Tammy Baldwin, Take Your Name Off that List
This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.
December 22nd, 2008
CBS News is reporting that lesbian legislator Tammy Baldwin is an Honorary Inaugural Co-Chair:
The Presidential Inaugural Committee has released a list of the honorary co-chairs for Barack Obama’s inauguration. The group includes former Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter; Senators Dick Durbin, Dick Lugar and Claire McCaskill; and well known figures such as General Colin Powell, who endorsed Obama, and the president-elect’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng.
Also on the list is openly gay Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin.
The message given to gay and lesbian youth by the selection of Rick Warren for the Inaugural Invocation is that the administration sees no harm in comparing same-sex couples to incestuous polygamous pedophiles. Any gay or lesbian that truly cares about this message cannot in good conscience endorse the actions of the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
And the press will not be slow to see Baldwin’s inclusion as an endorsement of Warren and as a buffer to criticism against the President-Elect.
Clearly this is but another token of valueless “inclusion” like the marching band. Gays can have a silent and distant honorary place at the table, but the head seat goes to the guy who will “not tolerate” us and thinks we have no human rights and writes tributes to those who seek to imprison us.
Barney Frank has already taken a stand. Now it’s time for Tammy Baldwin to show whether she truly cares about the community. It’s time that she decide, is she on the side of that tomboy in Wisconsin who is being told that she’s an abomination, or does she want to be part of the Obama Nation? Does she want to protect the vulnerable, or does she want to win points with the powerful?
Tammy Baldwin, if you have any decency, take your name off that list.
10 East Doty Street, Suite 405
Madison, Wisconsin 53703
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Washington DC 20515
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Time Magazine’s Cloud Calls Obama a Bigot
December 21st, 2008
John Cloud, writing in Time Magazine, pulled no punches in his response to President-Elect Obama’s selection of Rick Warren as the minister for his Inaugural Invocation:
Gays and lesbians are angry that Barack Obama has honored Warren, but they shouldn’t be surprised. Obama has proved 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 nonpedophilic, 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, one that featured appearances by Donnie McClurkin, a Christian entertainer who preaches that homosexuals can become heterosexuals.
I’m not willing to go as far as Cloud and call Mr. Obama a bigot. He has established a comprehensive list of goals that would go a very long way towards eliminating institutionalized discrimination against the LGBT community and it is far too early to dismiss this agenda as insincere.
But I do think that the President-Elect is now demonstrating a pattern of response to the gay community which suggests that he does not see our expressions of concern and dismay in the same light as he might those of other subgroups of the American population.
I find it unconscionable that any religious leader would say that a “brother and sister [being] together” and “an older guy marrying a child” are “equivalent to gays getting married”. And I find it perplexing that Barack Obama does not.
Rick Warren’s “Moderation”
December 20th, 2008
It’s official, Saddleback Church bans all people “unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle” from church membership. Also, Jews are going to hell. This is the guy Obama wants to pray on behalf of all Americans.
Gay Leader Boycotts the Inauguration
December 19th, 2008
Geoff Kors, the Executive Director of Equality California, had decided that he cannot attend an event that will feature a religious leader that has, in recent weeks, been spouting homophobic rants.
Here’s the email he has sent out:
It is extremely disappointing and hurtful that President-elect Obama has chosen California Rev. Rick Warren, who actively supported Prop 8 and the elimination of existing civil rights for LGBT Californians, to give the invocation at his inauguration.
Accordingly, I have decided to decline the invitation to attend the inauguration as I cannot be part of a celebration that highlights and gives voice to someone who advocated repealing rights from me and millions of other Californians.
I was looking forward to hearing a speech by the new President about his vision of a new America and an end to the politics of division where one group is pitted against another.
Rick Warren does not share that vision. Far from it. Instead, he actively works to divide Americans based on who we are and has been an ardent supporter of efforts to ostracize LGBT Americans. He compared “gay marriage to incest, pedophilia and polygamy and repeated the inaccurate charge that without Prop 8, conservative preachers could be prosecuted for hate crimes. He described ‘social gospel’ Christians of the 20th century as closet Marxists.”
It would be impossible for me to attend the inauguration where a person who has worked to deny my and Equality California members’ equality is setting the tone.
I commend Kors for the courage of his conviction.
LaBarbera Award: Rick Warren
December 19th, 2008
Here’s more of that interview with Ann Curry we talked about yesterday. This time, Curry asks Rick Warren, “What if homosexuality is biological?”
Rick Warren: If it’s biological, I’d be glad to know. We all have biological predispositions. Some people struggle with anger, and some people say, “I don’t struggle with anger, but I sure struggle with fear.” And some people say, “Well, I don’t struggle with this, I struggle with being shy.”
Ann Curry: You’re saying if it’s part of your biology it’s your job to struggle against it if in fact, it’s the wrong thing.
Rick Warren: Here’s what I’m saying. I’ve had many gay friends tell me, “Well Rick, why shouldn’t I have multiple sexual partners? It’s the natural thing to do.” Well, just because it seems natural, doesn’t mean its best for you or society. I’m naturally inclined to have sex with every beautiful woman I see. But it doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do. And why should I rein in my natural impulses. And you say well I have natural impulses toward the same sex, I shouldn’t have to rein them in. Well I disagree. I think that’s part of maturity. I think it’s part of delayed gratification. I think it’s part of character.
Actually, Rick Warren is only reining in his promiscuous urges, not his heterosexual ones. At least I presume so, since he’s married. What he says here is that being gay is indistinguishable from being promiscuous. But what about non-promiscuous gay people? Unlike the standard he set for himself, he expects them to be completely celibate.
Since Warren isn’t celibate, why is he mature and monogamous gay people aren’t? Why don’t his “many gay friends” — and yes, he brings those phantom friends back into the conversation again — delay gratification and demonstrate character, even if they’re not promiscuous?
