Friday, August 03, 2007

Gay Bishop Blesses Incrementalism

"He's my favorite because he beats his kids with his hand instead of a stick," is not what Bishop Gene Robinson said of Presidential would-be Barack Obama. On marriage equality, he might as well have.

When I first saw that the New Hampshire-based Robinson, the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop, endorsed Obama, I was a bit stunned. Obama is in the cowardly coven of Dem hopefuls who mumble about being for equality everywhere, but stumble on gay rights and marriage equality.

(Apropos of little: Mumble and Stumble, that's both a good name for a rock band and a nice tee-shirt for the current crop of Dem hopefuls.)

I had avoided researching how Robinson could reconcile 1) endorsing any candidate and 2) endorsing one who mixes his personal religion and rituals with civil contacts and civil rights. Fortunately, others have done the work.

Submitted for your consideration:
  • Why at all? The AP brief yesterday had the gist with "The bishop said his endorsement was as an individual, not as bishop. He said it would be inappropriate to speak about the campaign from the pulpit or at any church function, so he won't do it. But he said as a private citizen, he will be at campaign events to help in any way he can." Of course, that's bovine feces. Saying that already belies his distance, but in a gentle, Episcopal sort of way.
  • Why an anti-SSM candidate? Today's Campaign Notebook in the Boston Globe had the inspiration for my lead. They quote him as, "At this moment we have no viable candidate who is where we would like them to be on these issues." So Robinson seems to consider Obama the least stained of the sordid bunch on this.
For actual insight, it's best to head to The Advocate, which featured a short, but powerful Q&A with Robinson. To the points in question, consider:
Critics point out that he doesn't have an extensive voting record on LGBT issues as compared to some of the other candidates, so he's a bit of an unknown—even though he supports most of our issues, except for marriage equality. Does that concern you at all?

All of the Democratic candidates are very good on these issues, and none of them is as good as they ought to be, and he falls into that category. He and I have talked about this personally and I have told him that I will be pushing him on gay marriage while at the same time being grateful of his support for civil unions. His particular journey, both personal and political, I don't think has given him a lot of opportunities to have a track record, but what I can tell you is that the warmth, generosity, and enthusiasm with which he has welcomed me and the way he talks about LGBT issues makes me very comfortable with him.
My own questions would include, to Robinson, couldn't you counsel him strongly to stop muddling civil rights and religious rites, and convince him to stand up for equality? To us all, do we trust good-hearted if a bit soft-headed types such as Robinson to sway any winning candidate after the election?

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John Hosty said...

As we see from Don't Ask Don't Tell, when we allow the marginalization of our rights it makes people believe that what was given was enough.

Only when we are all strongly speaking up for ourselves will we have true equality. I believe in thirty years we will look back on this election with the same distaste we do for how blacks were treated in the 1960's. That's a long time to wait, and I would rather not let equality grow at its own pace. Surely our heritage calls for us to move from comfort into conflict over what we believe is right.

Mass Marrier said...

You and I agree on this, John, but many seem to like the ideas of not moving fast and getting better-than-the-current fools elected first. I can't accept that any improvement is better than none as the answer. Instead, the question should be is equality right? Well, it is, so that's what you demand.

We have time for the front runners to start with DOMA is wrong, immoral and illegal.

janinsanfran said...

Bishop Robinson coming out for Obama is beyond me. Don't get it at all.

All I can say is that I have met the guy and on some level, he is a little politically naive. I think this has been something of a protection for him personally (you know he has to wear a bullet proof vest often?) because he just keeps on keeping on acting as if people were going to respond to him out of their goodness. And that is disarming, sometimes.

But this endorsement seems unnecessarily clueless.

Mass Marrier said...

jain, that's the best explanation I have heard so far. I"ve known a lot of clerics in my time and blind faith in other humans covers much of their clueless behavior.