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Leah McElrath Headshot

Rick Warren, Obama? Really?!?!

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Progressive groups are decrying the choice of Rick Warren to deliver the Invocation at the Presidential Inauguration as "disappointing" -- but it is far more than that. It is an act of spiritual violence against lesbian and gay American citizens and a profound betrayal of the philosophy of inclusion and unity espoused by President-elect Obama.

"The Presidential Inaugural Committee, at the direction of President-elect Obama...will organize an inclusive and accessible inauguration that...unites the nation around our shared values and ideals."

Shared values and ideals? Let's let Rick Warren speak for himself.

Here's Rick Warren equating marriage equality for same-sex couples with incest and pedophilia:

"The issue to me, I'm not opposed to that as much as I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage."

Of course, the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage that Warren refers to in the first part of this quote were essentially property contracts that did involve "one guy having multiple wives" - but that's beside the point of this piece.

Here's Rick Warren going even further and using the statistical lack of support by black Californian's for marriage equality to justify his opinion that the rights of lesbian and gay citizens do not constitute civil rights:

"...this debate is not really about civil rights, but a desire for approval. The fact that 70% of blacks supported Prop 8 shows they don't believe it is a civil rights issue. Gays in California already have their rights."

The California Supreme Court saw the situation differently, but, in Warren's view, the definition of the civil rights of minorities is open to definition by majority public opinion.

Here's Rick Warren talking - in 2004 - about how HIV/AIDS was not an issue of concern for him until recently:

"Two years ago HIV/AIDS was not on my agenda; it was not even a blip on my radar." [emphasis added]

The deaths of more than 500,000 American citizens -- the vast majority of whom were men who had sex with men -- simply didn't register on Warren's radar over the course of more than two decades. The disease finally and rightly became a cause of concern for Warren and the Christians to whom he speaks when his wife brought to his attention the plight of children in Africa orphaned by the pandemic.

Same-sex relationships equal incestuous and pedophiliac abuses. Equal protection under the law for lesbian and gay American citizens isn't the same thing as civil rights. The lives and deaths of gay men less important than those of children or orphans.

The sad reality is that American gay men and lesbians have heard it all before.

But we didn't expect to have such values and ideals validated by this President-elect at this Inauguration.

Warren's stated beliefs make it clear that -- when he invokes God at the Inauguration -- it is not the inclusive and all-loving God who is recognized and worshiped by lesbian and gay men of faith in this country. With an entire world of spiritual leaders at his beck and call for this historic event, Obama can and should do better. The message for American gay men and lesbians in the choice of Rick Warren is that -- once again -- "everyone" means everyone but us.

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