Barack Obama | Inauguration | Melissa Etheridge | News | Rick Warren

Rick Warren Defends Inauguration Invite, Engages Melissa Etheridge

Pastor Rick Warren defended his invitation to Obama's inauguration at the 8th Annual Convention of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Long Beach, California Saturday, according to the AP:

Warren"Under fire for opposing gay marriage, influential evangelical pastor Rick Warren said Saturday that he loves Muslims, people of other religions, Republicans and Democrats, and he also loves 'gays and straights.' The 54-year-old pastor and founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California told the crowd of 500 that it's unrealistic to expect everyone to agree on everything all the time. 'You don't have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand,' said Warren...Toward the end of his speech on Saturday, Warren also talked about singer Melissa Etheridge, who performed earlier in the evening. Warren said the two had a 'wonderful conversation' and that he is a huge fan who has all her albums. The openly lesbian gay rights activist even agreed to sign her Christmas album for him, he said."

More on that meeting from Juan Cole:

"I was told that Warren's friends among the MPAC Muslim community had urged him to call Melissa Etheridge Friday night in the run-up to their being (serially) on the same stage Saturday night, and that he did so and they talked for half an hour. During his address, Warren mentioned also seeing Etheridge backstage on Saturday. Local television in Los Angeles showed a short clip of Etheridge after the event asking gay leaders to reach out to Warren, just as they wanted him to reach out to them. This stance was big of her, since she and her partner had planned to marry but were prevented from doing so by the same Proposition 8 that Warren worked for, and she was so upset she suggested she would refuse to pay California taxes since she is obviously not considered a full citizen by her fellow Californians."

Meanwhile, Etheridge's partner Tammy Lynn Michaels, seems to have bought Warren's bullsh*t hook, line, and sinker.

RobinsonGay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, who advised Obama several times during his campaign, weighed in on the invitation to Rick Warren, and said that hearing about the selection was like was like "a slap in the face.":

"I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table, but we’re not talking about a discussion, we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know."

Richard Socarides, former special assistant to President Bill Clinton in charge of gay and lesbian policies, also spoke to the NYT:

"[The decision is a] serious miscalculation that will anger a lot of people and will be hard to undo. It’s not like he’s introducing Obama at some campaign rally in the South. He’s been given this very prominent, central role in the ceremony which is supposed to usher in a new civil rights era."

Also, doughnut campaign underway: "So one gay rights advocate is encouraging supporters of gay marriage to “return the favor” by sending Mr. Warren gift cards to Dunkin’ Donuts. The gift cards, which cost a minimum of $10, can be personalized with pictures of gay couples and supporters. The effort was conceived by Tom Leonard, an Internet marketing consultant in Burbank, Calif., who also created, which is working to place ads in support of gay marriage on cable networks in the wake of a new gay marriage ban in the state."

Melissa Etheridge made remarks after the MPAC event. Watch them, AFTER THE JUMP...

Katha Pollitt in L.A. Times: Rick Warren is an insulting choice.

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  1. Okay, I accepted a long time ago that I'm hopelessly dense. But isn't the crux of the problem with Warren is that he says we're basically wrong and disordered, and not just that he's against gay marriage? Compared to him likening me to a pedophile, I don't give a fiddler's fuck about his gay marriage position.

    Posted by: MikeMick | Dec 22, 2008 11:15:34 AM

  2. etheridge's behavior is disgusting. as usual, she gives the population at large the impression that the gay community is going to roll over and take it... again. after all the hell we've been through, to even suggest we should give this oaf a forum is unbelievable. and about the donut idea... great... yeah, give him even more money. idiots.

    Posted by: gagme | Dec 22, 2008 11:21:00 AM

  3. He says he loves the gays and wants us to all be friends and blah blah blah blah blah! Big f**kin' deal. We worked very hard to strip us our equal rights under the Constitution. Gays are not allowed to join his church unless they denounce their sinful lifestyle and try to pray the gay away. I don't give a rat's ass what this man says. It's about his actions!

    Posted by: Mike | Dec 22, 2008 11:22:53 AM

  4. Whups. Sorry. I meant to say "HE worked very hard to strip us of our equal rights..." Not "we". Typing while angry.

    Posted by: Mike | Dec 22, 2008 11:24:21 AM

  5. Why is it so hard to grasp the idea of: yes, we agree that reaching across the aisle respecting others' beliefs and ideas, and learning from one another is a good thing...A GREAT THING!!...we're all for it, BUT...there's a more fitting forum and place for that - not during the one of the most historic inaugurations in our history. The inauguration should be all inclusive and every should be able to celebrate it with respect. Rick Warren does not convey that to EVERYBODY.

    Posted by: ChrisDC | Dec 22, 2008 11:24:50 AM

  6. 1. (What MIKEMICK said.)

    2. When it comes to my equal humanity, there is no room for "agreeing to disagree". None whatsoever. We're either equal or we're not, and if you think we are not then that makes you a bigot. End of story.

