Obama Refuses to Buckle Under Pressure From Gay Activists

Deal W. Hudson
December 22, 2008

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, called it “magnanimous.” I must admit, I certainly didn’t expect it. The gesture from President-elect Obama of tapping Evangelical pastor, Rick Warren, to deliver the inaugural prayer deserves recognition and congratulations from those, like myself, who have criticized his positions on abortion and other social issues.

Obama may have thought he was making the “safe” choice of a moderate Evangelical who had invited him to speak at his influential Southern California church in December 2006. But the wounds are still open over the recent passage of Proposition 8 in California, amending the definition of marriage in the state constitution to a union between a man and a woman.

Warren publicly supported Proposition 8 and took heat from “progressive” Evangelicals as a result. Now Obama is taking a tremendous amount of criticism from prominent and powerful members of his base. From the Human Rights Campaign, the leading edge of the gay lobby, to Hollywood political activists, the disappointment of Obama supporters is loud and clear.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said the invitation to Warren was as much of an insult to gays as inviting an anti-Semite would be to Jewish Americans. The invitation from the Obama campaign to an LBGT (lesbian, bi-sexual, gay, transgender) group to march in the inaugural parade for the first time does not “heal this wound.” (“Hey, we’re also bringing a gay marching band. You know how the gays love a parade,” Solmonese said.)

The HRC president is clear about what it will take to make up for the insult; Obama needs “to put some meat on the bone” by appointing someone from the LBGT community to his administration. Evidently, gay activists have been feeling left out of the appointments already announced. Other groups who supported Obama have their appointees, “Yet, we’re the ones left waiting for some real evidence of inclusion.”

In Hollywood, where opposition to Proposition 8 generated as much energy as the campaign, the Warren invitation was a “betrayal.” One prominent Democrat consultant, Chad Griffin, cleverly turned his guns on Warren, asking him to step aside. “Rick Warren needs to realize that he is further dividing us at a time when the country needs to come together,” he said.

He dismissed the invitation as an “innocent mistake of the transition team,” evidently not taking the president-elect at his word that he deliberately chose Warren as a gesture to the social conservatives who did not support him. At his December 18 press conference, he affirmed his support for gay and lesbian equality, adding, “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.”

In defending his choice of Warren, Obama went further than arguing for inclusion: He argued for civility. “We can disagree without being disagreeable, and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.”

Who can argue with that? Too bad it is only the political right that gets tagged by the media for bad manners. The president-elect may have to rap some liberal knuckles to convince them he really wants a better public tone from everyone.

Many have called Obama’s choice of Warren “shrewd.” That may be, or perhaps Obama means what he says. We will see. In the meantime, I congratulate the president-elect for inviting Warren and I admire his refusal to back down under pressure from the extreme wing of his political base.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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