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Gene Robinson, Obama Inaugural Committee Address Snub

Jim Burroway

January 19th, 2009

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson appeared on today’s National Public Radio program “Talk of the Nation” to discuss the omission of his invocation from HBO’s nationwide broadcast of the Inaugural concert. (Audio will be available online at approximately 6:00 p.m. EST.) NPR News also clarified that the reason they didn’t carry the Bishop’s invocation was because they were relying on HBO’s feed.

In remarks to NPR, Bishop Robinson said that he learned that he would be excluded from the broadcast when he saw a copy of the final schedule, which had him speaking at 2:25 and the broadcast starting at 2:30. He didn’t see the schedule until sometime shortly before he went on.

The live broadcast began with the President-elect and vice-President elect ascending the dais, which means they weren’t publicly present when Bishop Robinson delivered his invocation. This gives rise to suspicions that they didn’t want to be seen photographed with Bishop Robinson on the same stage.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Inauguration Committee communications director Josh Earnest sent a statement to Americablog explaining that they “regret the error”:

“We had always intended and planned for Rt. Rev. Robinson’s invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday’s program. We regret the error in executing this plan – but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event.”

It seems to me that so many people fully expected to see Bishop Robinson’s very public presence as an acknowledgement that LGBT concerns were being taken seriously by the incoming administration — especially after the seething anger over Rick Warren’s pick to deliver the invocation at the Inauguration just days after he compared gay relationships to incest, child rape and polygamy.

Seeing Bishop onstage with the Obama and Biden would have been a tremendously healing, uniting experience. Instead, the episode did nothing but open old wounds and widen the gulf of mistrust which has emerged between the LGBT community and the incoming administration. Simply saying “we regret the error” doesn’t cut it. Not without a better explanation of how such a terrible tin-ear blunder could have occurred in the first place.

Comments

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Ben in Oakland
January 19th, 2009 | LINK

As I always say:

I’m sure that our politicans would have the courage of their convictions…

…if they had any convictions.

Patrick
January 19th, 2009 | LINK

In the USA being seen with gays is not good for politicians – the country is simply too bigoted. Politicians are all about getting re-elected, not about doing what is right. Put 2 and 2 together and you get your answer.

Instead of complaining that people don’t want to be seen with us I suggest we be very vocal on pointing out the lies religious leaders spread about us. Hold these people (and the politicians) accountable when they lie about us. Let’s face it, that is a full-time job. Thankfully, boxturtlebulletin is a leading voice in that accountability. It just surprises me, to be honest, when you appear surprised that politicians don’t want to be seen with us. It’s reality.

Obama is a massive disappointment. But then, he is a politician, so it is to be expected. If he lies, I will shout it from the mountaintops.

Damon
January 19th, 2009 | LINK

Everyone hates politicians except their own favorites.

As always everyone is going to cry on the internet today then go to work tommorrow, going about their lives, then cry some more on the internet during their free time.

Some movement we have.

tinagrrl
January 19th, 2009 | LINK

Obama neither understands, nor respects the LGBT community. He has made this clear time after time.

Always remember: “Silence = Death”. We only make progress when we make noise, upset people, “act up” — otherwise, folks seem to pat us on the head, say “there, there”, and send us to our ghetto, errrr. room.

Keep on complaining, send e-mails to both HBO and Obama’s folks — start talking about boycotts, pull financial support from thr Dems. — do whatever is necessary.

I live in Dallas County, in Texas. We have recently moved sharply to the Democrats. If progress isn’t made – neither my partner nor I will vote. In a place with thin margins of victory, we can make a difference.

We will let the local party folks know this. we cannot sit aside and accept this treatment from our “friends”.

Alex
January 19th, 2009 | LINK

Oh, come on! Does this really matter?!

Obama has bigger things to worry about, things that concern everyone, not just three percent of the population. We can’t expect the leader of 300 million people to drop everything just to appease a relatively small minority like us, nor should he lose our support for caving in and pandering to evangelical Christians, which is something that EVERY politician does.

Rather than cry about this non-issue like a bunch of spoiled babies, the gay community should be thankful for what we already have and not be so damn self-centered and myopic. People are getting executed in the Middle East just for being gay, while over here we whine about a gay bishop whose prayer didn’t get airtime?! How pathetic.

tinagrrl
January 19th, 2009 | LINK

Anti-gay violence was up in 2007 and 2008.

We suffered some rather substantial losses at the polls this last election. Existing marriages are being nullified — how is concern about these things acting “like a bunch of spoiled babies”?

If you are grateful for being a second class citizen, lacking many of the rights and responsibilities of other citizens, that may well be O.K. for you — I’m not willing to support those who intend to keep me in this condition.

The fact I may support no political party that tends to throw me under the bus is one of the only ways I have to protest.

I am willing to be patient. I’ll give Obama time to get his act in order — but, not too much time.

every other group fights for its rights. All we want is to be treated equally with other citizens — that is not whining.

David C.
January 19th, 2009 | LINK

Oh, come on! Does this really matter?!

Not clear. The appearance of Gene Robinson at this “Obamastock” event was a bone thrown to the LGBT community to in part mollify us for the Warren pick. At least, that’s how it was seen by Gay commentators and many LGBT rank and file. Obviously not tasty enough to bite with the reduced visibility and corresponding substantial loss of symbolic significance. I appreciate the disappointment felt by many, and was myself hoping for better.

Indeed, obama has his hands full. A lot of damage can be undone in the first day or two by simply reversing the anti-gay Bush Executive orders, and it is the fall of those that will tell the tale in the early going. Symbolism be damned if the real governance produces meaningful change. The longer Obama can stay under the radar while acting in our interests, the better for the LGBT community. The right wing is looking for any opportunity to create a lot of distraction and derail the now Democratically controlled government.

I’m still taking a wait and see approach. Unless I miss my guess, the LGBT legislative agenda will advance, but very slowly at first. Everybody should continue to withhold judgement and watch for the executive orders, which Obama can essentially do unilaterally.

Alex
January 19th, 2009 | LINK

Tinagrrl,

I realize that anti-gay violence has increased; that’s precisely my point. When there are so many actual problems to address, why are we wasting our time on the Gene Robinson “snub”?

You’ll give Obama time to get his act in order…or what? What does that mean? In my opinion, if Obama manages to fix the economy, resolve the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, make health care readily available, protect our borders from illegal immigration, create jobs, promote alternative energy, and improve America’s global image, yet fails to legalize same-sex marriage, I will still view his administration as a resounding success. Why? Because I look beyond the issues that are important to just me and try to view the big picture, which includes problems that affect everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. I strongly suggest you do the same.

Kristie
January 19th, 2009 | LINK

People are getting executed in the Middle East just for being gay, while over here we whine about a gay bishop whose prayer didn’t get airtime?!

Alex, you are right that there are gays in other countries that are being jailed and executed and tortured for simply being gay, but does that mean that the bias and prejudice gays face in this country should just be ignored? Why should anyone that is on the recieving end of unequal treatment just keep quiet about it? If you do that, then nothing ever changes. There’s an old saying that says, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” and it’s true. People who never make waves will never see that prejudice disappear, but those that stand up for themselves and demand to be treated equally can and do get results.

And, as a straight woman, I don’t think that the gay community is “whining”, nor do I think they should be thankful for the sad, little bones that get thrown their way by politicians that are just trying to get their vote. I’m pretty ticked off about the entire incident myself and I really hope that the GLBT community continues to take a stand on the unequal treatment they’ve been subjected too for far too long.

Andrew
January 19th, 2009 | LINK

No big surprise. This is part of a pattern – throughout the campaign Obama refused to be in a room with Gavin Newsome, for fear that a photo would be taken showing them together. Obama literally side-steps LGBT issues by ensuring he is never seen with any leader associated with gay rights. He may have pretty words and make the right noises, but this is not an auspicious beginning. We need to see some tangible results, or, yes, I will be happy to return to the fiscally conservative wing of the GOP.

tinagrrl
January 20th, 2009 | LINK

I was in an after hours joint the first night of Stonewall. Someone ran in to tell us all about it. Every one of us drunks laughed and said it was meaningless — all that would happen is people would be arrested, lose their jobs, and ruin their lives. We did not know it was a riot of those who had nothing more to lose.

It was not the first protest — there had been others out on the West coast — but it was the one that stuck. It was time.

Since then we’ve all moved forward.

Now, we are sliding back, we’ve got something to lose, we’ve become “gradualists” (AKA: “Uncle Toms”).

The fight for our rights is only important to us. It would be a fairly easy thing to implemrt — and would not take away from anything else.

Simple, easy, and not about to happen.

To a segment of the population we are the new ni***rs, to others we take the place of their hated “Jews” (after all, they HAVE to support Israel). We’re an easy sell. There aren’t that many of us — and a lot are hiding in one or another closet.

You know we are a lot more than 3% of the population, even if you don’t count all of the terrified.

If we will not fight for our own rights — who will?

Those who fought back at Stonewall, no matter the fact they were among the truly disenfranchised, have shown us all the truth of fighting back.

If you are not important to you — who will you be important to?

Alex
January 20th, 2009 | LINK

I’m still curious, Tinagrrl, will you measure the success of Obama’s administration solely by his stance on gay rights? That’s the impression I get from your comments, and I really hope I’m wrong.