    3. I don't give a rat's ass what Tammy Lynn What'shername says. And Etheridge's insights over the past couple years have been sophomoric at best.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Dec 22, 2008 11:26:11 AM

  7. I'm not sure that I would be taking any comfort in what Bill Clinton's LGBT advisers have to say on anything in this area. DADT sure worked out well...

    Posted by: Joe Moag | Dec 22, 2008 11:30:47 AM

  8. Ehteridge was on the View last week and make Hasselbeck look like an ass when it comes to the issue of same-sex marriage. Etheridge was on point and well spoken on the matter, period.

    I know it is not pleasing that she is saying/doing what she is saying vis-a-vis Warren at this time, but a little perspective on her would seem to be justified.

    Posted by: Joe Moag | Dec 22, 2008 11:34:11 AM

  9. Tammy Lynn Michael's blog post was horrendous. Worst of all was her assertion that Rick Warren can't be homophobic because he shows genuine love for gay people. If you didn't know already, love and prejudice can live side by side in great comfort.

    Think about this country 100 years ago, when the overwhelming majority of men in this country did not believe women should have the right to vote. Did these men hate or fear women? Perhaps some did, but many more deeply loved and respected the wives who they had built lives with, the daughters they had raised from infancy, and the mothers who had nurtured them. The idea that they dismissed or did not value the women in their lives would have provoked genuine denial and outrage. And yet, the idea that women should have the same role in government as men would have been rejected out of hand for the same reasons that gay marriage is today: it flies in the face of all human history. It contradicts the scriptural teaching of multiple religions. It will undermine the natural structure of the family.

    These men were not filled with hate or misogyny. In fact, they were filled with respect and admiration and love for the women who were their partners, nurturers, and allies in life. But in spite of those noble emotions, these men were still filled with prejudice so profound that it approached a state of innocence. They simply could not envision women as deserving of full participation in government because...well, because it was just so obviously wrong.

    When Rick Warren says that he loves homosexuals, that he respects them and values them, and that he is not motivated by hate, he's probably telling the truth. His actions are simply derived from a prejudice that exists in such pure state that there is little or no genuine malice. That makes him no less destructive or dangerous or harmful, and no less wrong.

    Posted by: Yeek | Dec 22, 2008 11:37:57 AM

  10. Is it just me or is Rick Warren also in the ad for Gay Bear Dating that is showing up as a vertical banner on the right side of Towleroad?

    Posted by: Bastian | Dec 22, 2008 11:44:00 AM

  11. tammy lynn michaels was on oprah basically saying that if we gay people could just be happy with civil unions all would be well because then the word "marriage" wouldn't upset the poor bigoted heteros. that household must have self-loathing homophobia in the water.

    Posted by: daisy | Dec 22, 2008 11:46:03 AM

  12. I'm confused. On the one hand, Saddleback sponsors a "pray away the gay" 12-step program. On the other hand, if we're to believe Tammy Lynn and the New York Times, Warren supports legal protections for gay couples so long as they're not called "marriage."

    Where exactly DOES Warren fall on the homophobometer? Is he Dobson in sheep's clothing, or truly another species?

    Posted by: Red Seven | Dec 22, 2008 11:46:31 AM

  13. And before everyone yells at me, I also think Rick Warren is a vile, loathsome sanctimonious windbag.

    Posted by: Yeek | Dec 22, 2008 11:47:15 AM

  14. I don't understand the doughnut coupons. People are asking us to send money/coupons to Warren so he doesn't have to spend it on food for his flock of homophobes and has more available to finance anti-gay initiatives? Am I missing something here?

    Posted by: kjk | Dec 22, 2008 11:53:05 AM

  15. I agree that he is missing the point - I am less concerned with his being against gay marriage (as most ministers, etc. are) and more concerned with his comparisons regarding the similarity between gay relationships and those of pedophiles and practioners of incest.
    I'm also getting tired of all these gay musicians filling in as the voice and face of gay America. Elton John, Rufus W, even Melissa are all admirable artist but are obviously biased in the protection of their own musical careers. And god knows they have all made more than their share of ridiculous comments over the last few years.

    Posted by: Daryl | Dec 22, 2008 11:53:07 AM

  16. I think that inherently what has people so pissed (myself included) is that over the past 8 years we, GLBT Americans, have seen our rights, our humanity, our personal beings used by the Right Wingnuts, the GOP, as fodder in the electoral process. By the use of voter initiatives across so many states and to have struggled and worked so hard to mobilize both straight and GLBT voters to support OBAMA and to now have him shove someone like RW under our noses and into the spotlight of this historic event is truly an insult and says to us "you still do not matter'!!!

    Posted by: Alex in Boston | Dec 22, 2008 11:54:39 AM

  17. The position Warren's church takes on homosexuals as members shows him to be just as bigoted as if he were living in a gated and covenanted whites-only community; there's no difference between "loving" homosexuals but excluding them and "loving" black people but excluding them -- both states are based on inborn and unalterable conditions. Reaching across the aisle only works if both parties are willing to compromise, and we have seen from Warren's sermons and writings that he is not willing. If he lived in a restricted community, Obama would not have invited him to give the invocation.

