It was the week before Christmas and
everyone was outraged.
Early in the week, gay
activists were disappointed that a strong gay candidate for Labor
Secretary in the Obama Cabinet was passed over in favor of California
Representative Hilda Solis (Democrat). The decision took the wind out of the sails
of gay politicos, leaving them with little to cheer for.
Openly lesbian Mary Beth Maxwell had
been considered a strong contender for the position. Maxwell is the
founding executive director of American Rights at Work, and had
helped line up support for the pro-union Employee Free Choice Act.
“It's now clear that President
Obama's top appointees will gather in a Cabinet Room that does not
reflect the living rooms, board rooms or rooms of worship across this
country,” said Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund President Chuck
Wolfe. “Openly LGBT people are accepted and involved in nearly all
aspects of American life, but they still will not have a place at the
table at the highest reaches of their government.”
Frustration met anger at the church
door of Reverend Rick Warren on Wednesday when President-elect Barack
Obama chose the anti-gay pastor to give the invocation at his
Openly gay Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank called it a “mistake,” while Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said it was “disrespectful” of gays.
A prominent leader in the evangelical
movement, Warren supports the outlawing of abortion in all cases and
is a staunch gay rights opponent. But his moderate tone on AIDS,
poverty and climate change have made him controversial among social
Gay activists say Warren is homophobic.
They point out that his Saddleback megachurch bans gays and lesbians
from attendance, he supports the controversial ex-gay movement that
claims gays can be “cured” through prayer, and, most importantly,
he supported the passage of Proposition 8 – the California
constitutional amendment that yanked back the right of gay and
lesbian couples from marrying in the state.
Obama defended his choice at a Thursday
press conference, where he said: “I am a fierce advocate of
equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something that I have
been consistent on, and I intend to continue to be consistent on
during my presidency. What I've also said is that it is important
for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements
on certain social issues.”
What everyone is sensing, but no one is
articulating, is the real loss of trust going on this week. Warren
is our enemy and we thought the Obama administration would be our
friend. And there might be some real buyer remorse going on in the
gay community which is asking itself: How far can we trust this guy?
Anger erupted again when the United States refused to sign on to a United Nations resolution that called for the universal decriminalization of being gay.
Thursday's pro-gay resolution was met
with an equally forceful, Arab-backed statement opposing it. It
said, “[Decriminalizing homosexuality could lead] to the social
normalization, and possibly the legitimization, of many deplorable
acts including pedophilia.”
When U.S. diplomats chose neither
resolution to sign on to, it left us in the uncomfortable position of
being the only Western nation not backing the pro-gay resolution.
The Vatican denounced the pro-gay
resolution saying they feared it would lead to gay marriage.
But things were a bit sunnier in
California, where Attorney General Jerry Brown has reversed course and decided he will seek to have Proposition 8 invalidated.
Brown previously has said he would
defend the anti-gay measure.
“It's outrageous,” Frank Schubert,
campaign manager for Yes-on-8, told the Los Angeles Times.
And here's a recap of the ten most compelling gay stories of 2008. Happy New Year!
The Gay Slant is a weekly feature of On Top
Magazine. Walter Weeks is writer for On Top and can be reached at