Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here is my letter

You may have heard that Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church, has been asked to give the invocation at President Obama's inauguration.

So what? you may wonder.

Well, it is a huge insult, and a visceral one, to the LGBT community.

The blogs I read are abuzz.

Noweeman has a post "Rick Warren? Are you kidding me?" at Daily Kos where it is currently the top recommended diary. You can also read BarbinMD's "Rick Warren?" there.
Warren dodged Waldman's question about whether he supported civil unions or domestic partnerships, answering instead, "I support full equal rights for everyone in America," adding that he only opposes a "redefinition" of marriage. He went on to say he's opposed to gay marriage the same way he is opposed to a brother and sister marrying (that would be incest), a man marrying a child (that would be statutory rape), or someone having multiple spouses (that would be polygamy). Pressed by Waldman, Warren said he considered those crimes equivalent to gay marriage. (The American Prospect, December 15, 2008)
At Americablog Joe Sudbay writes "Rick Warren is a major fail and a total affront":
If he's there on January 20th, I won't be. And, unlike Rick Warren, I actually worked hard to get Obama elected. It's weird and disturbing. 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.
The Human Rights Campaign sent a letter to Obama:
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.
John Aravosis has a long post with the above and other responses - "Obama picks homophobe pro-'Prop 8' evangelical preacher to give the invocation at inaugural "

Yes, Warren was one of the big-name proponents of Prop [H]8, right there with the RCC bishops and the Mormon Church.

Sad pony guerilla girl had a diary up yesterday titled "I don't care if you have gay friends." She begins:
Rick Warren, pastor at Saddlecreek Baptist Church, author of The Purpose-driven Life, and public thinker with the politics of James Dobson, wants us all to know that he can't be homophobic because he has gay friends.

She then tears that sappy excuse to shreds. For my money it ranks up there with the lie about hating the sin and loving the sinner. Anyone who says it is self-deluding (if not outright lying).
I don't care if these people have gay friends. Because if these folks think that their friends are perverts out to destroy the world, they're probably pretty shitty friends anyway.

So it's done. If you have a friend who's gay, it doesn't get you off the hook anymore. You still have to take responsibility for your beliefs, actions, and words. And if you can't do that, then your friends are putting up with a lot of crap from you, and you should just be grateful that you have any friends.

This movement isn't about people being friends. It's about autonomy, safety, and equality, but definitely not making friends. And if you're flapping your mouth about the sinfulness of a group of people, and that group of people is getting shot down in the streets, you really need to look up the definition of friendship in the dictionary. Because you're doing it wrong.
[Emphasis mine]

Greg Sargent writes about it at TPM (including the PFAW letter):
As you regulars know, this blog has argued that it's premature for liberals to get too agitated about Obama's cabinet picks and that we should wait to let his policies do the talking. But I'm not sure how you can defend this one, even if the two men are friends and the choice doesn't necessarily have actual policy implications.

After all, the decision really gives Warren an extraordinary platform -- not to mention yet another data point supporting the bogus notion that the radical Warren is some kind of "moderate." If the first black president doesn't mind him giving the invocation at his historic inaugural, how bad and bigoted can he really be?
John Amato discusses it at Crooks and Liars:
We've covered many of Warren's sins (Rick Warren is the new Jerry Falwell: 'The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers.') so why did Obama bring him on for this?

I've been very supportive of Obama so far, but I have to say that Obama's decision on this one is highly insulting.
Atrios (Duncan Black) has a post titled "Liars for Jesus" with quotes from Warren. His conclusion:
That's some lying we can believe in, my friends.
Kirk James Murphy has stronger words at Firedoglake:
President-elect Obama chose eliminationist hate preacher Rick Warren to give the invocation at Obama's Inaguration. With this choice, Obama sends three destructive messages. Number one: In Obama's America, equal rights and reproductive freedom aren't for everyone. Number two: President-elect Obama likes sharing the national stage with hate. Number three: While Obama enjoys his equality before the law, LGBT Americans can go to Hell. Literally. Gee. Is this change we can believe in? Does Obama's America include GLBT's, along with the fundamentalists who want to take away their rights?


There are many preachers in America who don't hate gays; who don't have all these "concidental" associations in their past. It would be simple enough for Obama to show that he believes in tolerance and equality by choosing one of them. If not, who he chooses here, will be used, fairly, to judge who he is.
As you may infer, I don't intend to cut Obama any slack on this one. My background has way too much of the sanctimonious haters in it.

Noweeman includes this in one of his updates:
As suggested by a number of commenters, you can email Parag Mehta - his email address is: - with your opinion. He is Obama's LGBT liaison on the transition team.
My letter is below.

Dear Mr. Mehta:

I have noted, via several blogs, that Rick Warren is being asked to give the invocation at the inauguration.

I am sure you will hear many voices, pro and con, about this. Here are my thoughts.

Rick Warren is famous and comes across as affable. He is also, that veneer notwithstanding, not all that different from Don Wildmon or James Dobson. He is a well-known homophobe who equates gay relationships with incest and bestiality. His thinking in this area is ignorant and, because of the influence he wields in conservative circles, harmful to the LGBT community as it undergirds their oppression and continued second-class status among the American citizenry.

He is entitled to his view, of course, but that the Obama team would give a man like this such a platform and validation is a slap in the face to all LGBT Americans.

Make no mistake about it; this is a visceral insult.

I have had to cope with my own sister putting a Yes on Prop 8 sign up on her lawn. She is a conservative evangelical and a Republican, so although this was a gratuitous insult to her own brother it was not surprising.

But to have a Democratic transition team that proclaims "hope" and "change" to sponsor an affable bigot really comes as a surprise, a disappointment, and an insult. We would expect this of a Republican administration catering to the religious right.

I urge President-elect Obama and the transition team to reconsider. You should not be inviting distrust, disappointment, and a feeling of betrayal in such a large segment of your supporters so early on. This hits us where we live, it is an issue of millennia of injustice being perpetuated in our own time, and you will lose huge amounts of good will.

It may be too late. I hope it is not.

Please do not betray your friends and supporters.

Thank you.


The Rev. Paul E. Strid

"Do not give your heart to that which does not satisfy your heart." --Abba Poemen

John Aravosis has a great spoof up at Huffington Post that captures the context, the impact, and my feelings about Dianne Feinstein.
--the BB


it's margaret said...

Good letter Paul.

I met Rick Warren while living in southern Ca. He made my skin crawl eeepy creepy...

I abhor this decision to give him a national stage one more time.

Jane R said...

Yuck! (The decision, not your letter.) I can't believe this!

Jane R said...

P.S. Very good letter, Paul.

I am appalled.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Very good letter!

And yes, appalling choice. No change at all!

Wormwood's Doxy said...

I was otherwise occupied late yesterday, so did not get this news until this morning.

I am sickened. I have written my own e-mail---but am so totally disheartened by the choice that I'm not even sure that his backtracking on it will undo the damage.

Of all the choices he could have made...

susan s. said...

Yes, the letter is good. I sent one much less effective than yours, I know, but I had to say something. Will we hear back, do you suppose?

susankay said...

Paul -- the Obama Campaign (to which Brad and I each contributed the max allowed by law) made the mistake of an e-mail today asking for $$ for the inaugural. I replied to say that, given the selection of a homophobe to deliver the invocation, I'd save my $$ to continue to support efforts to overturn Prop H8.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Excellent letter, Paul. I added it as an update to my post. I hope that is OK.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Paul, your letter is excellent. I added it as an update to my post. I hope that is OK.