I’m almost afraid to ask, but did you vote for Obama just because he was the more gay-friendly candidate?

tinagrrl
January 20th, 2009 | LINK

At risk of making this a dialogue – I voted for Obama even though my candidate was Hillary Clinton. From the beginning I saw Barack Obama as the most right wing of the Democrats running. His stance on most issues was to the right of Clinton.

I’m a Democrat. Under no circumstances could I possibly vote for a Republican — ever!

To0day both parties are well to the right of the nation. Both are “corporatists”. Neither lives up to the spirit of our past, of our founding documents.

Since I’m about to be 70 in a couple of months, my views may be very different from those who have never experienced the real freedom we once had.

LGBT rights are a very simple issue – treat all citizens as human. Treat all equally. Recognize how silly it is to kill , maim, harm, someone for who they love, who they sleep with. It does not affect your life — why obsess over it?

I voted for Obama simply because he was the better choice. He has made statements about equality, about gay righta, about bringing all to the table. His actions have been less inclusive. He’s seems determined to include those already included.

I’m far from a one issue person. As an example, I very strongly support the 2nd Amendment, and Obama is not the ideal candidate when looking at the issue of guns.

At the same time, MY rights as a CITIZEN have never been fully realized. I’ve been through some difficult times, having been attacked, etc. over the years. All I’m looking for is what everyone else already has.

SuzyQ
January 21st, 2009 | LINK

Hey Alex where did you come up with the 3% figure?

In my experience that figure is the one touted by right wingers and Christofascist peddlers of reparative therapy.

Generally speaking the figure is 10% for gay men. 5% lesbian. With some 20% of both men and women having bisexual experiences.

Among Transvestite or Transgender the figure is in the range of 1-2% and Transsexual 1 in 1000 people.

Now there is no doubt overlap of communities here but I think when we are talking LGBT/T 10% is possibly quite low.

As for out people and missing percentages closet cases in the Republican Party and among Evangelicals probably make those figures even higher.

Have a nice day, y’all.

Woman Rebel

Alex
January 22nd, 2009 | LINK

Hi SuzyQ,

Don’t worry, I’m neither a right-winger nor a Christofascist. It’s funny how people always think that when you present any figure less than ten percent ;-)

A 2008 study done by Hunter College and funded by the Human Rights Campaign found that “approximately 2.9% of the U.S. adult population consider themselves gay, lesbian, or bisexual.”

http://www.hrc.org/documents/Hunter_College_Report.pdf

Of course, we can argue over what “consider themselves” really means, and we can figure in the number of people who are closeted, deny their sexuality for whatever reason, and/or responded dishonestly in the study.

But regardless of whether the figure is three percent or ten percent, we’re still talking about millions of people, and discrimination is always wrong no matter how many people it affects. So I try not to get hung up on numbers.

Alex

SuzyQ
January 22nd, 2009 | LINK

I am not amused by emoticons. Nor am I convinced by your assertions.

I looked at the PDF the demographic statistic appears as an assertion with out foot note.

FYI many people who are gay do not identify as gay even when busted in their knees in a restroom reaching for the vice cop’s dick.

As a lesbian who lived a sort of Shane lifestyle for half of the 1970s I can attest to triple digits figures of straight women who enjoyed a “lesbian experience” with me until I finally got bored with that scene.

Timothy Kincaid
January 23rd, 2009 | LINK

SuzyQ,

The CDC figures from 2005 show 2.3% of men and 1.3% of women identify as gay and another 1.8% of men and 2.8% of women identify as bisexual (4.1% gay or bi for both).

While I think these numbers are likely to underrepresent the true number of persons solely or primarily attracted to the same sex, they give us a starting place from which to work.

Anecdotes from ones own life may shade the way in which each of us view the world around us, but they are not a good basis from which to make definitive statements.

Until there is better research, I’ll not be accepting your estimates of more than 10%.

SuzyQ
January 23rd, 2009 | LINK

Timothy Kincaid, “Until there is better research, I’ll not be accepting your estimates of more than 10%.”

There is. The study the the right wing loves to try and discredit. Kinsey’s.

Alex
January 23rd, 2009 | LINK

SuzyQ,

As I have already said, we are talking about millions of people regardless of whether the number is three percent or ten, and the injustice of discrimination does not change either way. So why are you debating this? What are you trying to prove?

Did you scroll down further than the first few pages of that Hunter College study? Because an executive summary customarily does not provide annotations; it summarizes information that appears later within the document, and the main body of a report is where you’ll find all the footnotes. But judging by how resistant you are to accept any number less than ten percent, I doubt a footnote would make any difference to you.

And between the two of us, at least I provided evidence for my claim. You have not. All you have done is referred to the Kinsey report and your many, many, many sexual partners in the ’70s. If you want to prove something, you have to rely on more than personal anecdotes and sixty-year-old data.

As for the emoticon…lighten up.

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