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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama's New Pastor Problem

Just when we thought the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was behind us, President-elect Barack Obama has a new pastor problem. In selecting Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the Inaugural on Jan. 20, Obama stuck a finger into the eye of every LGBT person in America.

You would think by now that he would be a tad more sensitive to this group of Americans who worked their asses off for him, helped raise and donated millions of dollars to his campaign and where 70 percent voted for him despite his opposition to same-sex marriage.

We overwhelmingly trusted this man to deliver the change we need and have long sought. But there were earlier warnings that, after some protests from gay activists, were generally forgotten as the dramatic campaign moved forward. Obama's controversial choice of gospel singer Donnie McLurkin--an anti-gay, ex-gay--to join him during the South Carolina primary campaign was not a good sign. But Obama at least acknowledged the mistake.

Now he chooses Rick Warren of the Saddleback mega-Church to have a prominat role in a high profile historic event. The gay community is not the only sector of the progressive wing who is upset. Besides his anti-gay marriage stance, Rev. Warren is anti-choice and anti-stem cell research.

Rick Warren, although he has been a friend of Obama, should not have been chosen. The decision is angering gays and lesbians all over the country. Warren was very vocal in support of Prop. 8. [See video clip below.] We understand Obama's desire to govern the entire nation, but really, did the GOP ever bring in lefty preachers to officiate major events?

Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign has written a letter to Obama asking him to reconsider. Here's an excerpt:

"...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."

That about sums it up. Another pastor problem for Obama. Another headache for him and for all of us. I do feel he owes us now.


Anonymous said...

Obama made it clear from the start that he was not in favor of gay marriage. Though he was more friendly to our culture than the opposition during the campaign. It has also been clear that he has been straddling the fence.

Like you I am disappointed.

Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign asked Mr. Obama to reconsider his selection. I disagree. First, it is just plain rude to uninvite a guest. But more than that we should consider that Pastor Warren is considered by most Christian folk to be to the center, if not left, of the faith. This is hard to fathom from a gay perspective. Yet that is how he is perceived.

I don't want to see the President-elect bow to popular opinion, even if it's my opinion. It would be a sign of weakness that his enemies, who are often our enemies as well, could use to diminish his influence. I think we should reserve our ire for the biggest offenders; Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Lou Sheldon, and their ilk.

Let's consider Pastor Warren's presence like that of one who farts at the table. Sure it stinks!

But gracious men and women of polite demeanor continue like gentlefolk; showing their good breeding and lovely manners.

Anonymous said...

The damage to my hopes for support from this administration for GLBT equality is done. You're correct Steve, this is a finger in the eye, and a painful one. The only way to repair it would be to rescind the Warren invitation. Not gonna happen.

The more serious issue, in my opinion, is that this is a continuation of the pandering to religious conservatives that has been practiced by the Republicans since Reagan. Why does Obama feel he has to do this? It makes no sense to me. It's not going to get the evangelicals on board for any of Obama's programs.

Warren is hardly a centrist Christian by the way. I don't know where people are getting that idea, especially after listening to him on Prop 8.

Let's hope that this "outreach" to the religious right stops after Inauguration Day. Let's pray (no pun intended) that it's really a kiss-off-the-Bible-thumpers gesture, although I would doubt it. It seems more of a kiss off to gays and lesbians.

Guess we'll just have to stayed tuned and keep on fightin'