iOS app Android app More

Leah McElrath Renna

Leah McElrath Renna

Posted: December 18, 2008 02:29 PM

Dear Obama: Here's Why You are Wrong on Warren


With all due respect, President-Elect Obama, your response to lesbian and gay Americans that "it is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues" completely misses the point of our objection to your selection of Rick Warren to deliver the Invocation at the Inauguration.

At best, your response is an example of inept and cynical messaging and your communications staff should be taken to task. At worst, your response shows a lack of true understanding of what it means to be a lesbian or gay American.

Our spiritual integrity is NOT a "social issue" - it is part of our very humanity, as are our sexual orientation, our capacity to love and form relationships, and our desire to create and protect our families.

The strong emotional response of the lesbian and gay community to the selection of Rick Warren is not just about a disagreement on policy. Rick Warren's views on policy are a reflection of his core beliefs about millions of lesbian and gay American citizens.

"Shared values and ideals"? The reality is that Warren does not recognize lesbian and gay people as being spiritually whole. He does not "value" us as beloved children of God exactly as we are. His "ideals" include a world in which lesbian and gay people are enrolled in programs to de-gay them, to cure them of what he believes to be a behavioral disorder or manifestation of sinful sexual activities.

The Presidential Inauguration is - by definition - a symbolic event. That's its entire purpose.

What it is NOT is a policy roundtable. No one disputes your right to seek a variety of viewpoints about policy concerns.

The point is that - with an entire world of spiritual leaders chomping at the bit to participate in this Inauguration - there is simply no valid reason that you could not have chosen someone to perform the Invocation who actually recognizes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as whole and perfect children of God exactly how they are.

What impact do you think this choice will have on the millions of LGBT people of faith in this country to see this man who equates our relationships with the abuses and perversions of incest and pedophilia being put forth as a spiritual representative for the nation as a whole? What impact do you imagine this will have on LGBT people of faith who have been damaged by being forced into so-called "ex-gay ministries" - which Warren supports?

And, as importantly, what "advocacy" on our behalf are you demonstrating by choosing a speaker who does not see our rights as being civil rights because he doesn't see our sexual orientations as being an integrated and authentic aspect of our entire selves?

I, like you, had a grandmother who had a profound influence on my life. One thing my grandmother always told me was, "If the mouth is talking and the feet are moving, watch the feet." Perhaps your grandmother conveyed similar wisdom to you.

President-Elect Obama, you are wrong on this choice. It is not inclusive. It is not a reflection of our shared ideals and values as Americans.

We've had eight years of a President whose character flaws included the inability to admit his mistakes. Show us true change and reconsider your selection of Rick Warren.