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I Know Why Obama Picked Warren. But Why?!

I have been vexed into paralysis by President-elect Obama's selection of evangelical pastor Rick Warren to lead the invocation at his inauguration next month. Sure, I understand politically why Obama chose to give such an honor to Warren. A terrific explanation came from E.J. Dionne today. Obama campaigned as an agent of change who would usher in a new era of bipartisanship that would end the divisive politics that divided American against American. A divisive politics that led to progress-sapping gridlock in Washington. Warren represents a significant bloc of the nation that not only voted against Obama, but view him with deep suspicion. Giving Warren such a stature-enhancing role is a brilliant symbolic move that tells evangelicals that Obama has not closed himself to them.

And because symbols matter, I personally found the choice offensive. That's why Richard Cohen's column today was so soothing. As Cohen argues, someone who likens same-sex marriage to incest and pedophilia shouldn't be given such a high honor on such an historic day. It suggests that Obama is either tone deaf (coming so soon after the defeat of California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in the state constitution, which Warren vocally supported and which sparked protests across the country) or he doesn't care because he thinks (okay, let's admit it, he knows) the gay community isn't going anywhere. Either way, it's troubling.

Now, let's look on the bright side for a moment. By being tapped by Obama for a major role in the inaugural, Warren has now been catapulted to the rarefied air of presidential spiritual adviser. But with that perch comes heightened responsibility to a larger audience, and we're beginning to see the benefits of increased scrutiny.

On her MSNBC show last night, Rachel Maddow reported that the Web site for Warren's Saddleback Church has removed the prohibition that "someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted as a member of Saddleback Church." This afternoon, Warren released a video claiming that he never equated same-sex marriage with incest or pedophilia. "I have in no way ever taught that homosexuality is the same thing as a forced relationship between an adult and a child, or between siblings...." He goes on to say, "In the Beliefnet interview, I was trying to point out I'm not opposed to gays having their partnership. I'm opposed to gays using the term marriage for their relationship."

This much I'll give Obama. He's got us all talking about gay rights and the role same-sex marriage plays in the quest for equality. In some cases, the discussion can get spirited as it did between "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan and me today.

But dialogue can lead to understanding. We could use more of both -- on both sides.

By Jonathan Capehart  | December 23, 2008; 6:20 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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I didn't agree with Warren's support for Proposition 8. But just because liberal values won in 2008 doesn't mean that we get to round up the conservatives and send them off to re-education camps. Obama did the right thing. He promised a new tone - one of civility and cooperation. Not just with people with whom he agrees. That's true inclusiveness. Tolerance doesn't equal gay rights or civil rights - it means equal rights - including conservatives.

Posted by: mwcob | December 23, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Obama THINKS he can count on the LGBT community no matter what. Well guess what ... when he's looking for the next sap to stuff envelopes, jawbone neighbors, put up signs, donate money and blog her head off he better go check w/ Rick Warren for how many right wing evangelists he's converted. 'Cause he's lost this loyal footsoldier before firing the first shot. No inauguration party out here in CA ... we['ve become the new Show Me state. No more empty promises from the empty suit (can't even believe I'm repeating the arguments I fought against all year ... what a chump I was). Hope Rick and Barack make a happy couple 'cause he's gonna need all the fair weather friends he can buy.

Posted by: Omyobama | December 23, 2008 10:56 PM | Report abuse

If you're "vexed into paralysis" because your messiah selected a mild-mannered preacher who generally soft-pedals but who on a couple of occasions did manage to tell the truth about marriage and sex -- well, if this unremarkable development left you paralyzed, I do wonder just how you manage to navigate the manifold vicissitudes of human existence.

Posted by: zjr78xva | December 24, 2008 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Changing the definition of marriage is NOT a civil rights issue. Marriage means the union of husband and wife. It is predicated on the complementarity of the two sexes. It can not mean anything other than that. There is no "right" to pretend differently.

Posted by: zjr78xva | December 24, 2008 12:43 AM | Report abuse

Obama made a big mistake by choosing a vocal bigot like Rick Warren to give the incantation.

If Obama thinks that he can usher an era of bipartisanship, he is sorely mistaken. The likes of Limbaugh, Hannity, and their assorted ilk, -- like Warren -- will continue to spew their hatred and to appeal to people's lowest instincts so as to keep Americans pitted against one another. And so as to keep their audience and their fat salaries and perks...

As Cohen put it, "the party is off."

Posted by: Gatsby1 | December 24, 2008 12:43 AM | Report abuse

The reasons given for inviting Warren to pray at the inauguration are gross rationalization.
Being open to right-wing evangelical Christians is one thing. Giving a major role in the inauguration to one who supports hate is yet another.
I believe Warren indicated that he invited Obama to his church and now Obama was returning the invitation.
One has to wonder how many other invitations are out there to be returned.

Posted by: csavferg1 | December 24, 2008 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Rick Warren is not a "bigot" and does not "support hate". Wildly irresponsible accusations and calumny do not advance an argument.

Posted by: zjr78xva | December 24, 2008 1:15 AM | Report abuse

This is why there shouldn't be ANY religious "invocations" at the inaugural or any other political event in America: religion is always, inherently, divisive.

Posted by: hellslittlestangel1 | December 24, 2008 4:12 AM | Report abuse

Definitely one of the better columns I have read on this thorny subject.

Inviting Rick Warren was a politically expedient move - and wrong. Obama's biggest mistake on this was timing: Appointing one of the "generals" of Prop 8 so soon after its passing. It is a *big* slap in the face to GLBT community, after so many of them fought for Obama.

This is *exactly* analogous to inviting an avowed racist or anti-Semite to deliver the inauguration. Warren *is* a bigot who has said some pretty outrageous anti-gay things.

Warren may use his "donuts and water" defense to claim he doesn't hate gays, but if his anti-gay rhetoric and aggressive support of Prop 8 has encouraged hatred of gays and the rash of physical violence against gays that we have seen recently (which it surely has), that's enough for me. He as a leader is responsible for the violence against gay people which he incites. We will not let him whitewash his record of inciting hatred and violence against gay people, which I would hope all true Christians abhor.

It is probably too much to hope that Obama will dis-invite Warren. Admitting mistakes is hard to do for the best of us. We can only hope that Obama will make up for this by pushing federal anti-discrimination and anti-hate crime legislation, ending the lie of "don't ask, don't tell", and - most importantly of all - recognizing same-sex partnerships (whether civil unions or marriages) at the federal level for purposes of benefits, legal protections, tax, immigration law, etc. "Separate" can never be "equal" - but it's a start.

As a final note: I know that many think it's a pretty hopeless cause to argue religion, but I think we *have* to do this if we're ever going to move forward on this issue. So, to Rick Warren and anyone who digs through the Bible to try to rationalize their opposition to gay marriage, I trust that you are equally committed to criminalizing divorce, executing adulterers, allowing polygamy, stoning women who are not virgins at the time of their marriage, all of which is much more explicitly mentioned in the Bible. And likewise that you keep a strict kosher diet, don't mix fabrics, etc. etc. Because otherwise, you are just a shameful *hypocrite*. Didn't Jesus say something about that mote in your eye?

Posted by: PaulG2 | December 24, 2008 4:47 AM | Report abuse

There is a time and place for everything.... Obama jumped on the wrong bus this time.

Political yoga? OK. But, this time, it was quite a stretched. For this once entusiastic supporter, a discomforting and troubling move by the professed change agent. The change mosty being from what Obama promised to what he has shown us about his true nature and inclinations.

This isn't about Warren, we know him, is about Obama who we don't know as well as we had once thought.

Posted by: vtcxc | December 24, 2008 6:38 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: willemkraal | December 24, 2008 6:57 AM | Report abuse

Your heart will go on.

Posted by: martymar123 | December 24, 2008 7:23 AM | Report abuse

The suggestion that Warren was "aggressive" and a "general" in support of Prop. 8 is simply contrary to fact. Look it up.

The way the radicals have savaged this mild-mannered, relatively liberal chap ought to be a wake-up call for the rest of us.

Asserting the truth about the authentic nature and meaning of marriage and sex does not, cannot, constitute bigotry or "hate". It is simply a matter of bearing witness to the truth.

It is obvious who are the haters in this debate -- and it is not poor Rick Warren.

Posted by: zjr78xva | December 24, 2008 7:26 AM | Report abuse

On Obama inviting Warren the liar ("Was the cone of silence comfortable that you were in just now?"):

Ladies and gentlemen, that's starting to smell.

Posted by: ikea1 | December 24, 2008 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Who is the true Barack Obama? The one who pandered to the kool aid drinking left while trying to obtain the nomination, the one who was "made over" once he secured the nomination, the " candidate of change" that has surrounded himself with Clinton retreads,or the "center right" president elect. Will the real Obama stand up? Now you know why "the one" didn't receive my vote. For all those that voted for him, I hope you don't get too disappointed

Posted by: olgashaw | December 24, 2008 7:30 AM | Report abuse

I am nearly done with President-Elect Obama over this, Senator Clinton should refuse the Sec Of State Nomination, and start her 2012 Campaign now. The President Elect has betrayed the Democratic Party and morality completely by having this crazed, but polite extreme bigot give the religous address at his big event is proof of Obama's bigotory.
Note Rick Warren is NOT being attacked just for his opposition to Gay Marriage, its not even the primary factor. Its that he compares Gay Relationships to Child molestation, and polyomogy. It that doesn't make him an extreme bigot in your eyes, you need to do some soul searching RIGHT NOW, and maybe actually read a Bible, instead of cherry picking things out of context.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | December 24, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

To read all the screamers and whiners on this blog is stunning. Obama's own supporters are already turning on him. It's Jimmy Carter all over again. Carter's biggest problem was his own party. Here we go again. Amazing how fickle people are. "Wah wah wah - it's all about ME. You didn't give ME what I want. ME ME ME." Sheesh people.

Posted by: mwcob | December 24, 2008 7:40 AM | Report abuse

As a gay man, I certainly would never have suggested inviting someone with views of me as distorted and ill-conceived as Pastor Warren's, particularly to pray for me and everyone else. Who knows what he's going to ask my God to do to me?!!!!

However, in the spirit of inclusiveness, I am ok with it, AS LONG AS the policies of the new Administration are also inclusive. I expect gay people to be treated as full partners in American society. That means equal protection under its laws. And that means everything from removal of the odious "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law to repeal of the equally odious law with the oxymoronic name, the "Defense of Marriage Act". Get rid of them sooner rather than later. They harm innocent citizens. They are cruel and immoral and, I believe, unconstitutional to boot. Get rid of them.

And start walking the actual walk of including us in OUR society.

Posted by: ricklinguist | December 24, 2008 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Obama's choice of Warren is inexplicable. Coming so soon off the emotional defeat following Prop 8, it just seems like an incredibly obtuse selection. However, based off his other eyebrow-raising cabinet choices (remarkable lack of diversity), I'm beginning to wonder if his administration is simply chaotic, rather than politically shrewd. Nothing wrong with that, of course - I expect a little chaos in a new administration. But what concerns me is the free pass he's getting from a lot of people (especially the media). If it's mere inexperience, the only way he'll correct the deficiencies is by the press exposing obvious follies. He will listen and adjust. But, if everyone continues rationalizing his shockingly naive choices, then there's absolutely no motivation to correct and adapt. We, the people and the press, will then be responsible for inhibiting the great potential of this Administration.

Posted by: Bosworth2 | December 24, 2008 7:44 AM | Report abuse

The presidency of Obama is a result of the coming together of a diversed American people. A people that has grown to understand that racially our similarities are greater than our differences. There are fewer racial bigots today because of the intergration of our society.
Tolerants on both sides is neccessary to tear the walls of seperation down. Ignorance of one another keep them standing.
Warren and the gay community has a lot to learn from one another. It will only happen when we decide to deal with one another in the spirit of true love. God is LOVE.

Posted by: CF721 | December 24, 2008 8:28 AM | Report abuse

Democrats are slowly learning that blind obedience to the radical, homosexual lobby is a losing proposition.

It's just one of the reasons Republicans have out performed them in the past 40-50 years.

Most Americans view the homosexual "lifestyle" with extreme distaste. It is an insult to call homosexual unions marriage. It's a fake and a sham.

B.H.O. is being wise to plan future, electoral success by throwing gays under the bus. Gays are a harmful fringe. Not as large a fringe as some people think.

Posted by: battleground51 | December 24, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Sounds to me like left-wing fringers only want diversity of the type that agrees with their agendas 100%.

In other words left-wingers want ethnic, type diversity but with ideologic homogeneity.

Thought clones in a rainbow of hues.

Social Utopia!!!

Posted by: battleground51 | December 24, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Looks like diversity, inclusiveness and tolerance aren't as popular as they were a few days ago.

Posted by: srb2 | December 24, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Black people do not care about gay marriage .

Posted by: borntoraisehogs | December 24, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Rick Warren did not equate homosexual with incest. What he was saying just because two person that are sister and brother claim to be in love we would not allow marriage on that basic. In other words the meaning of marriage cannot be allow to be changed just because two people say they are in love, and I agree with that.

I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I also agree with civil union for gays.

I do not except the argument that it is the same as civil rights for blacks when it came to interracial marriage. First of all blacks are born black by virue of their parents. You know they are black from birth; the same cannot be said of homosexuals. To have attraction to the same sex does not make it right and to change the meaning of marriage to accomodate that attraction would not be right. This was all Rick Warren saying and I agree.

Posted by: dncthm1 | December 24, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who thinks President Elect Obama is politically tone-deaf just hasn't been paying attention. He speaks softly but always carries a 2x4. And he knows how to use it. Watch and learn.

This article is one of the better takes I've read on the topic.

Posted by: martymar123 | December 24, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

"Judge not, lest ye be judged."

This should apply to everyone--including Rick Warren AND those who don't agree with him.

Posted by: distance88 | December 24, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Did picking Warren really usher in a new era of bipartisanship, or illiminate our differences? This pick sets the tone for the ceremony and administration as a whole. Whereas the country is in desperate need of strength, Obama has shown weakness.

This is a historic event in our history, and no time to water it down with a grand sycophantic gesture. He is running away from the ones who brought him. And in his soujourn to the middle, he becomes an empty suit. His entire campaign was, indeed "just words."

Rick Warren? The Lincoln bible? Who are you, Barack?

Your obsession with Lincoln has neglected what brought him into history...the role of the "great emancipator." You are not an emancipator, you are the "great emaciator," making your platform, your values and the importance of your heritage very, very thin.

Your unfortunate choice of Rick Warren is water under the bridge, but it is not too late to forget the Lincoln bible, and pick up the MLK Bible. THAT would have significance.

I like the fact that you want to let everyone onto the bus; as long as you are driving the bus, and not sitting in the back pretending what you think, and who you are is unimportant. WE NEED YOU TO STAND UP, and be the person you represented, and we elected.

Posted by: kimba1 | December 24, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Has Rick Waren ever resorted to attacking individual people?

About homosexual marriage, we know at least in California, Rick Warren is in the majority and shares Barak Obama's stated opinion. I was worried about Obama, but I am glad he is doing what he said he would, rather then what I thought he would do.


Posted by: joeyjpaul | December 24, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

My only surprise over the selection of Rev. Warren was that the Gay community was surprised.

Like so many other individuals and groups, the opportunist Obama saw the Gay community as politically expendable and "threw them under the bus."

Obama has not yet taken office. He is already running for his second term. The Gay community comprises <5% of the voting electorate ....... a pittance compared to the Evangelical and conservative Catholic vote.

Odd thing is ....... four years from now, Gays will largely vote for Obama again.

Posted by: furtdw | December 24, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

The sad state of Religion in America today. Torture goes largely unprotested. The "Christian" church digs into the old testiment to attack gays. And the poor huddle in the cold while ever more luxurious "Churchs" have oceans of SUV's in the parking lots. America's got problems today probably the biggest is that the Religious don't listen to their own texts.

Posted by: elgunjduts | December 24, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Having Rick Warren give the invocation is not a slap in the face to gay people. It is a slap in the face to gay activitsts who cannot stand any voice but their own.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 24, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Jonathan, I tuned in yesterday to "Morning Joe," and as always was glad to know that you would be a guest. Then, lo and behold, we lucky viewers got that intense and intelligent conversation among you, Joe and Pat. Can't remember if Mika got in a word or two...?

As to the Warren selection for Obama's inaugural invocation, I am of two minds. First, it's appalling that the prayer will be given by anyone with views so conventional and prejudicial. But second, it does let Obama hold out an olive branch to those who seem unable to tolerate a reality with which they are uncomfortable.

I'm a Catholic, and happy to be so: a convert at age 62. I have great admiration for Joseph Ratzinger despite his reputation as an arch-conservative; he is less judgmental and more inquisitive than most people think. Would love to be granted an hour with him in order to explain why I am convinced that some of his positions are quite wrong -- especially the one where he states that it's OK to be a homosexual person because that's the way God made you but that this doesn't mean it's OK to engage in "homosexual behavior." Say, what?

My objections to Rick Warren's views and to some of Pope Benedict's aren't very different. Yet I think it's important to keep on listening. So I'll listen with interest on the 20th of next month as Pastor Warren gives the invocation. And I continue to read just about everything written by Ratzinger. The dialogue really matters!

Thanks, Jonathan!

Posted by: jeanparkslynn | December 24, 2008 10:02 AM | Report abuse

obama did gays a disservice by choosing warren and forcing gays to was , of course, done on purpose as yo-yo obama wants to distance himself from gays..he has achieved that for sure..he is laughing all the way to the lincoln bedroom..warren and yo-yo are so much alike..i can see why they get along..both such phonies..oh well. life goes on..see ya in 2012 yo-yo

Posted by: rmcgolden | December 24, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

The truth about marriage and sex is that there is no "sex" after marriage, only excuses about headaches.

I think the gay community should be allowed to get married and be as miserable as the rest of society.

Posted by: gogmu012 | December 24, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

i confess, I was a single-issue voter..voted for yo-yo cause I figured he was the one most likely to end the Iraq i wonder what his REAL stance is..i knew he wasn't a pro-gay politician but unlike most on the right i was able to accept that as long as he didn't get too bizarre in his anti-gay stuff..warren is bizarre.

Posted by: rmcgolden | December 24, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

People look at this selection as Obama being influenced by Warren. Did anyone consider that the opposite will actually occur?

Do people think Obama should represent only the interests of the left wing? If so, that is the quickest path to defeat in 2010 and 2012. So get off your self-centered interests and get real. Trust me, GWB did NOT satisfy right wing America one bit - not even close.

We have never had as radical a leadership in Congress as we have now with the left wingers. The right wing was never in control of the Reps like the Libs are in charge of the Dems. Truly, keep up the liberal fascism and you will see Obama be defeated in 2012.

And if Bruce Springsteen wants to save the steel mill, he has more than enough money to do it. Bruce just "shut the bleep up".

Posted by: hz9604 | December 24, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Paralyzed? Perhaps you should read what's going on with the economy, the suicide because of the recent Ponzi scheme, or maybe about the Smith family in Prince William County, VA who lost a son and mother to a double murder in their home -- the bodies discovered by another son. You can say what you want in your article, but how about being a little more realistic. Were you really paralyzed by Obama's choice?

Posted by: bkhoward | December 24, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"By being tapped by Obama for a major role in the inaugural, Warren has now been catapulted to the rarefied air of presidential spiritual adviser."

This is precisely what bugs me so much about the Warren pick. Obama has chosen a homophobic bigot as a spiritual advisor. I fear that Warren will exert a really pernicious influence on Obama in terms of human rights. I also fear that in choosing to grant this honor to Warren, Obama has betrayed something very disturbing about his (perhaps) unconscious feelings.

Posted by: nicekid | December 24, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

So are you guys saying that "change we need", and "it's a new dawn", and "this is our moment" did not fully explain all of Obama's selections, policy decisions, etc., etc. Imagine that!!

Posted by: hz9604 | December 24, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: ricklinguist

As a gay man, I certainly would never have suggested inviting someone with views of me as distorted and ill-conceived as Pastor Warren's, particularly to pray for me and everyone else. Who knows what he's going to ask my God to do to me?!!!!

However, in the spirit of inclusiveness, I am ok with it, AS LONG AS the policies of the new Administration are also inclusive. I expect gay people to be treated as full partners in American society. That means equal protection under its laws. And that means everything from removal of the odious "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law to repeal of the equally odious law with the oxymoronic name, the "Defense of Marriage Act". Get rid of them sooner rather than later. They harm innocent citizens. They are cruel and immoral and, I believe, unconstitutional to boot. Get rid of them.

And start walking the actual walk of including us in OUR society.
I concur with you completely. As a strait man I believe Gay & Lesbians should have the same rights and protections as any American citizen. I believe that an elected official can disagree with any given community's lifestyle but can still govern them justly and righteously. I believe same sex unions should receive the same rights that common law spouses receive but I don't believe that same sex unions should be legally recognized by the states as marriage.

The World Society is built on the foundation of marriage being a man and a woman. This foundation transcends and precedes America as a society. In other words, America did not and does not define what marriage is. If same sex marriage is allowed to be a foundation of American society we as nation will eventually cease to exist because same sexes can not procreate. Procreation is the reason why marriage must remain exclusively between a man and a woman.

Posted by: SteelWheel1 | December 24, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Well, gays and lesbians flocked to Hillary Clinton in the primaries, so it's not exactly a constituency that has been supportive of Obama. Opposition to Rick Warren is an overreaction. Warren himself is having to back-pedal a little on his anti-gay stance, something that would not have been the case for a born-again even five years ago. The homosexual agenda will get much further after 8 years of Obama than it would a Republican, so quit nitpicking.

Posted by: roedel74 | December 24, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Jonathon, Jonathon, Jonathon: I wasn't crazy about the Rick Warren pick, either, and I reluctantly agree with E.J. Dionne's pice...but this sentence of yours is by far the silliest thing I've yet read on this subject: "Warren has now been catapulted to the rarefied air of presidential spiritual adviser."

There is not one iota, not one sub-atomic scintilla of evidence to suggest Warren is any sort of *&^%$# "presidential spiritual adviser." That is the most absurd, over-the-top conclusion I ever heard of.

C'mon, you guys can't have it both ways. Almost all of the thinking on this subject is that this was some sort of calculated political move on Obama's part, a conciliatory gesture, blah, blah blah. So OK: if it is simply some piece of political theater or cynical manipulation, how can anyone possibly suggest that Obama actually wants Warren for his "spiritual advice"? Jeez. That notion (absurd on its face) belies every bit of talk about "conciliatroy moves," calculation, politics, etc.

C'mon, man. Spiritual adviser? That clown? No way.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | December 24, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Why not Reverend Jeremiah Wright? After all he is a military veteran who pastored the first African American Church in a predominantly white faith and he pastored to the President-Elect for 20 years on the South Side of Chicago. Read Abe Lincoln's Second Inaugural for his wistful humble acceptance of the Civil War as God's damning judgment for the sin of slavery.

Or what about Peter Gomes? Gomes is the gay African American pastor of Harvard who spoke for Reagan and H.W. Bush. Or the selection of a black gay female Muslim veteran? Or Louis Farrakhan? For his work with incarcerated black men. Or is Warren the only one who can be forgiven for his transgressions?

Because of the historic absence of a God, a Jesus and a congregation that accepted the humanity and equality of African Americans in the white Christian American Church the African American Christian church came into existence. And the white evangelical Christians are the spiritual heirs of those who use to wear white sheets, burn crosses, lynch people, stand in doors, said "segregation forever.." and carried the Stars and Bars into battle. Falwell, Robertson, Jones were all accepted into the main stream of American political discourse despite their thinly veiled bigotry hidden behind smiling faces and softened tones. Warren is to this group what David Duke is to the Klan.

The African American Christian Church of which there are many faiths and pastors richly deserves the high symbolic honor of delivering the invocation on this unique historic day. Instead a towering icon of that tradition-Joe Lowery- has been sent to the back of the bus to deliver the benediction. Maybe Barack thought he might be on CP time and might arrive too late. But their will always be plenty of time to wait to talk to Warren and his ilk on substance of agreement and disagreement. Warren is merely a politician speaking on secular issues. And he can not hide behind his God or Holy Scripture except to those who are his followers.

Posted by: blackmamba1 | December 24, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Capehart,
I saw the "spirited" exchange you had on "Morning Joe" with Joe Scarborough, Pat Buchanan, and Mica. I don't usually agree with Joe on much but Joe has a point when he disagreed with your assertion that the gay & lesbian fight is the same as the Civil Rights struggle.

Joe stated he is in favor of gays & lesbians civil unions receiving the same legal and property rights as married people but was against legally recognizing same sex marriages. What is wrong with that? The foundation of world civilization is built upon marriage between a man and a woman. The reason for that is because procreation is needed to make civilization possible. A same sex marriage cannot procreate; ergo, society will eventually cease to exist if same sex marriage is allowed to be at its foundation.

I can't imagine the hell you had to go through to get to where you are now in your profession being openly gay and a black man. I respect and admire you for your courage and accomplishments.

Posted by: SteelWheel1 | December 24, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Thank you so much for your column this morning. It took me a long time to get on the Obama train and, I must say, it was a short ride.

While I think non-partisanship is a new thing for this generation of Americans I do not think that non-partisanship is the type of leadership which I thought we were going to have with this new administration.

Instead of a new paradigm all we have from Obama is an old "smash 'em all together" paradigm. By "smash 'em all together" I mean that Obama thinks by just putting us all in the same room we'll calm down and get on with the business of saving this ruined and depressed nation.

Ain't gonna happen, Mr. O. My seething rage against the idiotic religious right is ascerbated by Warren. I am so freakin' angry I am hoping to go to Goodwill and get a box of old shoes. I think the next four years will see the need for some sole-ful response from me.

Obama has completely alienated me and I wish him no good will, no success, no happiness, no ease. I wish him no harm or hurt but, he must come to his senses and see that the right does not play like we play. They have no logic. They no compassion. They have no sense of compromise or acceptance.

I was hoping for a new paradigm where our president would have an idea of how to be done with bi-, non-, ultra- partisanship. I wanted him to convince us of the new way. I did not want to see the same old crap of gay people being ones to bear the burden of the right's stupidity.

Obama has lost me. I support nothing that he stands for. Rick Warren can go burn in his God's hell as far as I'm concerned. Obama can go with him.

Posted by: Goldmund52hotmailcom | December 24, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps Obama really is being inclusive, recognizing the vast majority of Americans who define marriage the way God does, as the union of one man and one woman (Lisa Miller's fantasies notwithstanding).

Posted by: mayoungkin | December 24, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Sherlock Holmes may have the answer as to why Barack Obama invited Rick Warren to give the invocation:

"Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth."

After eliminating all the other factors, the one which remains is that Barack Obama may very well share Rick Warren's views about homosexuals.

Posted by: pali2500 | December 24, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

So, curtain has been pulled aside and now you are seeing the Man behind it... not the Wizard/Messiah you thought was there. Welcome to my world. I don't know why any of you are surprised...Obama said he was against homosexual marriage. I guess you didn't pay attention to that, like so many of you didn't pay attention when he made so many different contradictory statements to so many people; like you didn't pay attention to his record in Illinois. God bless Rev. Warren for sticking up for traditional marriage...marriage as its been defined for 1000's of years by nature and God and now the citizens of 30 states.

Posted by: lostein | December 24, 2008 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Jonathan, that's exactly how I feel. But I'm also angry with myself for falling for it again (see: Clinton and Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the Defense of Marriage of Act). It's like that bad relationship that you can't quite shake, because that's all you have. Until we figure out that no one politician is going to "fix" everything, we're always going to be on that same hamsterwheel to nowhere.

Posted by: rutha1 | December 24, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

fr zjr78va:

>...Rick Warren is not a "bigot" and does not "support hate". <

He most certainly IS. When one supposed "minister" tries to equate being GLBT with pedophilia and /or zoophilia, THAT is BIGOTRY and outright LIES. It's too bad he swallowed "dr" dobdork's purple koolaid about it. He also refuses to let GLBT's be members of his cult, er, "church". Would Christ do that? NO.

Posted by: Alex511 | December 24, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse

The problem with this conversation is that we fail to realize that Rick Warren is not coming from the perspective of hatred or evil. I am a liberal pastor who has come to understand that my evangelical brothers and sisters think the way they do. Evangelicals see homosexuality as counter to God's law, which is reinforced in the Bible. They see homosexuality, unlike race, as a lifestyle choice not a matter of being. I have lots of good friends who are strongly apposed to homosexual marriage, but I do not consider them evil, hateful people. I consider them misguided perhaps, people who have a different perspective, but not bigots. When an opponent of same sex marriage says they love the sinner, but not the sin they honestly mean what they say. This article is discounting where Rick Warren is coming from. The author of this article is calling Mr. Warren an outright bigot and should not be given the stature of performing the invocation at the inauguration. Rev. Warren is simply coming from a different perspective and is not a bigot, but simply fear the eternally well-being of gay people. Believe it or not, he condemns homosexuality out of love not hatred. I appreciate that the President-elect can see Rev. Warren as a child of God that thinks differently than the liberal minister who embraces homosexuality.

Posted by: kswsting | December 24, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Obama’s relationship to Gay America is and will remain step parent to step children in a second marriage. Gays consistently supported Hillary until Obama became the candidate and then supported Obama because the alternative was McCain.

Blacks do not support gay marriage and they represent 4-5 times as many votes as gays. Obama has always been against gay marriage – he was very clear on that in the campaign. This is a surprise to only those who weren’t paying attention or living under the illusion that Obama is somehow different from other politicians.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 24, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"I'm not opposed to gays having their partnership. I'm opposed to gays using the term marriage for their relationship." This is the new face of evangelical bigotry. Don't base rank discrimination on the Bible; instead, try to shoehorn it into a public policy argument. They tried confusing people with 'Intelligent Design' to force creationism into the public schools. Ignorance, bigotry and fear of scientific fact can't be papered over with focus-group labels. Why did Obama pick Rick Warren? They hold the same views on gay marriage; they're both against it.

Posted by: jac2jess | December 24, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

John Capehart is getting closer to addressing Warren's real point. As Warren says himself, "I have in no way ever taught that homosexuality is the same thing as a forced relationship between an adult and a child, or between siblings". Warren is trying to point out that, if we redefine marriage to include same sex couples, then it opens the door to additional definitions. Meaning, proponents of plural marriage or marrying immediate family members can argue they should be legalized. Who could say what consenting adults can or cannot do? Those proponents can use the same arguements as same sex marriage proponents. Where does one draw the line? Do we even need to draw a line?

Posted by: Black5jack | December 24, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Why to keep up the good fight, Mr. Capehart. It's amazing how Joe S. & Pat B. kept refusing to let you speak. Homophobia in action.

But you did make some _excellent_ points!

With all best wishes,

Posted by: catuskoti | December 24, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Having Warren to lead the Invocation..

an a
Big Fat Opportunity...

It opens the discussion wide open.


America's new and latest Prejudice.

Let the Battling Conversations Begin in Ernest.

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | December 24, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The difference between Rick Warren and ALL other preachers is that he is evangelically honest about his hatred of gays. He is NO different from any other preacher who has EVER given an invocation at an inaugeral.
The gay insistence that they be able to receive the marriage sacrament from religious institutions which, EVERY ONE OF THEM, exclude gays reflects a personal spiritual need that a secular leader cannot, and should not, impose on the churches. They are entitled to their hatred, their exclusionary theologies, and their narrow-mindedness.
There isn't a one of them who is willing to dignify gay relationships.

Posted by: cms1 | December 24, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

there are a lot of angry liberals out there about the warren invite. but please remember, o'bama's theme has been inclusion. you can't foster change if you start playing the same exclusionary tactics the republicans have been playing. really, what change then is happening if you go down to the level from which we are trying to crawl out.

Posted by: janegrey777 | December 24, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Your post complains about his choice, but it ultimately hits the nail on the head for why this choice is good for BGLT rights, as well as for many other progressive causes.

Fundamentally, honest dialogue and exchange of ideas is going to lead people to accept gay rights. Yes, it emotionally stings supporters of gay rights to have Warren picked. But an investment in a more open political dialogue is an investment in gay rights. BGLT Americans and their supporters may feel upset in the moment, but this decision is good for their (our) cause.

Posted by: davestickler | December 24, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Until a couple of days ago, this was up on the Saddleback site: "'Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin.' (Lev. 18:22 TLB) ... It's not judgmental to say that what the Bible calls a sin is a sin, that's just telling the truth. "

If you believe that's the truth, how can you "re-purpose" it as Warren says he is doing?! And what's with him denying that he compared homosexuality to pedophelia or incest?

Is the belief that gay people are sinners like pedophiles really the message Obama wants to share as he begins his administration? To me, it's quite different, much more important -- and insidious -- than whether you support gay marriage or not.

Posted by: nancy15 | December 24, 2008 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Is half of this article missing? Did someone cut away a couple of paragraphs?

First doubts about the choice of Warren, then "the bright side" - and then nothing more?

Posted by: asoders22 | December 24, 2008 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Melissa Etheridge wrote an interesting article yesterday explaining her feelings about Rick Warren. Many of these turncoat Obama voters might be surprised at what she had to say. Sorry, I don't have the link but you could probably Google it...

Posted by: distance88 | December 24, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

The title of your column is "post-partisan"

What do you think that means?

That means you will have a mixture of views out there???

Do you think that "post-partisan" includes only views that agree with you???


Posted by: Yes37thandORulesForever | December 24, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Mike Barnacle got the best of Jonathan Capehart. Gay marriage rights is not a civil rights question: it is not a matter of having existing rights extended to those denied those rights, like blacks. Gay marriage involves a re-definition, a new definition of marriage. That is not a civil rights question and those vs. gay marriage need not fear being called racist or homophobic because they defend the only kind of marriage that has existed for 5000 years of civilization, even or barbarism. There is nowhere an example of gay marriage in the law or custom of any society.

Posted by: ravitchn | December 24, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

some of the rhetoric here is absurd. first, Warren is correct - he did not equate homosexuality with pedophelia. He said he was opposed to a man and his sister calling themselves married, a man and a boy, and a man and several wives. He was then asked if he felt the same way about gays calling themselves married and he said yes. Rev. Lowry feels the same way, and said so. In no way did he suggest that BEING homosexual was in any way like BEING a pedophile.

I won't defend him beyond that, but stretching facts does no one's case any good. the fact is that Warren and the subject in general have been "outed" and the result is a dialogue that has been elevated orders of magnitude beyond any previous level. that's an amazing accomplishment. The GLBT agenda will be so much more advanced by putting Warren and the subject under scrutiny than by ignoring it it isn't even debatable, and nothing short of having him do the invocation would have done nearly as much.

The dialogue itself should focus on the distinction between sacramental marriage and the civil construct, and the fact that neither has any copyright on the use of the word with respect to either. The religious side intentionally blurs the distinction, and the GLBT side would do well to explain it better on its way to the ultimate objective.

Posted by: JoeT1 | December 24, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

SteelWheel1: your argument rests on the premise that allowing gay marriage will result in more gay relationships between men who would otherwise form heterosexual ones because that's the only way they could get married. that's ridiculous.

cms1: the GLBT community, to my knowledge, has never argued that priests, rabbis, and ministers must perform sacramental marriages in their churches and synagogues. At least not as part of the legal battles (of course they advocate it, but they don't argue it as a legal right). The Prop 8 claim that the CA supreme court decision would lead to that, and to hate speech charges and loss of tax exemption against ministers and churches was a false tactic by supporters that seems to have worked. no one is trying to sue Warren to require him to perform a gay marriage at Saddleback, even though he has a license from the state so that the ceremonies he does perform are recognized by it.

And Barnacle is wrong. The civil rights connected with civil marriage have nothing to do with religion and culture, it is civil rights. Adam and Eve did not hold title to the Garden of Eden as tenants by the entireties. There is no earthly or biblical reason for gays to be deprived of identical legal relationships, at which point the debate reduces to the word marriage alone. if we get the debate to that point, the battle is won.

Posted by: JoeT1 | December 24, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm concerned about the attempts to demonize those whose support biological marriage. This seems to be - consciously or unconsciously - behind the attacks on the choice of Rick Warren.

The cause of the demonization seems to be several strongly held - but poorly thought through - views about marriage. First is the idea that biology has no central role in it - procreation is not the issue. Second is the idea that individuals should be allowed to do what ever they want - personal needs override societal needs. Third is the idea of marriage as legitimization - society's formal sanction is needed to buttress self-worth.

Acknowledging the legitimacy of different views on these and related issues requires facing them head on, a painful process that can be avoided by demonizing the "other".

Posted by: Steve_F | December 24, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse


You stated: "There is no earthly or biblical reason for gays to be deprived of identical legal relationships, at which point the debate reduces to the word marriage alone. if we get the debate to that point, the battle is won."
The problem with that argument is that it is the slipperiest of slippery slopes, and makes the courts force what the ballot box will not allow. If the courts then define 'marriage' as between two people, aren't you then denying the civil rights of bisexuals and polygamists? Wouldn't they be the next round of Post Partisan forums? You can imagine the round of forums after that.

You can argue that same-sex marriage is different from multiple marriage or other expressions of relationship, however, the Poly's and the folks at NAMBLA will not - they are already gearing up for this one. And - let me be clear - while I do not equate same-sex relationships between adults with the perversion of NAMBLA, unfortunately they do and would use this as level into the court system.

Alas for you and other gay couples, this won't go through the courts any time soon, nor would it stand on the books very long if it did. America doesn't want gay marriage, the president-elect doesn't want gay marriage and won't appoint Judges that do.

I wish you a peaceful Christmas.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 24, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

It's true that Obama believes (ok, knows) that gays and allied progressives have no place to go, just as Clinton and Gore knew in 1993 that labor and allied progressives had no place to go when they rammed NAFTA down the throat of the Democratic majority in the Congress. So they went nowhere. They stayed home in the 1994 election, in a massive why-vote-for-these-bums boycott, resulting in the loss by the Democrats of the House and of governorships across the country. Later, when Gore ran for president, people were reminded that he started his vice presidency by sneeringly, contemptuously buying up Congressional votes for NAFTA as if they were so many pork belly futures, and ended it by trying to hand poor Elian Gonzalez over to a Florida family court controlled by the freedom-loving Miami mafia. (In this he even went against Clinton.) The amazing result was that a lot of people Gore was counting on to vote for him, didn't. My, my.

Posted by: landsend | December 24, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse


Well said. I think when you demonize another, then you don't have to take him/her seriously - they are, after all, just that demon thing over there.

The converse of that, is wrapping oneself in victim-hood. That way, you don't have to engage the other person's arguments either.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 24, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"Melissa Etheridge wrote an interesting article yesterday explaining her feelings about Rick Warren"

I read her article, and the only thing in it was that Warren declared himself a big fan of hers and was extremely charming, and she bought it lock stock and barrel - without him really changing his mind. But then, all con men have to charming.

I also watched his "I didn't really say that"-video. In that, he says that he loves his enemies. Which means that if he hugs you and tells you he loves you, he can still consider you his enemy.

Posted by: asoders22 | December 24, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

WestTexan2008, you need to get a grip on reality. That wild and crazy nation, Canada, has had gay marriage for some years now. There is no push to legalize NAMBLA or "polys", there is no slippery slope, the sky hasn't fallen, everybody seems quite happy. In Quebec, historically Catholic Quebec, support for gay marriage is the strongest of any province in the country, between 69% and 77%, depending on what poll is consulted. The current (minority) Canadian Conservative government promised a parliamentary vote on what had been a federal court decision, but by the time the vote came around, opposition to gay marriage had collapsed. The government went ahead with the Parliament vote as a pro forma exercise, and gay marriage won overwhelmingly.

Posted by: landsend | December 24, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

This morning Prince Fukri told me informally of the King's, his wives' and the government's disappointment. It's not over Rev. Warren, whose views are accepted; it's because the Family felt its rather generous contribution would be utilised in part to fund Imam Louis Farrakhan and his entourage for the ceremony.

Posted by: HassanAliAl-Hadoodi | December 24, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I have a grip on reality. The U.S. is not Canada - different political system (representative republic vs. parliamentary democracy), different people, different set of values, different court system.

And Canada is having its problems with gay marriage as well - just check out the 'liberal' Canadian Anglican Church and the problems that they are having. And while gay marriage may work in Holland or even eventually Canada, the vast, vast, vast majority of Americans are opposed to it. Even the most liberal state in the country crushed the gay marriage ruling of one of the courts. That, unfortunately for the proponents of gay marriage, is reality.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 24, 2008 4:48 PM | Report abuse

JoeT1 wrote:
SteelWheel1: your argument rests on the premise that allowing gay marriage will result in more gay relationships between men who would otherwise form heterosexual ones because that's the only way they could get married. that's ridiculous.
My point is why does same sex civil unions need to be accepted as "marriage" when all rights of the traditional marriage is or can be extended to include civil union without the "civil union" be defined as marriage. Why does gays want to have the same definitions as heterosexual marriage which is the bedrock of civilization?

Posted by: SteelWheel1 | December 24, 2008 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Looking at the firestorm in this forum, I am not surprised.

First we GLBT's (I am gay) need to relax a little. I am not too happy with the results on Proposition 8 and Pastor Warren's stance on it. However, we need to start talking to each other, both the GLBT community and the relgious conservatives. We may not get anything done and our views might not change much, but it is much harder to demonize someone when you see the human face behind it.

Obama's choice, while controversial, is an example of the need to sit down and talk to each other and even agree to disagree. From what I've heard of Warren, he reminds me of a pastor friend of mine who, while disagrees my sexual orientation on religious grounds, can at least live with the fact that I'm gay. He may hope that I may become straight (not likely) but at least he sees me more than an abstraction.

To those who hold to the theory that gay marriage breaks a tradition, sacrament, etc. A marriage is a contract which establishes certain rights. Every time I see my heterosexual friends get married I am excluded from the over one-thousand rights they enjoy and wonder how can they not understand that gay people need the same legal enshrinement of their own domestic relations. As landsend stated, that for more than 3 years in Canada and for over 2 in Spain, gay civil marriage has been legalized and things have continued along just fine.

Finally, to GLBTs, while the choice of Warren to give the Presidential invocation despite his views on gay marriage, perhaps we should actually wait until Obama governs and see where he moves on issues of discrimination against GLBTs. As much as I wish a nirvana in which all of our wishes are completed, let us be honest with ourselves, better a glass half full than one half empty.

Clinton's mistake in concentrating on gays on the military and the muddle of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was an example of ramming the policy down the throat of a skeptical electorate. Instead let's see if dialogue can get the less controversial parts of the GLBT search for equality through and deal with the divisive parts later.

