(UPDATE: Have complaints to share? Email Parag Mehta is Obama’s LGBT liaison on the transition team – firstname.lastname@example.org)
I can understand the selection of Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, a revered veteran of the civil rights movement co-founder with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to deliver the benediction at Obama’s inauguration, but how on earth could he select fundie Rick Warren to do the invocation? Kyle at Right Wing Watch asked the same question and said:
As we’ve pointed out several times before, in 2004 Warren declared that marriage, reproductive choice, and stem cell research were “non-negotiable” issues for Christian voters and has admitted that the main difference between himself and James Dobson is a matter of tone. He criticized Obama’s answers at the Faith Forum he hosted before the election and vowed to continue to pressure him to change his views on the issue of reproductive choice. He came out strongly in support of Prop 8, saying “there is no need to change the universal, historical defintion of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population … This is not a political issue — it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about.” He’s declared that those who do not believe in God should not be allowed to hold public office.
Obama inaugural team, this is a big f*ck up a la Donnie McClurkin. No, it’s worse. These folks can’t claim they didn’t know where Warren stood on the matter of civil rights for LGBTs — why look, here’s Warren speaking out in favor of Prop 8 (h/t Teddy Partridge):
UPDATE: Here’s a nice tidbit about Warren. He thought of his support for Prop 8 as a “free speech” matter. Via Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin:
Rick Warren:Oh I do. I just… For five thousand years, marriage has been defined by every single culture and every single religion — this is not a Christian issue. Buddhists, Muslims, the Jews, historically marriage is a man and a woman. And so I’m opposed to that. And the reason I supported Prop 8 really, was a free speech issue. Because if it had…. First, the court overid the will of the people. But second, is, there were all kinds of threats that if you… that did not pass, then any pastor could be considered doing hate speech if he shared his views that he didn’t think homosexuality was the most natural way for relationships. And that would be hate speech. To me, we should have freedom of speech. And you should be able to have freedom of speech to make your position, and I should be able to have freedom of speech to make my position. And can we do this in a civil way?
This selection is clearly not about “change” — it’s about making a high profile decision to give the stage over to a known homophobe; choosing Rick Warren is tantamount to asking any of the professional “Christian” set to stand up there. There is no excuse for this, given there are so many leaders of the faith community out there that are in alignment with equality for all.
UPDATE 2: More below the fold, including reactions from LGBT and progressive organizations (I’m adding them as they come in). People For the American Way’s President Kathryn Kolbert:
It is a grave disappointment to learn that pastor Rick Warren will give the invocation at the inauguration of Barack Obama.HRC’s response (via email):
Pastor Warren, while enjoying a reputation as a moderate based on his affable personality and his church’s engagement on issues like AIDS in Africa, has said that the real difference between James Dobson and himself is one of tone rather than substance. He has recently compared marriage by loving and committed same-sex couples to incest and pedophilia. He has repeated the Religious Right’s big lie that supporters of equality for gay Americans are out to silence pastors. He has called Christians who advance a social gospel Marxists. He is adamantly opposed to women having a legal right to choose an abortion.
I’m sure that Warren’s supporters will portray his selection as an appeal to unity by a president who is committed to reaching across traditional divides. Others may explain it as a response to Warren inviting then-Senator Obama to speak on AIDS and candidate Obama to appear at a forum, both at his church. But the sad truth is that this decision further elevates someone who has in recent weeks actively promoted legalized discrimination and denigrated the lives and relationships of millions of Americans.
Dear President-elect Obama -Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
Let me get right to the point. Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans. Our loss in California over the passage of Proposition 8 which stripped loving, committed same-sex couples of their given legal right to marry is the greatest loss our community has faced in 40 years. And by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.
Rick Warren has not sat on the sidelines in the fight for basic equality and fairness. In fact, Rev. Warren spoke out vocally in support of Prop 8 in California saying, “there is no need to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population … This is not a political issue — it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about.” Furthermore, he continues to misrepresent marriage equality as silencing his religious views. This was a lie during the battle over Proposition 8, and it’s a lie today.
Rev. Warren cannot name a single theological issue that he and vehemently, anti-gay theologian James Dobson disagree on. Rev. Warren is not a moderate pastor who is trying to bring all sides together. Instead, Rev. Warren has often played the role of general in the cultural war waged against LGBT Americans, many of whom also share a strong tradition of religion and faith.
We have been moved by your calls to religious leaders to own up to the homophobia and racism that has stood in the way of combating HIV and AIDS in this country. And that you have publicly called on religious leaders to open their hearts to their LGBT family members, neighbors and friends.
But in this case, we feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination. Only when Rev. Warren and others support basic legislative protections for LGBT Americans can we believe their claim that they are not four-square against our rights and dignity. In that light, we urge you to reconsider this announcement.
Human Rights Campaign
“President-elect Obama campaigned on a theme of inclusivity, yet the selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation is a direct affront to that very principle. This was a divisive choice, and clearly not one that will help our country come together and heal. We urge President-elect Obama to withdraw his invitation to Rick Warren and instead select a faith leader who embraces fairness, equality and the ideals the president-elect himself has called the nation to uphold.”
Leah Mcelrath Renna, Managing Partner Of Renna Communications, said this at Huff Post:
“The Presidential Inaugural Committee, at the direction of President-elect Obama…will organize an inclusive and accessible inauguration that…unites the nation around our shared values and ideals.”Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, one of 12 organizations involved with the Presidential Appointments Project. It’s an effort to ensure LGBT Americans get a share of the thousands of presidential appointments Barack Obama will make over the course of his administration (oh, the irony):
Shared values and ideals? Let’s let Rick Warren speak for himself.
Here’s Rick Warren equating marriage equality for same-sex couples with incest and pedophilia:
“The issue to me, I’m not opposed to that as much as I’m opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I’m opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.”
Of course, the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage that Warren refers to in the first part of this quote were essentially property contracts that did involve “one guy having multiple wives” – but that’s beside the point of this piece.
…Here’s Rick Warren talking – in 2004 – about how HIV/AIDS was not an issue of concern for him until recently:
“Two years ago HIV/AIDS was not on my agenda; it was not even a blip on my radar.” [emphasis added]
The deaths of more than 500,000 American citizens – the vast majority of whom were men who had sex with men – simply didn’t register on Warren’s radar over the course of more than two decades. The disease finally and rightly became a cause of concern for Warren and the Christians to whom he speaks when his wife brought to his attention the plight of children in Africa orphaned by the pandemic.
Same-sex relationships equal incestuous and pedophiliac abuses. Equal protection under the law for lesbian and gay American citizens isn’t the same thing as civil rights. The lives and deaths of gay men less important than those of children or orphans.
The sad reality is that American gay men and lesbians have heard it all before.
But we didn’t expect to have such values and ideals validated by this President-Elect at this Inauguration.
“Rick Warren has caused the LGBT community great pain, so the report today that he has been invited to offer the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration is unsettling news. For more than a year we have coordinated a community-wide effort to facilitate the inclusion of LGBT Americans at the highest levels of decision-making in Washington. The decision to invite such a controversial figure to this historic event leads me to question whether any LGBT individuals were consulted, and highlights the importance of building an administration that includes qualified LGBT Americans who are ready to serve their country.”