Gays and God and Obama

Before heading to the Vatican, Obama met with reporters from a number of Catholic publications–and the Washington Post–and the big gay news is just leaking out. Here’s what Obama had to say about his faith and the LGBT community.

For the gay and lesbian community in this country, I think it’s clear that they feel victimized in fairly powerful ways and they’re often hurt by not just certain teachings of the Catholic Church, but the Christian faith generally. And as a Christian, I’m constantly wrestling with my faith and my solicitude and regard and concern for gays and lesbians.

Dan Gilgoff, religion writer at U.S. News and World Report, called the comment “trademark Obama, seeming to effortlessly appeal to cultural conservatives and social liberals in the same breath. Religious folks, cultural conservatives included, will appreciate that Obama takes his faith seriously enough that he’s struggling with how to reconcile it with his commitment to gays and lesbians. Social liberals and the LGBT community will appreciate that he’s unequivocal about that commitment.”

TowleRoad was cool to Obama’s comments, suggesting “I’m not sure this will be read as favorably as the blogger believes. As with most of the president’s actions and words on gay issues, the glass can just as easily be judged half full of gay power as half empty of resolve.”

But those in the meeting–including Paul Baumann, the editor of the center-left Catholic publication Commonweal–viewed the comments more favorably by suggesting that Obama, “like many of us, is still trying to sort out Christianity’s traditional condemnation of homosexuality with our experience of the goodness and faithfulness of gays and lesbians.”

These are the kinds of comments that often cause overreaction by some in the LGBT community who aren’t as comfortable with the way Christians, especially, talk about LGBT issues. There are many, though, who are in faith communities and will likely hear the comments in a very different way

Obama’s comments came in response to, from all appearances,  a “gotcha” question by Fr. Owen Kearns, publisher of the conservative National Catholic Register. According to Fr. Drew Christiansen, editor of the Jesuit-weekly America, Kearns asked about anti-Catholic comments made by the Obama administration which he attributed to Joshua Du Bois, the director of the White House Office for Faith-based and Neighborhood Initiatives.  Turns out, it wasn’t Du Bois who made the allegedly anti-Catholic comments, but instead Harry Knox, the religious liaison for the Human Rights Campaign and a member of an White House faith based advisory board.

Here’s Christiansen on the ambush question:

Journalists should know that if you are going to call an official out to his face you ought to have your facts straight. But nothing can deter the Catholic right’s idee fixe that Barack Obama is bound and determined to do the worst he can by the pro-life agenda, even when their position is shown up as empty prejudice as it was that morning.

Kerry Eleveld at The Advocate notes that Knox is in the Catholic right’s crosshairs for criticizing the Vatican’s position on decriminalizing homosexuality and the Pope’s recent comments on HIV/AIDS.


5 Responses

  1. wouldn’t YOU feel victimized if you were described as “immoral, disordered, and evil”?

  2. How do you type, Michael, while standing on your head to see more excuses for another Obama f up?

    What if he’d said,

    “I’m constantly wrestling with my faith and my solicitude and regard and concern for [the Jews who killed Christ].” or

    “I’m constantly wrestling with my faith and my solicitude and regard and concern for [adulterous women who should be stoned to death].”

    Of course he wouldn’t because he knows, as black gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin pointed out over 20 years ago, “Gays are the new ‘[N-word]'” about whom politicians can get away with saying anything they’d never dare say about other groups such as blacks or Jews or women.

    Obama COULD HAVE answered, “I know there are differences of opinion about how religion should apply to gay rights but as the leader of a nation which treasures separation of Church and State as much as we treasure our freedom of belief I must remind everyone that the latter must never be allowed to cancel out the former.”

    As a state legislator once noted about his own responsibility: “I put my hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution not my hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible!”

    This kind of INDEFENSIBLE BULLS*** is what helped Prop H8TE pass after the H8TERS used a recording of Obama saying “God is in the mix” in robocalls to millions of California voters.

    He just endorsed Biblical homohatred!!! Stop treating him like a goddamn five year old who had a good reason for spilling scalding soup on his baby sister, or didnt mean to. He’s the most powerful man in the world to whom statues have been imagined built on his brilliant eloquence alone and he must be held responsible for the harm the power of his words do.

  3. You call yourself a journalist, write in the name of an organization of journalists, and still felt impelled to change the direct quote from Bayard Rustin, that I placed in the appropriate quotation marks, to “[N-word]”?

    God pity the Mark Twain estate if you get your cyber blue pencil on “Huckleberry Finn.”

    And why did YOU not employ “F-word” when you recently wrote about, “Perez’s defense of calling Black Eyed Peas member Will.I.Am a “faggot” …”?

    • Michael:

      I am the administrator of this blog. I asterisked your use of the word bulls*** and I edited out the N-word. We can disagree on this point, but I don’t see a need to gratuitously allow the use of expletives or epithets on this blog. Your points were made without the need to display those words in full.

      As for your example of the use of the word “faggot” in previous posts, we are a blog about fair and accurate coverage of LGBT issues. Whether we like it or not, “faggot” will surface as an epithet to be discussed on this blog. How and when to use it will be a hit and miss proposition, you can judge us accordingly.


  4. […] but it seems to me to be more symbolic than anything. In an interview prior to his departure, Obama had this to say: For the gay and lesbian community in this country, I think it’s clear that they feel victimized […]

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