After all, the Israelites had to walk the desert 40 years to get to the Promised land, or to quote Yoda: "Patience for a Jedi must also eat!"

Just thought for both sides of the debate to consider.

Posted by: Kruhn1 | December 24, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse


Thank you for your post. I agree with most of it and disagree with some. What I agree with most is your tone – you are neither vitriolic and angry nor snotty and condescending. Thank you.

Where I also agree is that dialogue is the place to start. It is too easy to demonize the other and then simply write them off – sinner, homophobe, bigot, reprobate, fascist and Nazi – are all easier to write then actually engaging the other. Too many posters want to be boxers and land the knock-out blow (legal or cheap-shot), rather than wrestle. When you wrestle with somebody, you actually have to hang on to them and engage them at a personal level.

With that in mind, I appreciate the story of your pastor friend. You seem to have caught on to what some Christians mean by loving the sinner, while hating the sin. Many seem to believe that in order to love them, you must accept and endorse their behavior as well. You and your friend have a friendship that transcends agreement.

However, I disagree with you as well; notably with regard to your comments on marriage. In the eyes of most Americans, Marriage is more than a contract. And while almost half of marriages fail in the U.S., the American people still hold the institution of marriage in very high regard. They see it as an ideal that they hope to meet. The vast majority hold it sacred in that they tie it to religious belief; which is why so few Americans opt for a civil wedding. Even if they have little or no ‘church’ in them, most Americans want to get married in a church (or other place of worship) or by clergy.

As in my last post to landsend, the U.S. is not Canada, nor is it Spain. Canada and most of Europe are no where near as religious as the U.S. Both Canada and most of Europe have more lax views on cohabitation – while it happens often in the U.S., it is viewed as pre-marriage rather than an end to itself. Many European countries, including Spain, make living together more tax-advantageous than marriage. I don’t think that it is a good argument to say, “It works in Canada and Spain, so it will work in the U.S.” Using that same line of reasoning, one could say that Sharia works well in Saudi Arabia… Again, different people, different culture, different country.

Again, I thank you for the tone of your post. If we do not chat again today, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 24, 2008 5:55 PM | Report abuse

WestTexan2008 You really are going to have to do better than saying that "Canada is not the U.S." -- which didn't manage to answer the point that was being made, or (we can't help noticing) even try. Scare-mongering of the type that you are using was also tried in Canada, and it worked for a time, until people actually saw that none of the things you predict came true. In Canada, as in the U.S., opposition to gay marriage was fierce until it became law--not through parliamentary action but through a Supreme Court decision. Initially the Conservative Party figured it had a winning political issue that would propel it into power: a demand that gay marriage be put up to a vote in the parliament. They did win a (minority) government, mainly because of a Liberal Party corruption scandal, but some of their support certainly came from opposition to gay marriage. However, by the time the issue was put to a vote, opposition to gay marriage had collapsed, because people had noticed that despite the fear tactics that you used in your "NAMBLA and polys" posting, nothing of the sort happened. People like you were revealed to be liars. And by the way, we have noticed that Canadians are not really all that different from Americans, your efforts to claim otherwise notwithstanding. As for your claim that Spain is not nearly as religious as the US, that would come as a surprise to one of the two major political parties in the country, currently out of power, which is firmly linked to the Catholic Church. Catholic, mainline Protestant and rightwing evangelical parties also have solid voting blocs in Holland. Fundamentalists are on the decline, yes, as is happening in the US (as fundamentalists are noticing to their dismay) -- opposition to gay marriage here is also on the decline. Your attempt to isolate the US from its European and North American allies is also collapsing.

Posted by: landsend | December 24, 2008 6:20 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: willemkraal | December 24, 2008 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Please put aside the snotty attitude and the name-calling - I will treat you and your posts with respect; please do the same. Kruhn1's post would be a good one for you to read - he disagrees in an agreeable way.

Canada is not 13% black. Canada is not 14% Latino. Canada does not have 42% of its population in worship during any given week. The polls and the votes of every ballot on gay marriage have crushed any initiative in that direction. Those are huge differences with Canada.

Spain has less than 2% of its population in church on any given Sunday - it's political parties are religious in name only. The rest of Europe is similar. There are now more Muslims in Mosque on Friday in France than Christians in church on Sunday, even though Muslims are only 8% of the population.

Obama realizes that the U.S. is a religious country. He is also against gay marriage for personal, un-named reasons. Please don't get your hopes up for gay marriage in the U.S. in this lifetime. It has been shown time and time again, that the vast majority of Americans are against it.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 24, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

Tolerance of intolerance leads not to tolerance, but intolerance.

Posted by: laughternforgetting | December 24, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

The amount of hate and divisiveness demonstrated by the gay and lesbian community is indicative of just how hypocritical they are in their quest for "rights" they believe they deserve. I have been shaking my head at the uproar over this issue because the GBLT community lost an opportunity to take the high road and demonstrate dignity, tact, acceptance and class.

Posted by: stormarie | December 24, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

WestTexan: why are you assuming I am gay? I'm not, rather I am just an intelligent attorney who knows the issue in detail. there is no slippery slope, I am quite capable of distinguishing between a relationship based on genuine biological sexual orientation and pedophelia, or polygamy.

SteelWheel: I'm not talking about redefining anything. If gays are granted genuinely identical civil unions that are legally indistinguishable from civil marriages up to, and including, full faith and credit in other states, such that they enjoy all the legal rights and presumptions that apply to married heterosexuals, we are left with the mere use of the word by gays to describe their relationship. last time I checked, this is a free country, so what would you do, arrest gay people who call themselves married if they are merely civilly united? wash their mouths out with soap? would you be happy if the clerk issued blue marriage certificates to hetero's that say Marriage (traditional straight) and green ones that say Marriage (other adult)? this is where the argument against gay marriage breaks down. unless you would deprive gays of some portion of the legal constellation of rights associated with the word, then all that's left is the word, and depriving them of that is just pointless and silly.

suppose we all just got together and conspired to refer to civilly united gays as married. what would be the harm?

Posted by: JoeT1 | December 24, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Marriage means the union of husband and wife. It does not mean anything else. Ninety-nine point ninety-nine percent of humanity understands that simple and profound truth and would be baffled at the clever sophisticates who struggle so mightily to argue against the self-evident. Endlessly discussing this is an enormous waste of time and a crashing bore. We're not going to change the definition of marriage because we can't. Get over it. Next topic.

Posted by: zjr78xva | December 24, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

westtexan2008, I haven't called you names. You have engaged in scaremongering with references to a "slippery slope" to "NAMBLA and polys" as anyone can read just a few posts above. You seem to be trying to tiptoe away from that. I pointed out that the same fearmongering was used in Canada, and elsewhere. Once gay marriage was in effect for a year or so, people noticed that none of the dreaded things came to pass, and that those who had been peddling such stories were lying. As for your demographic report: Canada not only has very large Afrocaribbean and Latino communities (you should visit Montreal or Toronto, or smaller prairie cities like Winnipeg sometime); there is also a very large and generally traditional Portuguese community, as well as large Greek, Italian, Vietnamese and Chinese communities, plus huge Polish, Ukranian and other Eastern European immigrant populations. Most important for this discussion, there are extremely large, and very conservative, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh immigrant populations. In fact, their numbers are so large that they have a substantial representation in Parliament, something that one does not found in the US Congress.
You seem to want us to swallow the idea that the opposition to gays is religiously inspired. The religious posturing is as much a sham as it was 150 years ago in this country, when a much much larger debate took place about what the Bible had to say about slavery. In that case, slaveowners had a far better case to make with their cherry-picked Biblical quotations -- not only Old Testament but lots in the New -- Paul, as usual, but with lots and lots of quotes. As with the gay debate, their opponents also had plenty of chapter and verse quotes, starting with the Golden Rule -- although slaveowners had an exception clause for that, and a ready explanation for everything else. Every church in this country, except the Quakers who had no base in slaveholding areas, had a section of the church that endorsed slavery. Religious leaders carefully studied the Scriptures and after much contemplation and no doubt much fasting and prayer, came to the same conclusions about slavery as the wealthiest and most powerful members of their congregations. Eventually, people began to dismiss this "religious" debate as phony, and said, "Look, we don't care what the Bible says about slavery, or what you claim it says based on your selective quotations. We're not having it." The same is happening, worldwide, with the gay debate.

Posted by: landsend | December 24, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

zjr78xva, if you really believe that 99.99 percent of humanity believe that marriage means the union of husband and wife, you should visit Buddhist countries in Southeast Asia such as Laos and Thailand (where wealthy men often have very large numbers of wives) and Muslim countries (where the number of wives is limited to 4). I remember being astounded as a student in Paris to find that a Laotian student friend was the son of the 20th wife of his father, a wealthy prince. I realized then that I had much to learn, as I would venture to say you do. Ditto for historical claims: assertions that marriage has meant husband-and-wife for 5000 years, as some have claimed, goes against what is written in the Bible (Solomon, who wrote the Psalms, had 300 wives), and what we know of many countries in modern times. And of course, homosexuality is much more tolerated in some countries than in others; to use the Thai example, a prime minister in the 1970s was known to be gay (at a time when such a thing would have been unthinkable in Western Europe or North America, even for much lower level officials), and the only people who appear to have been shocked were recently arrived tourists.

Posted by: landsend | December 24, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

landsend, I am in awe of your erudition, but even I am aware of polygamy. That a man may enter into many marriages concurrently changes nothing about the essential definition of a marriage as the union of husband and wife. The man's wives are not married to each other: Each is his wife, and he is the husband of each of them. Marriage is still predicated on the complementarity of the two sexes. Yes, 99.99% of humanity, even (or especially) those who practice polygamy, find it preposterous that this would be a topic of debate.

Posted by: zjr78xva | December 24, 2008 9:11 PM | Report abuse

My apologies for assuming you are gay. As an attorney you can appreciate how much slippery slopes are in the eye of the beholder. Here in Texas we've had a recent example of this very slippery slope. When the FLDS polygamist group received Ken Law's ruling to return the children, the Austin NAMBLA hailed the ruling a 'proof' that it was time to rethink what constitutes a 'loving' relationship. Again, my apologies for assuming you are gay.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 24, 2008 9:17 PM | Report abuse

You specifically called me a liar. You call Canada a archetype for gay marriage in the U.S. but according to their last census, only 6% was non-white.

Let me also be clear - I never said that I was personally opposed to gay marriage - only that America was. It wasn't 150 years ago; it was last month. You seem to think that if you argue enough, that will change. But America has said loud and clear - no gay marriage. Blacks, Latinos, most whites and those pesky Christians don't want it.

Your slavery argument doesn't hold water because the majority of Americans were in favor of freeing slaves including a large number in the South.

I'm sorry is this hurts your feelings, but America isn't interested in your issue except to exclude it from the mainstream. If you'd like to show me some facts and figures about the U.S. (not Canada or Spain), that say differently I'd be happy to see them.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 24, 2008 9:28 PM | Report abuse

As it is inevitable that Rick Warren will give the invocation, we must always remember as people of faith that ultimately it is God in partnership with mankind and not Rick Warren or Barack Obama who will guide this nation out of the wilderness. Clerics of all denominations and men of power should remain cognizant of that key point.

Prayers are mere words if God does not choose to heed them.

God loves all His children and Rick Warren or no one else can alter that fact. If his heart does not echo the words, they will fall on deaf ears and will be rendered ineffective. He holds no greater power than God decides to grant him.

The invocation will be nullfied if it is not based in truth and pure fellowship. Or at least, that is what I believe. It is God who will render the true invocation for this presidency.

Ultimately, the power is not Rick Warren's and he answers to the same God we all must. The message is not the messenger.

If we say our silent prayers for the nation while Warren says his, ours will be heard equally.

Posted by: hakafos44 | December 24, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

After all the divisiveness Obama probably sees now the distraction caused by this Warren thing, which was likely the work of his own religious advisers, you know, the ones that got him to give that faith base initiative speech in Zanesville, Ohio last summer.

So, the least he can do is just say (the Warren thing), "It was a boneheaded idea."

And, of course, Warren would drop to his knees on that one, after which Obama could then focus on economic, social, security and international issues.

Posted by: FromtheRaft | December 24, 2008 11:19 PM | Report abuse

WestTexan wrote, "...In the eyes of most Americans, Marriage is more than a contract... The vast majority hold it sacred in that they tie it to religious belief..."

With respect, so do I. And I am gay. And my partner and I were married. In a synagogue. In fact, in one of the largest congregations in the country. I believe we were the first in that particular institution, but not the last.

Tradition is important. So is inclusion in the community. I fear that many --perhaps including you-- see gay people as some sort of "other", as iconoclasts out to break down traditions. Actually, no. Most of us do not. We seek to participate in traditions.

I am gay. I don't know why I am gay. I know, with certainty (I was 'there'! ;-)), that I did not choose to be gay. In fact, for much of my life, I did my best to deny it.

Be that as it may, I am gay. I strive to live my life honorably, morally, responsibly, and fully.

My journey, like that of many (maybe most) people, was filled with challenges. One of mine was how to live my live honorably and fully. I haven't always made wise choices in my life, but in this case, I believe I have. My partner and I are in a committed relationship and have been for many years. We have signed a formal, religiously-binding ketubah (wedding contract). We honor it. We honor God in our lives.

All that you might find interesting. But, well, it's really not particularly relevant when it comes to how we believe the LAW should deal with our relationship. Regardless of whether we have a religious contract, we seek a civil one. Currently, we are legal strangers to one another, despite a shared mortgage, shared bank account, shared lives, and yes, wills. That, I believe, is wrong. And needlessly cruel on the part of our society--a society premised on the notion of equal protection under the law.

If I thought that granting us legal status --as a couple-- would be harmful to society, I would oppose it. After all, I care about my society. (Hey, we seem to be one of the few couples that actually pays our taxes, honestly, to the penny--or as best as we can determine them.) We want to see a healthy, thriving society.

And we want clarity in the law.

Pastor Warren may not understand God the way we do. You may not either. That's fine. My relationship with God really is between God and me.

But this is our (collective) society. It belongs to ALL of us-- not just those in the majority, or those able to wield political power. And not just those who see God in one particular light.

I would urge you to consider the consequences when a bare majority (52%!) chips away at the equal protection of a small minority.

After all, we ALL belong to one minority or another. And none of us should have to worry that our basic rights will be voted on by groups with larger numbers than ours.

Posted by: ricklinguist | December 24, 2008 11:48 PM | Report abuse

WestTexan wrote, "Here in Texas we've had a recent example of this very slippery slope..."

I am curious: Are there independent reasons for opposing polygamy? Or do all the reasons for opposing it rest on gay marriage becoming legal?

That is, it seems to me, that you ought to be able to make an independent case against polygamy regardless of the status of same-sex marriage.

If you cannot, then I don't think it is either fair or logical to depend on restrictions against gay people to make the case for you. It makes it seem that you really don't have any rationale for opposing EITHER gay marriage OR polygamy other than the fear that the OTHER may become legal! ;-)

Posted by: ricklinguist | December 24, 2008 11:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering what limits, if any, the majority may place on the rights of minorities.

It seems pretty clear from votes (as well as from many comments on this thread) that gay people have a LOT of people out there who simply don't like them very much. I understand that. So it seems to me that we ought to try to figure out just how protected --or NOT-- gay people are from the "tyranny of the majority".

Could the majority vote to, say, deny them the right to live in certain counties in California? If not, why not?

Could the majority vote to, say, deny them the right to any jobs that weren't on a designated list for them (say, waiters or hairdressers)? If not, why not?

Could the majority vote to, say, deny them drivers licenses? if not, why not?

The California constitution contains an "equal protection" clause that covers gay people as much as non-gay people. And the California Supreme Court ruled that, under "equal protection", gay people indeed have the fundamental right to marry.

So if THAT part of "equal protection" is null and void, which other parts of "equal protection" for gay people could the majority strike down?

Serious question for those who believe, truly believe, in the "will of the people".


Posted by: ricklinguist | December 25, 2008 12:02 AM | Report abuse

In the interest of fairness to President Bush:

Bush signs law protecting retirement savings for gay couples.

Surprising, but: Thank you, Mr. President.

And Merry Christmas to all.

Posted by: ricklinguist | December 25, 2008 12:15 AM | Report abuse

There are two kinds of marriage ceremonies:
Civil and Religious.

I am happy to give Warren a veto on Religious
Marriages at his church.

However, it's clear Warren also wants a veto on
Civil Marriages of consenting adults he has never met as well.

Posted by: lesfab29 | December 25, 2008 2:01 AM | Report abuse

Well, thank you, WestTexan2008, you've made my point. In the 1830s most Americans did not oppose slavery. Abolitionists were regarded as obnoxious, intolerant extremists. Even many of those who did oppose it wanted to end it at some point in the future, not any time soon. By the late 1850s, opinion had gradually shifted, in much the same way that opinion is shifting on equal rights for gays. But even in the 1860 election Lincoln ran on a "this far and no further" platform, proposing to limit slavery to those states where it already existed, not to abolish it. Lincoln did not win a majority of the vote; in fact his 1860 plurality didn't even reach 40%. And yes, much of the rest of the world was far ahead of the US -- the British had abolished slavery throughout the British empire in the 1830s.

Posted by: landsend | December 25, 2008 6:15 AM | Report abuse

ricklinguist and landsend,

Good Morning and Merry Christmas.

landsend; Actually, you make my point as well.

While I would dispute your figures as to how many Americans were or were not in favor of slavery, the number is not really the point. When one considers that less than 10% of whites in the South owned slaves (wealthy and with a lot of influence in politics) and with the influx of so many poor from Europe - notably Irish and Eastern Europeans - slavery was already a dying institution. Slaves were becoming 'too expensive.' By the 1850's a slave cost enough that it took almost 20 years to 'recoup the investment' - the Irish worked cheaper. The last large Western country to have 'official' slavery was Brazil which continued the practice until peaceful manumission in the 1880's. In addition, there had always been a powerful abolitionist movement in the U.S. (John Brown, the Underground Railroad, et al).

There is no equivalent for gays in the U.S. That is my point. There is no large movement among non-gays to 'free the gays' - quite the opposite. The vast majority of Americans do not see gay marriage as a 'justice' issue; they see it as a insignificantly small, but vocal (and in many cases, obnoxious) minority who want to change the very fabric of 'their' culture. While Canadians, Spaniards, Dutch, Swedes and Danes may allow gay marriage, most Americans actively oppose it - Prop 8 and the 30 states with recent "marriage acts" demonstrate that. Latinos and Blacks, including the president-elect, do not want gay marriage. I am sorry if that upsets you, but it would take a cultural shift of seismic proportions to change that.


Thank you for your civil tone.
As I stated to landsend above, I don't think the America people separate the issues of gay marriage from plural marriage or other 'non-traditional' relationships. I think that this is particularly strong in the Black and Latino communities - ironically, groups that have struggled with the nuclear family. I think that it is also strong in the evangelical ranks (44% of Americans call themselves 'born-again' or 'evangelical' according to the last census) who count the traditional family as the bedrock of society. They see the two relational options as 'married man and woman (1 if each)' and 'other' with 'other' being bad. Because of this, they also frown on heterosexual cohabitation and heterosexual promiscuity as equal attacks on the nuclear family. George Barna's group has done a great deal of research in this area.

Again, I wish you both a Merry Christmas.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 25, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I think I depart from your view early on in that I don't really think symbols matter. If for whatever reason Obama likes him he can pick him.

As to the question of equality there will never be true equality anywhere, it is an elusive dream. What we need to strive for is equality of opportunity.

This has raised the debate and it is for the US public to debate and reach a decision as to whether marriage is OK. But at the moment it is just not the most important issue on Obama's plate.

Posted by: megaphone | December 25, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, I missed this earlier post. I appreciate your candor and the sharing of your experiences - and yes, I suspect that have truly wrestled with your 'gayness' just as many have struggled with identity issues and our place in society.

Please let me respond to two paragraphs.

You stated: "I would urge you to consider the consequences when a bare majority (52%!) chips away at the equal protection of a small minority.

After all, we ALL belong to one minority or another. And none of us should have to worry that our basic rights will be voted on by groups with larger numbers than ours."

The 52% represents California, perhaps the most gay-friendly state in the union. Alas, it does not represent America as a whole.

Yes, we all belong to various minorities, but the nature of democratic politics is to increase the size of 'your' group and/or build coalitions with others. The gay community has a lot of money and volunteer help, which politicians will use, but not at the risk of losing the raw voting power of other minority groups. I speak specifically of the Black and Latino communities and more specifically of the Prop 8 vote.

I also suspect, though I have no data other than personal anecdotal evidence, that the perception of gays among other minorities is that gays don't 'need' justice as much as they do. That is, they believe that gays are wealthier, more educated and live easier lives. Again, I have no hard data concerning that, but it is a commonly articulated view in my experience. That may be why so many Blacks become angry when gay rights proponents compare the quest for gay marriage with the struggle for racial equality.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 25, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

WestTexan2008 wrote, "..Yes, we all belong to various minorities, but the nature of democratic politics is to increase the size of 'your' group and/or build coalitions with others."

When my partner and I had our religious ceremony, all but a handful of the guests were heterosexual. They consisted of our family members and friends. Post-wedding, we held a celebratory party. Co-workers, more friends and neighbors attended.

A few years ago, I was named "citizen of the year" by my county for some of the community work I do. The local Chamber of Commerce gave me a plaque at an awards ceremony. There, sitting beside me, was my partner, whom I introduced to the group. I then got a standing ovation--presumably for my community work rather than for my luck in picking such a great partner. ;-)

The size of 'our' group increases everytime a gay person is honest about his life, and everytime a gay couple celebrates its commitment publicly. There's no line of demarcation separating my life from the lives of those around me. They get to see us living ours everytime they run into us at the supermarket or every community association meeting we attend. And everytime the issue of same-sex marriage gets discussed, believe it or not, it becomes a little less marked and a little less startling. For all.

Internet considerations aside, do you really think we could have been having this conversation 20 years ago?

The shift is palpable. The 52% vote in California was one of those obvious steps along the way--civil rights battles ALWAYS proceed by fits and starts.

Willing to bet how the NEXT vote in California on this issue will go in a few years?

Posted by: ricklinguist | December 25, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

WestTexan wrote, "...The vast majority of Americans do not see gay marriage as a 'justice' issue; they see it as a insignificantly small, but vocal (and in many cases, obnoxious) minority who want to change the very fabric of 'their' culture. ...I am sorry if that upsets you, but it would take a cultural shift of seismic proportions to change that.

Thank you for your civil tone. I'd like to respond to part of your response. There's a lot there, and, well, it is a holiday (and there's lots of eating yet to be done. ;-))

The very first record that I ever asked my parents to buy for me was "Love and Marriage". I was six. ;-)

While it would be decades before I accepted the fact that I was gay, I held out hope for a long time that I wasn't, and that I would eventually marry a woman and live "happily ever after". I believed in that song.

Why wouldn't I? I grew up a part of my society, with the same set of beliefs as the people around me. And trust me: back then, NO ONE was talking about marriage equality for gay couples, including me.

For a long period of my life, I just resigned myself to the notion that I would live my life alone. Then, I shifted to the position that I could live my life honorably and honestly by sharing it with someone I truly did love.

In more recent years, after much thought, introspection and discussion, I've come to the conclusion that marriage equality is not only fair, but completely reasonable.

The relevance of this story?

I didn't START OUT there. I ended up at that point. After LOTS of thought, painful instrospection, discussion, reading, and yes, prayer.

I do not find it surprising or shocking or depressing that most people don’t see this as a civil rights issue or as an obvious step in treating people fairly. Yet.

Give them time. They'll get it eventually.


Posted by: ricklinguist | December 25, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

(Continued from previous post)

The “cultural shift of seismic proportions” that you say needs to happen actually IS happening right now. I’ve seen it. I saw it in the face of those who attended our religious wedding, almost none of them gay. In a very “red state”. ;-)

And I see it often in the debate over civil marriage: as little as 10 years ago, the notion of “civil unions” was considered radical. Now, civil unions are being touted as a “reasonable compromise” for treating gay couples fairly, and is supported even by many Republicans and a number of prominent conservatives.

In California, the Mormon Church argued IN FAVOR of civil unions for gay people. Forty-eight percent of the voters in California voted against restricting gay couples from marrying. Forty-eight percent! Wow. That’s pretty remarkable in and of itself.

In time, I believe that more and more civilized people will know better than to think that gay people deserve any less consideration than non-gay people. And that when two gay people fall in love and want to protect their relationship legally, that society will not only let them, but will congratulate them.

Society just needs some time to think this through.

After all, it took me over 30 years to understand, and I am gay.

I am willing to cut the rest of my society a little slack.

Posted by: ricklinguist | December 25, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

While I know that you and your partner are Jewish, please allow me to wish you the peace of this day - Merry Christmas.

I applaud your rather civil quest for civil rights, but I suspect that it is a quest caught between two Southern metaphors - 'bailing against the tide' and 'pushing a wet rope uphill in a straight line' - one is impossible, the other profoundly difficult. You are not aided in this quest by the volatile and vocal minority of gays or pro-gays who 'demand' that others acquiesce to their wills. Ever ten good acts that you and your partner do, are undone by one loudmouth with some angry act. An example: after the passing of Prop 8, news program showed a clip of a gay man who explained his profound disappointment. He was very evocative of sympathy. The next clip was a live shot of a group of anti-prop 8 demonstrators (one assumes gay men) who interrupted the newscaster and then assaulted an 80-year-old woman who was counter-demonstrating. Needless-to-say, the viewers were left with a rather bad taste. For that to even make it to the Hill Country of West Texas shows the enormous task of regaining the sympathy of the first man.

The shift in American demographics are also against you. We are becoming more, Black, Latino and Muslim every day.

Do I think that we could have had this conversation 20 years ago. I am not sure about you in your situation; but we in the Episcopal Church have been discussing and debating human sexuality, the Divine Image and what 'true humanity' looks like for decades. It has caused us no end of pain, and our Church is in the process of splitting. I have seen my professional peers, men and women of exhaustive learning and great depth, fall just short of blows over this. But as you point out, at least we keep talking. Unfortunately, most don't bother, choosing instead to demonize the other. For those in favor of expanded gay rights, you are badly out-numbered.

Please also understand that West Texans live in a tension between 'help-out-your-neighbor' and 'mind-your-own-business' that translates into quiet status quo. If you're a drunk or a bagpipe player or a whatever, that's your business until you try to do so on my front lawn.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 25, 2008 11:47 AM | Report abuse


It is good that you are willing to gut the society some slack - you may need to measure out that slack in centuries rather than years.

When polled, many people are very much in favor of civil rights for gays. This often includes civil unions, but not marriage. As in several of my earlier posts, marriage has too much of religious tenor to it and most Americans' religious views don't allow it. And while some religious communities (Episcopal, Reformed Judaism, UCC, et al) are talking through this issue, they are actually smaller minorities than the gays they attempt to champion.

What does this mean? I don't think the seismic shift is anywhere near as strong as you think it is - it certainly isn't approaching gay marriage anytime soon. You are obviously bright and winsome - a good spokesman for your cause - but are there enough of you to offset the obnoxious? Looking at blogs like this one, we can all draw our own conclusions.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 25, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh man!Capehart,You and Cohens+sister are on a roll.Warren more than likely will have to answer to a greater power for his remarks or for trying to lie out of them if he did do this.I tried to read all the comments on this subject but it is hard to do.They are numerous,some hatefull,humerous,ect.The first thing OBAMA should do and in line with getting the economy going is to build a wall, 5mile long,7foot high,and put people without jobs building it.This wall could be used for all the people that feel picked on today and for the people picked on for the last 400 years.Good grief!I do not care for warrens remarks or anybody,s slander remarks.If it is all that bad ,sue him or when the wall gets built go there and complain.I have not senn any names you people have picked out for O. what if he would have picked a gay or a athiest,kkk,Osama B L, Putin or me to say the prayer? Would that have made all happy?

Posted by: m-walters | December 25, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

typo - 'cut' vice 'gut'
The rest you can figure out.

Posted by: WestTexan2008 | December 25, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm a gay man, and I think the reaction to this by my gay brothers and sisters is waaaaaaaaaay over the top. Like it or not, Rick Warren reflects the values and beliefs of the vast majority of Americans. I think Obama is sincere about wanting to include people with a variety of perspectives in his administration... BUT... I also think this is (yet again) a brilliant political move for him.

No, he's not likely to "convert" much of the evangelical base, but it does two things. #1, it reduces their suspicions that he is an ultra-liberal, socialist, godless Muslim hell bent on destroying the fabric of American society and #2, it shores up support of the evangelicals and more conservative elements of those who voted for him. One's values mean nothing politically if you don't win. Obama understands that his primary objective is to WIN, and if he has to throw a small segment of his base "under the bus" then so be it.

I saw a poll today that indicated that Obama's support has INCREASED by 5% during the last couple of weeks. Like it or not, gay people are a very small percentage of the population and the electorate. He did not need us to win. He does, however, need moderates and a segment of the evangelical population to win.

And, ultimately, WINNING is what it's all about.

Posted by: Lokaydokay | December 26, 2008 12:54 AM | Report abuse

kswsting please if you will point to the NEW TESTAMENT passage that condemns homosexuality. Again I call for all "Christians" to start acting like Christ. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. He said a lot about tolerance and the Least among us. Kind of tells me homosexuality wasn't exactly on his radar, as I understand Christian tautology the old testament is to inform not rule. Rick Warren is on record with some bizarre statement that even if it is proven to be biological that he would still condemn gays. If that doesn't violate Christ's teaching...

Posted by: elgunjduts | December 26, 2008 4:27 AM | Report abuse

More significant than Obama's choice of Warren was his defense of this odious pick. In the news conference following the pick Obama said he had been a "fierce advocate" for gay equality his entire political career. He then went on to say he "intended" to be the same fierce advocate during his presidency. Huh? Why insert the word "intended here? Why not just say he will continue to be a "fierce advocate". The term "intend" is the ultimate wiggle word for politicians. Obama has signaled that he "intends" to do nothing for gay and lesbian Americans. All promises made during the campaign will not be kept.
Mr. Obama promised change. I took that to mean no more of the mendacity and venality of the past 16 years. That may be true for most Americans but the LGBT community is being thrown under the bus. He thinks we have nowhere to go. Well I think the LGBT community should just boycott Democrats-no votes, no money, no volunteering, all of which we do at a higher rate than other interest groups. Let's see how the democrats fare in the mid-term elections without us. We will come back to the fold when the following conditions are met: ENDA passed, DOMA and gays in the military gone.
My excitement of Obama winning has turned to anger and bitterness. I, and practically every gay and lesbian person I know, feel excluded from his vision for American. A vision we worked hard for as well. My partner and I have cancelled our plans to come to DC for the inauguration. We have no desire to crash a party we've been disinvited to.

Posted by: cfranch98 | December 26, 2008 9:07 AM | Report abuse

The radical gay and lesbian community and the secular media have such a huge wedgie over this!! You all are enraged! Now what percentage of all of us is this rage affecting? Less than .01%?? Yet the media idiots plaster this in headlines daily and fill up the opinion sections, because they are the editors, and they CAN CAN!!

Get over yourselves!! I bet there are more gay and lesbian evangelicals in this country than those who are whining Ad Nauseum!!

Posted by: jjcrocket | December 26, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

I have never quite gotten the evangelical mindset. And this coming from someone who was raised right smackdab in the mainstream of the Bible Belt in Easter Kentucky. Oh, I don't challenge a person's personal belief system and even approve of those who have found happiness through personal faith. It is this all-consuming, compelling need to bring others into thier belief system even when they have expressed a fairly passionate belief themselves in a belief system that does not agree with the evangelical belief system.

I have never understood the near toxic reaction of true believers when confronted with those who express an alternate view--particularly ateists and agnostics. Rick Warren has an ability to come off as warm and fuzzy in public but when he is confronted with someone who has a passionate alternate view, his more bristly side comes out.

