Barack Obama has asked megachurch pastor Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration. This has made gay activists furious, since Rev. Warren supported Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California:
Barack Obama’s choice of a prominent evangelical minister to perform the invocation at his inauguration is a conciliatory gesture toward social conservatives who opposed him in November, but it is drawing fierce challenges from a gay rights movement that – in the wake of a gay marriage ban in California – is looking for a fight.
Rick Warren, the senior pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California, opposes abortion rights but has taken more liberal stances on the government role in fighting poverty, and backed away from other evangelicals’ staunch support for economic conservatism. But it’s his support for the California constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that drew the most heated criticism from Democrats Wednesday.
“Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans,” the president of Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solomonese, wrote Obama Wednesday. “[W]e feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination.”
The rapid, angry reaction from a range of gay activists comes as the gay rights movement looks for an opportunity to flex its political muscle.
I appreciate Mr. Obama’s gesture to social conservatives in inviting Rev. Warren. But it will be interesting to see if Mr. Obama resists the pressure from his base, which will probably also give him grief over Rev. Warren’s pro-life beliefs. Mr. Obama has a history of throwing associates under the bus–to the point of giving us this new cliche–once they attract negative attention. But he is going to be president now, and he doesn’t have to bend to his critics. I will give our new president major credit if he still lets Rick Warren say the prayer.