    Posted by: Calpete | Dec 22, 2008 11:55:53 AM

  18. @JoeMoag: Point taken... I don't watch the View, and I rather think that putting a mental midget like Hasselbeck in her place won't really pad Etheridge's resume that much... but point taken. My experience watching Etheridge speak in previous attempts to represent the GLBT communities has been one of genuine nausea, so I'm glad that she had a good day. Since for some reason she is often asked to represent causes that I fervently support, I hope it's a sign of genuine progress and improvement.

    And YEEK: Lovely post. You, I like.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Dec 22, 2008 11:59:23 AM

  19. I wish Ms Etheridge and her would-be spouse lots of happiness together. But clearly these women are not deep thinkers, or at least are not thinking clearly in this instance. Evangelists are charismatic, and I'm sure that they can be charming in person. Ms Etheridge and partner seem to believe that Warren's being nice to their faces makes up for the fact he was instrumental in taking away their right to get married. Well, nobody said that being an artist makes you very astute.

    Posted by: oliver | Dec 22, 2008 12:05:53 PM

  20. Gene Robinson's comments disturbed me the most on this...for him to say it was a "slap in the face" I think pretty much sums it up for everybody. Obama is stuck now, he can't withdraw the invite without looking like more of a moron. What on earth was he thinking... his campaign never made a move without analysing the impact ad infinitum... and I guess this is their attempt at inclusion; but for pity sake, what a major blunder.

    Posted by: Mike | Dec 22, 2008 12:21:07 PM

  21. My gut said that the outrage expressed about Warren would cause him to engage on gay issues. It's starting to happen and now we, Andy included, is saying that Etheridge bought his crap, etc.

    All, please explain to me how we get people on board with gay equality if we don't ENGAGE with people that do not agree with us? Rick Warren is moderate for an evangelical and while that isn't saying much, is it POSSIBLE that this could be the beginning of altering his stance on gay marriage? If he's already an enemy, what harm is there in Etheridge or anyone else using this as a teaching moment for him.

    If Etheridge had basically screamed at Warren and been rude, would that have really helped things? Or, would it have simply alienated Warren and made things worse.

    Many of you saw the film Milk. Didn't Milk actively engaged with those that opposed him? Look, I wish we could just ignore the Warren's. We cannot. We don't have the strength of numbers on our side--yet. Until that happens, we cannot dismiss him. We have to engage with him and people like him to try to change them. It won't happen overnight and it may not happen at all, but we MUST try.

    Additionally, it is EXTREMELY problematical to cite Bishop Robinson in this discussion. Robinson's thinks Warren is a "slap in the face." Ok. How many other members of Robinson's faith have called his ordination a slap in the face, or worse. Robinson also says that the G_d he knows isn't the one Warren knows. Ok, so now we're down to a debate as to what g_d knows? Isn't that partly how we got into this mess in the first place? Warren and Robinson disagree on g_d's opinion. I don't want to have a debate about g_d's opinion.

    My argument about gay equality is that the state, with few exceptions, should not be in the business of telling adults how they should order their lives or playing favorites among and between its citizens. That has nothing to do with someone's belief in g_d.

    Posted by: Brandon | Dec 22, 2008 12:33:04 PM

  22. @ The Milkman and @ Oliver


    I know. Am I the only person who thinks this woman and her girlfriend are not very bright?? Heh, I've never see such a poor representation!!

    But of course they use her cause she's as intelligent as a newt and will pose abosolutely no harm whatsoever to the Warrens, or the View people etc.

    Lol Warren, I'm sure you could've picked other gays to talk to about how you are just not that homophobic??


    Posted by: Rowan | Dec 22, 2008 12:38:21 PM

  23. One reptile for another:

    A drunk half-man half-alligator crashed Rick Warren's press conference, showed support using vulgar language and controlled flatulence.

    Posted by: jpm | Dec 22, 2008 12:44:00 PM

  24. Take me, now, Lord! Just take me now!

    JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! We're not seeing "Stonewall 2.0"—it's Stepin' Fetchit 2.0.

    "Yeh Massa I knows you luvs Stepin I knows ya does but Massa could ya jus stop beatin on old Stepin so hard? Look at this pretty pitcher Stepin done brought you of all those others like Stepin. I knows if ya jus look y'all stop hatin em so much. And jes lissen to all the pretty things Miss Melissy Ann and Miss Tammy Sue done said about yous Massa. Don't that warm Massa don't hit Stepin no more please Massa stop stop Massa"


    Who needs enemas like Rick Warren and Barack "Gays Are Issues" Obama when we have ourselves?

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Dec 22, 2008 12:44:36 PM

  25. "We have to engage with him and people like him to try to change them. It won't happen overnight and it may not happen at all, but we MUST try."

    Brandon, I'm 46 years old. I, along with all other gay people, have been treated like a third-class citizen all of my life by "people like him." I don't know what world you live in, but in our world, engaging these people has done NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHING. They never evolve. NEVER. They do not deserve to be engaged by us any longer. I am tired and done with that failed route.

    Posted by: Oscar | Dec 22, 2008 12:52:38 PM

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