Posted by: jaxas | December 26, 2008 9:33 AM | Report abuse

The radical gay and lesbian community and the secular media have such a huge wedgie over this!! You all are enraged! Now what percentage of all of us is this rage affecting? Less than .01%?? Yet the media idiots plaster this in headlines daily and fill up the opinion sections, because they are the editors, and they CAN CAN!!

Get over yourselves!! I bet there are more gay and lesbian evangelicals in this country than those who are whining Ad Nauseum!!

Posted by: jjcrocket | December 26, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

What we need is a National Day of Abomination. It should be held on a Sunday, since working on Sunday is, according to the Bible, an abomination. Seafood restaurants would make excellent venues for protest, as eating shellfish is, again, an abomination. Perhaps this A-word has become over-hyped and we all need desensitization.

Posted by: tfgray | December 26, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

"Well I think the LGBT community should just boycott Democrats-no votes, no money, no volunteering, all of which we do at a higher rate than other interest groups. Let's see how the democrats fare in the mid-term elections without us."

They will fare just fine. The very politically active segment of the gay community, for the most part, is confined to progressive, largely coastal cities... places the Dems would win anyway.

Posted by: Lokaydokay | December 26, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"By being tapped by Obama for a major role in the inaugural, Warren has now been catapulted to the rarefied air of presidential spiritual adviser."

This statement is as ignorant as it is ridiculous. Asking a preacher to deliver a formal prayer at an event does not mean he is one's spiritual adviser. Obama's understanding of religion in the public square, as evidenced by his pre-election speech reprinted in Sojourner's magazine, is apparently too subtle for mindless liberal opinion writers to understand. Also, most Christians understand that praying for someone (as in pray for your enemies)helps to change the person who is doing the praying. Already it seems to be working a little on Rick Warren, who was "elevated" to fame and influence long before anyone had ever heard of Obama. Obama is just recognizing a fact concerning the way a huge portion of the population thinks, and it is a portion whose energies we need to move this country forward on issues like poverty and global warming. People will get used to a mixed race president and they will eventually get used to gay marriage -- but only if the demonizing and name calling stop and respectful dialogue begins. Why are none of the opinion writers talking about the preacher who is giving the benediction? Come on, Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do before the election. Or weren't you listening?

Posted by: ck1lfp | December 26, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

You don't promote harmony by choosing someone divisive. Obama is not the most sympathetic leader to the gay and lesbian community in his party, perhaps in fact the nearly the least. It wouldn't matter if we weren't the constant target of opportunity for so many spineless demagogues. Given his backing off comments, Warren, however mild he is in some ways in comparison to some - and his good works on AIDS, is of that ilk. His choice was a mistake, and a very deliberate one. A shame.

Posted by: jonthes | December 26, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

It's still called "pandering." Every presidential wannabe has to perform the "kiss the ring" ceremony with America's Pope, the current double-wide Southern Baptist de Jour. Since Jerry Falwell has passed on to the McDonalds in The Sky, that would be "Pastor" Rick Warren. Since Warren's from California, of course he does Hate Lite. Unlike Baptists from the Old South, he has to pretend to be socially relevant. He's discovered AIDS (mostly in Africa, like all good "evangelicals") and global climate change! Of course that in no way changes the fact that the earth is only 6000 years old or that Jesus is going to pop out of a cloud at any second, or that homosexuality is an evil choice, or that the Bible is inspired (every word of it), or that Adam and Eve were real people, etc, etc. Maybe Barak Obama believes some of this drivel. Who cares?

Posted by: robwriter999 | December 27, 2008 2:14 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I were married in a court room by a Judge.
Is my marriage a Civil Union or a Marraige sactified by God. (Who I don't believe in)

What is needed is equal rights. Quit worrying over the wording.

Posted by: jetcitysteve | December 27, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

ROFL Obama said he was a Christian. Didn't you believe him Capehart when you voted for him? Did you think he was lying?
More goofy media.

Posted by: ekim53 | December 27, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I find it curious that so many post writers are dismayed at Obama's selection of Rev Warren for his program. Is it because the Post is such a strong supporter of the distasteful homosexual acts of gays. Get a life....I supported Obama and do not support gay rights...because I do not agree with the life style of homosexuals. As a strong supporter of Obama I believe deep down he does not support gay sexual life style and their imposition on others.

Posted by: gman60 | December 27, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse


You are correct that most of the money gays give to dems comes from the coasts but that money is spent nationwide. Also there are sizable gay communities all over the country and those votes in red/purple states are actually more important than the ones in very blue states. Those votes can actually swing elections. So any boycott of the dems will hurt the party nationwide.

Posted by: cfranch98 | December 27, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse


Thanks for the reply. My argument is that Obama is smart to give a token nod to the evangelican community, even if it does p*s* off some in the gay community.

Like it or not, we (yes, I am gay) make up a tiny fraction of the electorate... certainly no more that 5%. Most of us are going to vote for the Dems regardless. Are we going to protest Obama by voting for Palin? Don't think so. Also, a sizable part of the gay community (including me) could not care less about Warren, the invocation, same sex marriage, etc. Don't assume that support for sames sex marriage among gays is monolithic. It's not.

So, Obama throws a bone to the conservatives, quiets them a bit, and holds on to some of the more right leaning folks who voted for him this time. I say it is a brilliant political move with very little downside for him.

Posted by: Lokaydokay | December 27, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse


looks like we're taking over this thread...

I would have no problem with Obama inviting Warren or his ilk to the White House for as sit down. Granting him this forum legitimizes his views.
Gay marriage was not on my radar screen either until Prop 8 passed. That changed everything. Civil rights of a minority were taken away by the majority, albeit a slim one. That flies in the face of a founding principle of our Constitution-the equal protection clause. That is why the marriage issue resonates far beyond the gay community.
I agree the gay community won't vote for the republicans. I just think we can and will sit out future elections all the way down the ballot to dog-catcher. There is a rage out there over Prop 8 and it has been give a long life by this Warren pick and Obama's defense. It is this defense which grates. I think Obama clearly is telling the LGBT community we are getting nothing from his administration. Read the transcript from the press conference.

Posted by: cfranch98 | December 27, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

I take issue with the "rage" over Prop 8. With whom is the "gay community" angry? The issue was put to a vote, and same sex marriage supporters were outnumbered by those who are against it. Democracy at work. I fault the supporters of same sex marriage for being asleep at the wheel and allowing themselves to be outmaneuvered politcally by the conservatives.

My point is that same sex marriage initiatives have been voted down whenever they have appeared on a ballot in numerous states. All this "rage" and self-righteousness has obviously been counterproductive. Clearly, gay marriage supporters need to find a way to work with and gain the support of the majority of the population that now oppose them. Demonizing an evangelical leader like Warren does nothing to advance the cause.

Posted by: Lokaydokay | December 28, 2008 1:00 AM | Report abuse

I disagree that putting the human rights of a minority to the vote of a majority is democracy. If we had allowed the majority to vote on giving rights to African Americans, we would still be living under Jim Crow. The only way a minority can achieve civil or human rights is for the courts to legislate it and the majority to learn to live with it.

Obama's embrace of and conference of such an honor on a homophobic hate monger like Rick Warren, regardless of how personable he is, is appalling. There's just isn't enough lipstick in the world to put on that pig.

Posted by: brigittepj | December 28, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

"The only way a minority can achieve civil or human rights is for the courts to legislate it and the majority to learn to live with it."

Yes, but court appointments are political, so we still can't write off the need to engage in dialogue with "the other side." Also, as has been shown time and time again, the voters can override legal protections identified by the courts with ammendments to constitutions, legislation, etc.

There is no way to escape the fact that same sex marriage is a political issue, and as the saying goes, politicals makes for strange bedfellows.

Posted by: Lokaydokay | December 28, 2008 8:19 PM | Report abuse

If TRUTH were to have a seat at this inauguration, it would be Richard Dawkins.

Posted by: bob32 | December 29, 2008 6:51 AM | Report abuse

battlegrounds51 wrote: "Sounds to me like left-wing fringers only want diversity of the type that agrees with their agendas 100%."

Well, at least they have that in common with the right-wing fringers, yes?
Extremism exists on BOTH sides, poster.
So, please spare us your gay-bashing.

Posted by: vegasgirl1 | December 29, 2008 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Yonkers, New York
30 December 2008

Those who are unable intellectually to fathom Barack Obama's motive for choosing Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural on January 20th, are less than the brilliant thinker and compleat politician that Mr. Obama is proving to be.

By this one action alone, Mr. Obama is already beginning to prove that his pledge for "Change We Can Believe In" was and is no empty rhetoric.

Mariano Patalinjug

Posted by: MPatalinjug | December 30, 2008 5:52 AM | Report abuse

This is a superb move on Obama's part that has the overwhelming support of most Americans and most black and hispanic voters who are overwhelmingly Christian. The screamers outside Mormon churches are the "divisive" ones.

Gays demand that the Democratic Party commit suicide for them by reverting to the failed cultural revolution from above by judicial fiat politics of the 70's. Gays demand that the Democratic Party mirror their hostility to the religious majority of the American people. Well, Obama very wisely will do neither.

Evangelicals used to be New Deal Democrats and before that William Jennings Bryan Populists. There is no reason why they cannot be part of a Democratic majority that is based on economic populism and national health care that benefits all Americans. Better a Democratic party that can turn Georgia and/or Texas blue. Better that than a smaller, coastal Democratic party based on forcibly imposing San Francisco values on the country.

Minority voters don't give a damn about white secularist lifestyle liberalism and support Obama completely on this.

Posted by: koremori | December 30, 2008 6:18 AM | Report abuse

Warren's opinions about rights for gay people do not disqualify him from having a place in the national dialogue, or even from having a role in Obama's inauguration. However, it is a betrayal for Obama to give Warren the highest spiritual honor at his swearing in. This is tantamount not merely to acknowledging Warren's views, but to enshrining them.

All I can say is: Obama owes me even more than he did for the active part I took in trying to bring about his election. He now owes me his active support for the cause of gay equality in this country.

Posted by: canto1951 | December 30, 2008 9:57 AM | Report abuse

You say you know why Obama chose Warren, then site someone else's opinion. Obama gave his reason at a press conference. What makes E.J.'s or Cohen's "opinion" any better. Well, Obama is neither tone deaf or insensitive and he doesn't take his voters for granted. How can you say that after the campaign that he ran?

Posted by: alliny02 | December 30, 2008 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I want to give cudos to Mr. Obama for his new efforts to bring the Republicans and Democrats together. 1st I'd like to see some of the Democrat pronouncements in the last 20 years that were described as part of the "Living Constitution." sent up to the Supreme Court for examination; obviously I'm a strict constructionist sort of citizen. 2nd I'd like Mr. Obama's real autograph. I know there's not a chance. That's Ok. I'm really pleased with a Democrat for once in a long, long number of years.

Posted by: jackolantyrn356 | December 30, 2008 9:08 PM | Report abuse

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