Yep, I'm Outraged - UPDATED
by Denny Crane, Mon Dec 22, 2008 at 08:37:14 AM EST
I hear that Rick Warren is a nice guy in person. He offered refreshments to the Prop 8 protesters. He actively encourages members of his Saddleback Church to work with those suffering from AIDS in a hands-on fashion. I understand he is warm and very personable.
Warren is a firm believer in reducing poverty and environmental conservation. And he backs up those beliefs with actions.
He is also a bigot of the first order. His church doesn't allow non-repentant gays to join. You read that correctly - if you are gay and don't believe that you can be cured, you aren't welcome at Saddleback. He was a huge supporter of Prop 8 and he is on record saying that being gay is akin to being a child abuser.
"I have many gay friends. I've eaten dinner in gay homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church," he said in a recent interview with BeliefNet. But later in the interview, he said the "redefinition of marriage" to include gay marriage would be like legitimizing incest, child abuse and polygamy.
I'm outraged at President-elect Obama's choice of Warren, and there's nothing feigned about it. And while I'm not thrilled that Warren opposes gay marriage, that isn't the real problem. Obama opposes it too, and so does Hillary Clinton. And John Edwards, and lots of others. If I opposed Warren because of that alone, I'd also have to oppose Barack and Hillary.
Here's the issue, folks: Warren is a bigot. He thinks that there is something wrong with me because I'm gay. He thinks I suffer from something that can be cured, and he wouldn't allow me into his church unless I believe that too. Warren thinks that I am unnatural and not much different than a pedophile:
More recently, Warren told Beliefnet that he thinks allowing a gay couple to marry is similar to allowing "a brother and sister to be together and call that marriage." He then helpfully added that he's also "opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage." The reporter, who may have been a little surprised, asked, "Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?""Oh, I do," Warren immediately answered. I wish the reporter had asked the next logical follow-up: If gays are like child-sex offenders, shouldn't we incarcerate them?
A friend of mine informed me that there is also an LGBT marching band included in the ceremony, as though that would somehow even things out and make it all better. A marching band? Really?
Obama says that he wants to engage in discourse with people who have a wide variety of viewpoints, and that's fine. But, Mr. President-elect, you don't get a pass on this one. You have to draw the line somewhere, and doing so with a blatant bigot seems like an easy place to do it. You don't get to claim that you're a "fierce advocate" of gay rights at the same time that you're embracing a notorious homophobe by giving him a prominent role in your inauguration.
A bigot who works to end poverty is still a bigot. We all know that Obama doesn't share all of Warren's views - there's no question about that. If I thought that, I never would have worked so hard for him and given him all that money. But this isn't the first time Obama has embraced people with an anti-gay agenda while claiming to be a gay rights advocate, either. You can't balance out hate by including a marching band. One is clearly more significant than the other.
If Obama wanted to reach out to others, he certainly could have done so in a less insulting way. I'm confident that if Obama was determined to reach out to evangelicals, he could have found someone less repugnant than Rick Warren to do the job. I'll bet Jim Wallis would have rearranged his schedule. That he chose not to do so is telling. I am enormously disappointed - this isn't the change I was hoping for at all.
I thought Rachel Maddow made the case pretty effectively over the last week or so. Here's a sample:
And this one: