smoke signals

How Rick Warren’s Inaugration Prayer Was the Best Clue that Obama Would Fail on Gay Rights

Remember, this time last year, when Rick Warren’s name was blowing up the spot because the newly elected President Obama had invited the Prop 9 supporter to deliver the inaugural prayer, while gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson was effectively cut from the live broadcast? You should’ve been taking notes then, because it was the barometer of things to come: Democratic misfortune, the bungling of fiercely advocating for gay rights, drama over health care reform and civil liberties infractions.

It’s a bit of a leap to say the future was written on the wall back in January 2009, but we see where Hillary Clinton’s former adviser Peter Daou is coming from.

The question of whether President Obama is too far left or not left enough will be at the center of the message wars in the lead-up to the midterms. And because these two themes have been analyzed and fleshed out in countless articles and blog posts, it’s tempting to see the events of the past year exclusively through the prism of one or the other.

But I’d like to suggest an additional explanation for the demise of Democratic fortunes, namely, that Democratic leaders made two crucial miscalculations in early 2009. A quick glance at the news a year ago today offers clues. On January 19th, 2009, CBS published the “Obama-Lincoln parallel.” The Washington Post wrote about a “bear market for Republicans leaving the Hill or the administration.” The same day, techPresident discussed “How the Obama Transition is Using Tech to Innovate.” Elsewhere that day, LGBT bloggers were complaining that gay Bishop Gene Robinson’s prayer was left out of HBO’s live broadcast of the inaugural concert.

In that small selection of stories, key themes emerge: a) Obama is the next Lincoln; b) The Obama online revolution continues; c) Republicans are finished; d) a handful of progressives aren’t buying it.

Looking back, it’s not that difficult to see how the seeds of today’s Republican resurgence were planted in those early days.

Did the bungling of Robinson’s live speech put us where we are today? That’s a stretch. But yes, for the president of the YouTube era to think we’d be just fine seeing the gay bishop’s speech, uh, on YouTube, it was only the beginning of a series of deliberate missteps.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #politics #barackobama #democrats stories and more


  • Jeff K.

    You know what? I STILL don’t regret voting for him only because the alternative would have been much worse. Isn’t that sad? This is what American politics is reduced to: Voting against the guy you don’t want rather than voting for the one you DO want.

  • Brian NJ

    Warren was just the start of a dissing process, designed to please the religious voters. Obama has, over and over and over again, thrown water on us like we were witches to keep religious support — shark legal briefs defending DADT and DOMA, and most recently we learned that the Administration lied about having a plan to repeal DADT — they never did.

    Well, we are not toxic assets, we are human beings, veterans who put their lives on the line for America, family people, all kinds of people. Obama forgot that he served the people, and we don’t serve him. Obama and Rahm got the HRC to sit captive and serve the Administration, but the gay people refuse to. We are leaving the Hanoi Hilton, fucktards.

  • j

    Daou is a very astute man and what he says is obviously fact, regardless on your views of obama. Back when the inauguration was being broadcast all over the world and people asked me curiously “why I was so cynical” or why I didn’t see “how amazing this man is”, well, I feel like daou has quickly and quietly summed up a large part of my answer.

  • Mark Alexander

    I–like most of America–voted for Obama because we thought he was going to bring real change to the United States and rid the White House of the stench of the previous administration. I’m sadly coming to the realization that all I got for my vote was “Bush Lite,” and not even that. At least the Republicans shoved their agenda down the Democrats’ throats come hell or high water. I wish the Dems would show HALF their initiative.

  • stevenelliot

    One of Obama’s greatest problems is that he doesnt have the balls to disagree with his political advisors. His other big fault is that he is not a shrewd politician, but rather simply, a great orator. Both of these traits are what will bring his presidency to its knees.

  • Dissed

    I hope Obama is the recipient of crappy karma for betraying us.

  • Em

    The guy has been in office 1 year – I think these premature declarations of failure are about as short sighted as Bush’s declaration of Mission Accomplished 15 minutes after the invasion of Iraq.

    Yes, he may fail us yet, but I’m not prepared to throw in the towel after only 1 year out. You gotta have hope… because, honestly, he’s the best we’ve got. However damning that is of our current political state.

  • Robert, NYC

    Now that they’ve lost the 60 filibuster proof vote, serves them right. Consorting with Warren was the red flag for the LGBT voting bloc. I knew then that the writing was on the wall. Huge disappointment but I’ve learned, never trust the dems, almost as bad as the republicans. Time to look elsewhere.

  • Em

    Where else will you look, Robert? If you can find a better alternative, let me know.

