Frank's statement, and the head of the play-it-safe HRC's furious op-ed in the Washington Post)—Obama wouldn't have had to answer questions about Warren and wouldn't have made that "fierce advocate" statement. So our outrage got Obama to go on the record and firmly restate his support for gay equality.
But we won't found out who has been badly used here—Obama's gay and lesbian supporters or Rick Warren—until after Obama is president and he acts or fails to act on the promises he made to gay and lesbian Americans.