President-Elect Obama's Troubling Inaugural Choice

December 18, 2008
Across the nation, LGBT people and progressives gasped as they read the headlines that President-elect Obama selected the Rev. Rick Warren to give the prayer of invocation at his inauguration. Obama's hopeful statements of support for the LGBT community made the invitation to Warren that much more shocking. Bloggers and our collected media clips show that Warren has a long history of using his platform to perpetuate anti-gay stances. Box Turtle states:
"Rick Warren claims he's not a homophobe because he has "many gay friends" and has "eaten dinner in gay homes." And yet, he still believes that his friends' relationships are no different morally from child rape, incest or polygamy.
As the pastor of Saddleback mega-church (the fourth-largest church in the United States) he and his wife spent millions on global HIV/AIDS ministries. Conservatives criticize him for taking such a "liberal" stance on the HIV/AIDS issue, but he continues to equate same-sex marriage with incest and polygamy. On Father's Day this year, Warren met was persuaded to meet with the gay-affirming organization Soulforce, where he argued that gay people had to be celibate if they want to serve the church. Saddleback Church drew global media attention as the venue for a presidential debate on values, which Warren followed up by using his media influence to speak against marriage for same-sex marriage. He was instrumental in building support for the passage of Proposition 8, which banned marriage for gay couples. Today, President-elect Obama responded at a live press conference with carefully crafted talking points by saying that Warren had invited him to Saddleback in spite of their differing views on many topics and now he has invited Warren to be part of America's "noisy conversation" of divergent opinions. Obama pointed to the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery as the minister who will give the benediction and has vastly different view on gay issues. Recently, Warren said in an interview over at Beliefnet that he believes in full equality:
Beliefnet: Do you support civil unions or domestic partnerships?
Warren: I don't know if I'd use the term there but I support full equal rights for everybody in America. I don't believe we should have unequal rights depending on particular lifestyles so I fully support equal rights.
Beliefnet: What about partnership benefits in terms of insurance or hospital visitation?
Warren: You know, not a problem with me.
GLAAD has already urged the media ask incisive questions about what equality means in relation to employment, housing and protection from hate crimes. We challenge them to hold both Rick Warren and President-Elect Obama accountable and clarify what "equality" truly means to them.