Like other gay Republicans, I have been amused by the brouhaha among gay activists, bloggers, and their allies on the left over President-elect Obama’s choice of Pastor Rick Warren, a proponent of Proposition 8 which bars the state of California from recognizing same-sex marriages, to offer the invocation at his inauguration.
Unlike some of my ideological confrères, I don’t see this as a sign that he has thrown his gay supporters under the bus.
Gay activists, however, are up in arms. In a statement responding to Obama’s selection of Warren, Darrel Cummings, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center chief of staff, contended:
If President-elect Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to give his inaugural invocation is intended to send a message to America that he will be an inclusive leader, then he has clearly made a decision that the exclusion of the LGBT community is acceptable.
Excluding gay people? Hardly.
Immediately following Obama’s swearing-in, the Lesbian and Gay Band Alliance (LGBA) will be the “first ever gay contingent” to march in a presidential inaugural parade. To be sure, the invocation is a much more significant than participation in the festivities following the official ceremony, but that inclusion does undercut the argument that the inclusion of Warren means the president-elect has excluded gays.
The presence of that band won’t mollify some on the left. Writing in the Nation, Sarah Posner offers a similar assessment:
Obama’s religious outreach was intended, supposedly, to make religious voters more comfortable with him and feel included in the Democratic Party. But that outreach now has come at the expense of other people’s comfort and inclusion, at an event meant to mark a turning point away from divisive politics.
In a letter to the president-elect, Joe Solmonese, president of Human Rights Campaign, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization,” concurs:
Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans. Our loss in California over the passage of Proposition 8 which stripped loving, committed same-sex couples of their given legal right to marry is the greatest loss our community has faced in 40 years. And by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans have a place at your table.
So, the inclusion of one man in the inaugural ceremonies who opposes gay marriage must necessarily mean the exclusion of gay people altogether?