Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Thoughts on Rick Warren

There have been a lot of developments in the Rick Warren fiasco recently. I'm glad to see that the outrage that the GLBT community felt when we heard the news of Warren's selection to give the invocation at the Inauguration got a great deal of media coverage and forced Obama to clarify his reasoning.

Since then, Melissa Etheridge, a great singer and an icon of the gay rights movement, has written a story about her own encounter with Warren and her view that:

Brothers and sisters the choice is ours now. We have the world's attention. We have the capability to create change, awesome change in this world, but before we change minds we must change hearts. Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket. But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to listen. They don't hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.

The latest development is that Warren has scrubbed the explicitly anti-gay language from his church website.

So where are we?

I'm still infuriated at Obama for making the choice. Six million GLBT Americans voted for him, hoping that he represented change from the institutionalized bigotry of the Bush regime. Even in the face of Obama's victory, the GLBT community took a major blow with California's Proposition 8 and the other anti-equality measures across the country. Thus, our emotions were raw, and we were looking to Obama to come to our defense and fight for us. When we heard that Obama had chosen Rick Warren to give the invocation, a man who compared our relationships to pedophila and incest, and who had given major and vocal support to Proposition 8, it was like being kicked in the gut by someone we thought was our ally.

Now it looks like at least some kind of superficial progress might be happening. Warren is reaching out to Melissa Etheridge, who is giving him the benefit of the doubt. He's scrubbing anti-gay language from his church website. He's (sort of) repudiated some of what he said.

But is it enough? What's the trade off? What do we get out of having a far right preacher take one step back from the edge?

I just don't think we're going to get Warren and his ilk to move enough to our side to make the outrage of giving them a microphone at the inauguration worthwhile.

My husband has said that there are four things Obama needs to do during his Presidency to regain his support after the Warren pick:

1) Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act
2) Enact hate crimes legislation
3) Enact the Employee Non-Discrimination Act
4) Repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell

I agree with my husband's assessment. Obama needs to do these things anyway, but he especially needs to do them now to regain the support of those of us he betrayed with the Warren pick.