A thoughtful friend forwarded this comment off an Obama listserv where the Warren pick is a hot topic, and asked me how I felt about it:
While I certainly disagree with some of Rev. Warrens views I feel the need to point out that complete intolerance of others’ views is one of the things we hated about the Bush administration. President-elect Obama asking someone with whom he disagrees on issues to be part of a celebration of our democracy is pretty much exactly what he said he would do.
Having Rick Warren five the invocation at the inaugural will not make Obama any less pro-gay or pro-choice. What it will do is show the millions of Americans who did not vote for him that he will include them in the discussion even when he disagrees with them. Obama’s desire and ability to reach out to people with a variety of beliefs is one of the many reasons that I supported and voted for him.
Amen. I couldn’t agree more. In terms of needing to keep the dialogue open, even with people who believe we shouldn’t be equal, I’m all for it. I’m proud of a President-elect who will do that in the face of opposition. Because it is right.
I’m not incensed that Obama asked someone who hates gays to speak at his inauguration. Honestly? It hurts when someone I respect and admire chooses someone who hates me to speak…but that’s free speech and that is tolerance. I can live with it.
What bothers me is he asked someone to speak at his inauguration who does not believe in equal rights for all Americans. Such a person has no place in an inauguration of any president.
I think both the gay (and non-gay) community who support same-sex marriage and those who oppose it have gotten a little mixed up over what is the core issue here: it’s equality, not marriage.
The right to marry is something tangible we can hold up (and hang onto) to show that second class citizenship still exists for some citizens of the United States. It’s a good illustration: marriage is something most people can identify with — what if you couldn’t marry? Overall inequality for gays is more amorphous — harder to pin down and to show . Not being able to marry is a glaring transgression, but it is a symbol of the fight, not the fight itself.
The real issue, beneath the-right-to-marry campaign, is that there are still people in our country who do not have full rights of citizenship. Anyone who thinks that is acceptable should not be giving the invocation at a presidential inauguration.
People are entitled to their opinions, but I don’t see Obama inviting a racist to give the invocation so that they can keep the lines of communication open.
Sitting down with people you disagree with is the right thing to do. I wish that Obama had said to Warren, “We’ll talk. I’m open. Let’s bring this up,” and had chosen a different but still significant, time and place. The current venue does not send out the right message to anyone - neither to those who support gay marriage or to those who oppose it.
If he had done that, I’d be right up there yelling at anyone, gay or straight, who believed Warren had no right to speak and Obama no right to listen.