[Marxism] Homophobic bible thumper to perform Obama's invocation
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Dec 17 16:40:02 MST 2008
(Posted on lbo-talk by Doug Henwood)
Gay activists furious with Obama
By: Ben Smith and Nia-Malika Henderson
December 17, 2008 06:32 PM EST
Barack Obama's choice of a prominent evangelical minister to perform
the invocation at his inauguration is a conciliatory gesture toward
social conservatives who opposed him in November, but it is drawing
fierce challenges from a gay rights movement that in the wake of a
gay marriage ban in California is looking for a fight.
Rick Warren, the senior pastor of Saddleback Church in southern
California, opposes abortion rights but has taken more liberal
stances on the government role in fighting poverty, and backed away
from other evangelicals' staunch support for economic conservatism.
But it's his support for the California constitutional amendment to
ban same-sex marriage that drew the most heated criticism from
"Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at
your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans," the president
of Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solomonese, wrote Obama Wednesday.
"[W]e 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."
The rapid, angry reaction from a range of gay activists comes as the
gay rights movement looks for an opportunity to flex its political
muscle. Last summer gay groups complained, but were rebuffed by
Obama, when an "ex-gay" singer led Obama's rallies in South Carolina.
And many were shocked last month when voters approved the California ban.
"There is a lot of energy and there's a lot of anger and I think
people are wanting to direct it somewhere," Solomonese told Politico.
The selection of Warren to preside at the inauguration is not a
surprise move, but it is a mirror image of President Bill Clinton's
early struggles with issues of gay rights. Obama has worked, and at
times succeeded, to bridge the gap between Democrats and evangelical
Christians, who form a solid section of the Republican base.
Obama opposes same-sex marriage, but also opposed the California
constitutional amendment Warren backed. In selecting Warren, he is
choosing to reach out to conservatives on a hot-button social issue,
at the cost of antagonizing gay voters who overwhelmingly supported him.
Clinton, by contrast, drew early praise from gay rights activists by
pressing to allow openly gay soldiers to serve, only to retreat into
the "don't ask, don't tell" compromise that pleased few.
The reaction Wednesday in gay rights circles was universally negative.
"It's a huge mistake," said California gay rights activist Rick
Jacobs, who chairs the state's Courage Campaign. "He's really the
wrong person to lead the president into office.
"Can you imagine if he had a man of God doing the invocation who had
deliberately said that Jews are not going to be saved and therefore
should be excluded from what's going on in America? People would be
up in arms," he said.
The editor of the Washington Blade, Kevin Naff, called the choice
"Obama's first big mistake."
"His presence on the inauguration stand is a slap in the faces of the
millions of GLBT voters who so enthusiastically supported him," Naff
wrote, referring to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.
"This tone-deafness to our concerns must not be tolerated. We have
just endured eight years of endless assaults on our dignity and
equality from a president beholden to bigoted conservative
Christians. The election was supposed to have ended that era. It
Other liberal groups chimed in.
"Rick Warren gets plenty of attention through his books and media
appearances. He doesn't need or deserve this position of honor," said
the president of People for the American Way, Kathryn Kolbert, who
described Warren as "someone who has in recent weeks actively
promoted legalized discrimination and denigrated the lives and
relationships of millions of Americans."
Warren's spokeswoman did not respond to a message seeking comment,
but he has tried to blend personal tolerance with doctrinal approval
"I have many gay friends, I've eaten dinner in gay homes. No church
has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church,"
he said in a recent interview with BeliefNet.
In the same interview, he compared the "redefiniton of a marrige" to
include gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy.
Obama's move may deepen some apparent distance between him among gays
and lesbians, one of the very few core Democratic groups among whom
his performance was worse than John Kerry's in 2004. Exit polls
suggested that John McCain won 27% of the gay vote in November, up
four points from Bush's 2004 tally even as almost all other voters
slid toward Obama.
But despite the symbolism of picking Warren, Obama is likely to shift
several substantive policy areas in directions that will please gay
voters and their political leaders, including a pledge to end "don't
ask, don't tell" in military service.
And some gay activists were holding out hope that they would either
persuade Obama to dump Warren or Warren to change his mind.
"Rick Warren did a real disservice to gay families in California and
across the country by casually supporting our continued exclusion
from marriage," said the founder of the pro-same sex marriage Freedom
to Marry, Evan Wolfson. "I hope in the spirit of the new era that's
dawning, he will open his heart and speak to all Americans about
inclusion and our country's commitment to equality."
© 2008 Capitol News Company, LLC
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