After nearly nine years of blogging, and 18 years of online organizing, I’m still routinely amazed by the power of the progressive blogosphere, and more generally the power of the Internet for political advocacy. To wit: The case of Louie Giglio, a southern pastor who was chosen to give the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration. And, thanks to the blog ThinkProgress, we now know he’s also an anti-gay bigot.
It all started Tuesday when the Obama inaugural committee announced that Louie Giglio was going to be giving the benediction at this inaugural swearing in ceremony:
Within a day the blog – and in particular, the blog ThinkProgress and their blogger Josh Israel – uncover past comments by Louie Giglio that are incredibly homophobic. You see, Giglio thinks gays are sinful (not that unusual), can be cured of their gay-ness (a bit more unusual), and he deems them a “malfunction” (okay, that one’s pretty out there).
And the story goes BOOM!
Part of what helped this story explode was what happened four years ago, during the first Obama inaugural. They invited a preacher for that event too, and he was another right-wing hater, Rick Warren, who just happened to have been involved with the passage of Pr0p 8 in California, repealing marriage equality in that state, just months before the swearing in.
The Warren imbroglio was a huge controversy in the weeks before the inauguration. And it was fed, in great part, by the progressive blogs.
Fast-forward to 2013, and the same thing appears to be happening all over again. Just take one look at tomorrow’s NYT. The article about the Louie Giglio controversy cites three sources. ThinkProgress (a blog). Wayne Besen (not quite a blogger, but a more-or-less individual player who created his own small and nimble online organization dogging the religious right, and especially the “ex-gays” who claim they can cure homosexuality). And me – they quoted my blog post on Louie Giglio, and I didn’t even realize it was in the story until I got to the end of it.
So basically, this story was exposed by a blog, and fanned by the larger progressive Netroots, which I’d consider Wayne Besen a part of, rather than by large advocacy groups or the major media. I’m not knocking large advocacy groups or the media – I believe both serve a useful purpose. I’m just kind of amazed that for the second time in a row, the Netroots have cast a shadow on the President’s inauguration, and for the second time in a row, it’s over a gay snafu.
And it gets even better. Now there’s a petition on the White House Web demanding that Louie Giglio be replaced. More independent progressive advocacy in action.
For any who question the importance or usefulness of what bloggers do, I think this is a good illustration that whatever you say about us, we do have our moments.