From John Cloud at TIME:
About three years ago, a reporter at Fortune asked Rick Warren — the successful pastor whom the President-elect has asked to pray at his inauguration — about homosexuality. “I’m no homophobic guy,” Warren said. His proof? He had dined with gays; he has a church “full of people who are caring for gays who are dying of AIDS”; he believes that “in the hierarchy of evil… homosexuality is not the worst sin.” So gays get to eat — sometimes even with Rick Warren! Then they get to die of AIDS — possibly under the care of Rick Warren’s congregants. And when they go to hell, they won’t be quite as far down in Satan’s pit as other evildoers.
But Warren did have a message of hope for gays: they can magically become heterosexuals. (He didn’t explain how, but I suspect he thinks praying really hard would do it, as though most of us who grew up gay and evangelical hadn’t tried that every night as teenagers.) Homosexuality, Pastor Warren explained in the virtually content-free language of the dogmatist, is “not the natural way.” And then he went right for the ick factor, the way middle-school boys do: “Certain body parts are meant to fit together.”
More recently, Warren told beliefnet that he thinks allowing a gay couple to marry is similar to allowing “a brother and sister be together and call that marriage.” He then helpfully added that he’s also “opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage.” The reporter, who may have been a little surprised, asked, “Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?” “Oh, I do,” Warren immediately answered. I wish the reporter had asked the next logical follow-up: if gays are like child sexual abusers, shouldn’t we incarcerate them?
Rick Warren may occasionally sound more open-minded than Jerry Falwell, another plump evangelical who once played a prominent role in U.S. politics. But he’s not. Gays and lesbians are angry that Barack Obama has honored Warren, but they shouldn’t be surprised. Obama has proven himself repeatedly to be a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot. He is far too careful and measured a man to say anything about body parts fitting together or marriage being reserved for the non-pedophilic, but all the same, he opposes equality for gay people when it comes to the basic recognition of their relationships. He did throughout his campaign, a campaign that featured appearances by Donnie McClurkin, a Christian entertainer who preaches that homosexuals can become heterosexuals.
Obama reminds me a little bit of Richard Russell Jr., the longtime senator from Georgia who — as historian Robert Caro has noted — cultivated a reputation as a thoughtful, tolerant politician even as he defended inequality and segregation for decades. Obama gave a wonderfully Russellian defense of Warren Thursday at a press conference. Americans, he said, need to “come together” even when they disagree on social issues. “That dialogue is part of what my campaign is all about,” he said. Russell would often use the same tactic to deflect criticism of his civil rights record. It was a distraction, Russell said, from the important business of the day uniting all Americans. Obama also said today that he is a “fierce advocate for equality” for gays, which is — given his opposition to equal marriage rights — simply a lie. It recalls the time Russell said, “I’m as interested in the Negro people of my state as anyone in the Senate. I love them.” [more]
It’s ok to be a bigot then … as long as you’re reasonable about it.
I’m not an American and I never did fall in love with Obama. Still, this is a bitter pill to swallow.
UPDATE: I just sent a message to the government in transition via change.gov. While exploring the site, I noticed this:
“(Obama’s speech on faith) may be the most important pronouncement by a Democrat on faith and politics since John F. Kennedy’s Houston speech in 1960 declaring his independence from the Vatican…Obama offers the first faith testimony I have heard from any politician that speaks honestly about the uncertainties of belief.”— E.J. Dionne, Op-Ed., Washington Post, June 30, 2006
In June of 2006, Senator Obama delivered what was called the most important speech on religion and politics in 40 years. Speaking before an evangelical audience, Senator Obama candidly discussed his own religious conversion and doubts, and the need for a deeper, more substantive discussion about the role of faith in American life.
Senator Obama also laid down principles for how to discuss faith in a pluralistic society, including the need for religious people to translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values during public debate. In December 2006, Senator Obama discussed the importance of faith in the global battle against AIDS. [here]
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