  • Cam

    The Dems this year remind me of the nerdy girl in high school that keeps blowing off their friends and turning on them in hopes that the cool kids will let her sit at their table at lunch.

  • Robert, NYC

    Em…I’m actually a Green, the only party with a truly progressive platform, isn’t politically correct and supports universal health care, marriage quality, environment issues, campaign finance reform advocates, repeal of DADT, DOMA. I’m sick and tired of being told that a third party isn’t viable by other gay activists. It won’t be all the time we keep giving our money, time and votes to Democrats who year in year out fail us. If 15-20 million of us stopped doing that, you’d see a different democratic party and who knows, maybe a different republican party emerge. This two party system hasn’t worked, itd does for most straights, but not fo us. Look what happened in NYS. 8 of own party, conservative democrats voted away our rights. Who needs that shit and not a peep out of the party in general. Absent the wars, the economic crisis, healthcare, homeland security, I’m under no illusion that we’d be any further ahead with this party. They’ll come up with excuse after excuse, delay after delay, and WE allow it. Don’t forget, there are far more straight progessives out there, our allies who don’t much care for the democrats of late. Get them on board, you’ll see a major impact take place.

    Another thing. Its also incumbent on democrats to have dialog with our foes, we can’t do it all. If they’re not prepared to do that, then forget about equality and they in turn can forget about our support that has been taken for granted for far too long. I refuse to let that happen again and they need to know that, NOW.

  • andy

    GO Robert.

  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    Green Party ALL the Way! Obama is toast and will lurch to the Right! Better pack up the Gay Tent and snap that purse shut! Rick Warren needs to be bankrupted with multiple lawsuits!

  • SmartVac

    Regardless of his support/betrayal of LGBT rights, his impact on race relations, regardless of the success/failure of his presidency overall, his election was necessary to prove that white males do not have a monopoly on the highest political office in the land. It could be the important breakthrough node for future change.

  • Peter

    Does the Green Party going have a black candidate that we will be able to back, starting now? (or any race)?

  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    The Green Party would be smart to run a woman, latino or out gay. Black would not work this go around after Cynthia McKinney, if you paid attention to the last Presidential ballot or even voted.

  • Robert, NYC

    Peter #15, none that I know of, though I don’t see why. Blacks are more than welcome in the Green Party, any minority for that matter. As I said in a previous post, if 15-20 million or more of us stood with the Greens, you’d see the immense impact it would have on both parties, siphoning away votes from them and taking away a lot of their power. Its doable! We have to stop buying into the defeatist notion that a third party isn’t workable. It is and we can make it happen if we’re that serious about getting our rights.

  • Brian

    Well, the Green Party did give us eight years of Bush, so I would listen to those folks. They have great judgement.

  • schlukitz

    No. 11 · Robert, NYC and No. 11 · Robert, NYC


    Doing the same shit, over and over (voting for either a Dem or Repug) will not bring a different result.

    It at first you don’t succeed, try, try again is just plain dumb.

    If at first you don’t succeed, step back and take a look at what is being done wrong.

  • Chitown Kev


    Uh, no….

    Those 97,488 votes in the 2000 Presidential election in Florida were Ralph Nader’s and not Al Gore’s. If Gore wanted those votes, he should have went after them.

  • Devon

    It was like a bigoted canary in the mineshaft warning of the fail to come.

  • nokkonwud

    Actually, my spider senses started tingling with the LOGO debates and “God is in the mix.” I knew he was gonna screw us over when Donnie McClurkin stood on the stage at Obama’s Get-the-Black-South-to-vote-for-me rally.

    Rick Warren was just the coup de grace that proved it.

  • Tommy Marx

    What’s Prop 9 and why did Warren support it?

  • jason

    Obama is very calculating. He sits in his office and weighs us like sugar. On the balance side is how he is perceived by the general electorate. He is acutely aware that he mustn’t appear overly gay-friendly.

    He was never going to repeal DADT. It was a fraud perpetuated so as to win votes. If you voted for him on this basis, you deserve what you get.

  • Attmay

    I’m not supporting a party that chooses a vicious racist and anti-semite like Cynthia McKKKinney as its presidential candidate.

  • schlukitz

    No. 23 · jason

    He was never going to repeal DADT. It was a fraud perpetuated so as to win votes. If you voted for him on this basis, you deserve what you get.

    Um…a little more salt, please. And could you rub it in just a tad harder? ;P

  • blackjack44

    what the hell is prop 9? was a that a law banning gay musicals starring Kate Hudson and Daniel Day Lewis? :sarcasm: seriously, what is prop 9?

Comments are closed.