Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On Obama/Warren

I had a brief discussion with a friend yesterday about Obama's choice to have Rick Warren, the leader of a huge mega-church in California, to deliver the prayer at his inauguration yesterday. Apparently this is a position of prestige and generally considered to be an honour, which miffed the queer community (Warren was a strong advocate for passing Prop8 in November, has said some rather inflammatory things about the nature of queer relationships that he later downplayed, and his church supports programs to help "change" gays).

Some people support Obama's decision to invite Warren as his way of truly being "inclusive." Others point to the invitation of Gene Robinson, an openly gay Anglican Bishop, to give a prayer earlier as a counterpoint to Warren. There are also people who see Robinson's invitation, and the invitation of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association to the parade, as an affront to "family values" folks.

I think that the opposition to Warren and Robinson come from two different angles, and that the opposition to Robinson's presence isn't merited, while opposition to Warren is. This is because Warren himself has said extemely insulting, demeaning things about gays; he, himself, is a person who does NOT accept all Americans as being equal, under the law or in the eyes of "God." On the other hand, opposition to Robinson's presence comes not (necessarily*) from specific things he has said or done, but simply because he is gay. Opposition to this man comes from a stigmatization of all gay people, but opposition to Warren does not come from an opposition to all evangelicals.

There are, of course, exceptions to all these points, but this is by and large how the arguments are going, and I think that valid points are being made to suggest that Warren does not fit the spirit of "inclusion" that was supposed to be the theme of this inauguration.

*Some people do specifically have a problem with comments that Robinson has made in the past about homophobic religious types not being true to their religions.

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