Gay community slams Obama on inauguration pastor pick


by Andy Birkey • Leaders in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community expressed their outrage Wednesday over plans by President-elect Barack Obama to have Rick Warren, pastor at California’s Saddleback Church, deliver the invocation during his Jan. 20 inauguration. Warren was a supporter of California’s Proposition 8, an initiative that rescinded marriage rights for same-sex couples. Obama’s decision has generated anger and distrust from many corners of the community.

The Human Rights Campaign sent an open letter to Obama:

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.

People for the American Way responded:

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.

Joe Sudbay, writing for AmericaBlog, said, “I’d expect George Bush to have a homophobe on the stage. But Obama? That’s not the kind of change I expected, and it’s not change I can believe in.”

Blogger Pam Spaulding wrote, “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 so many leaders of the faith community that are in alignment with equality for all.”

The Slog at the Seattle Stranger said, “Why? Because this kind of dog-whistling to the religious right gets politicians reelected. (See, esp., George W. Bush.)”