Memo to Big O:
Bad move, buddy.
No, you're not going to lose any lgbt votes in 2012 because you picked the clerical embodiment of Dubya (remember the compassionate conservative persona? that's Rick Warren in a nutshell) to invoke your shared deity at the inauguration. After all, did Bill Clinton lose any African-American votes because of his attack on Sister Souljah? Doubtful.
But consider this difference: Clinton's barely coded performance of white solidarity at least was timed for before the election. Somewhere, somehow he probably picked up a few white votes as a result. Maybe that's how he carried Georgia and Tennessee – the last time either was blue.
Your election is over, pal. You won't lose any votes next time over this, but do you really believe you're going to gain any? The reason that you won't lose any is that voters four years from now will have forgotten about Rick Warren. And the reason that you're not going to gain any is that voters four years from now …
I know what you're banking on – the appeal to Americans of the anti-ideologue, the leader who solves problems, who "reaches across the aisle." But when principles are important, the public also wants a leader who has a few, who stands for something, who isn't constantly trying to please and accommodate anyone who agrees with him on anything. Bottom line, pandering to Rick Warren evokes the worst of Bill Clinton.
Governing from the center of the Democratic Party is smart, but Warren is no Democrat. I am reminded of something I heard Barney Frank say a couple of weeks ago: "Every time Obama talks about post-partisan politics, I get post-partisan depression."
Here's a little secret: the Republicans in Congress are going to fight you viciously. They don't give a rat's ass about Rick Warren or Prop 8. There are billions of dollars on the table, and whatever signaling effects come from your reinforcement of your own wimpiness on Prop 8 will matter not a bit to them. (Although it sure doesn't help with the repair of lgbt-black collaboration in CA — remember community organizing?) You're going to have to do a lot more than play nice-nice with Rick Warren to pick up any Republican votes on your legislation.
As for the religious right's ground troops, I expect that you will do many things as President to restore reproductive choice and to advance equality for lgbt Americans. You will appoint high-ranking lgbt officials and put your muscle behind important policy changes. That's why you'll get those lgbt votes — and lose the wingers — when you campaign for re-election.
So this is your best case scenario - Barney and I are wrong, and your proposals engender less fierce opposition than, say, Clinton faced, because you've proved that you can be one of the boys when it comes to lgbt issues. If you're lucky, historians may even compare your moves on this issue to how FDR mollified white racists in order to get his New Deal legislation (with many of the programs segregated) through Congress. FDR struck a deal with the devil, but given the power that southerners held in Congress at that time, it may have been unavoidable. At least the country got the New Deal.
What will we get from you?