So, to add to gay relationships being no different from child rape, incest, and polygamy, we can now add promiscuous, immature, and lacking in character. Will the fun never end?
Rick Warren Congratulates Himself On His “Model of Civility”
December 18th, 2008
Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren has issued this statement on President-elect Barack Obama’s choosing him to give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration:
I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.
Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America. …
Warren’s model of civility includes describing his “many gay friends” as being in relationships which are morally equivalent to child rape, incest, and polygamy, as well as his bald-faced lies about what Prop 8 will do to free speech. Yes, I’m sounding like a broken record, but I’ll keep saying that because that’s the whole point.
The mainstream media is saying that the outrage over picking Warren stems from his support for Prop 8. That may explain some of the opposition to him, but it doesn’t explain the near-unanimous and vociferous outrage that is being expressed in the LGBT community. The fuel for the explosive reaction comes from a much deeper source.
It is indeed possible to support Prop 8 civilly. But Warren did not do that. Instead, he not only lied about what it would do, but he further insulted his “many gay friends” — and the rest of us — when he described their relationships as being on par with the lowest form of criminals. Even the most vile criminals — convicted rapists of old ladies, serial killers of defenseless orphans, and baby torturers — they all look down on child molesters, and they don’t think twice about killing them in the most sadistic way. But Warren thinks that the deeply held relationships among his “many gay friends” are no better than child rape. Or incest. Or polygamy.
That is the outrage. Maybe some day Rick Warren will see the need to apologize deeply for that offense. But it won’t happen until everyone — including the mainstream media — calls him on it. It’s not just about Prop 8. It goes much, much deeper, to that “model of civility” that Warren lacks.
Barney Frank on Warren Pick
December 18th, 2008
Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) just sent out this statement on Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to offer the Inaugural invocation:
I am very disappointed by President-elect Barack Obama’s decision to honor Reverend Rick Warren with a prominent role in his inauguration. Religious leaders obviously have every right to speak out in opposition to anti-discrimination measures, even in the degrading terms that Rev. Warren has used with regard to same-sex marriage. But that does not confer upon them the right to a place of honor in the inauguration ceremony of a president whose stated commitment to LGBT rights won him the strong support of the great majority of those who support that cause.
It is irrelevant that Rev. Warren invited Senator Obama to address his congregation, since he extended an equal invitation to Senator McCain. Furthermore, the President-Elect has not simply invited Rev. Warren to give a speech as part of a series in which various views are presented. The selection of a member of the clergy to occupy this uniquely elevated position has always been considered a mark of respect and approval by those who are being inaugurated.
How the Inauguration Team Views “LGBT Interests”
December 18th, 2008
The Inaugural Committee has sent out talking points on why selecting Rick Warren’s and his message equating gays to pedophiles for the Inaugural Invocation is “inclusive”. They concluded with what they must think is their stongest point:
And for the very first time, there will be a group representing the interests of LGBT Americans participating in the Inaugural Parade.
Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod, how exciting. I’ll have a representative there at the inauguration representing my interests.
Oh my goodness, who could it be? Perhaps a gay politician, or the leader of a gay rights group, or even someone who has stepped up to speak out against institutionalized inequality in the wake of Proposition 8?
Nope. My representatives to the President-Elect are these guys:
Yes, the representation that gay people will have at the inauguration will be a gay marching band included among the couple dozen bands that will march down Pennsylvania Avenue after the swearing in ceremony.
Well, that’s doesn’t sound very effective. But perhaps they are stellar representatives of my “interests”. So let’s take a look at the goals of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association:
LGBA remains dedicated to its original goals of providing a network of lesbian and gay bands at all stages of development, promoting music as a medium of communication among people, improving the quality of artistic and organizational aspects of member bands, and stimulating public interest in the unique art form of community band music in our culture.
Don’t get me wrong. I love marching bands. And I think it’s wonderful that amoung the dozens of bands participating will be one whose members are recruited from the gay community.
But frankly, I find it offensive that the Inaugural Committee is so incredibly condescending as to think that this group will be “representing the interests of LGBT Americans” just because they happen to be gay.
If this is any indication of the inclusion that gay people will have in the Obama Administration, we can look forward to (at least) four years of patronizing and dismissive gestures. We should all sit up and be thankful that we can march in the band. And maybe if we’re really appreciative maybe we can also do Michelle’s hair and make-up.
That isn’t inclusion. That’s a slap in the face.
I am hoping that this is an aberration, that the Obama administration will be dedicated not only to the reversal of discriminatory policy but also to the inclusion of gay men and women at all levels of government, selected for their abilities to contribute to their nation. But I do not consider the appointments to date or the administration’s response to the Rick Warren controversy to be promising.
Rick Warren Laughs
December 18th, 2008
So he’s not just homophobic, he’s arrogantly dismissive as well:
So, he said we’re no better than the lowest criminals — even serial-killing and elderly-raping felons think child molesters are the lowest of the low — and then he laughs when we call him on it.
By the way, he’s not homophobic beause he now has “a hundred gay friends.” Would just one of those gay friends please contact me?
Obama Responds To Criticisms Over Warren Pick
December 18th, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama responded this morning to the controversy over his selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation during Obama’s inauguration:
I am fierce advocate for equality for gay and — well, let me start by talking about my own views. I think it is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something I have been consistent on and something I intend to continue to be consistent on during my presidency.
What I’ve also said is that it is important for America to come together even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues.
And I would note that a couple of years ago I was invited to Rick Warren’s church to speak, despite his awareness that I held views entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion.
Nevertheless, I had an opportunity to speak, and that dialogue, I think, is a part of what my campaign’s been all about, that we’re never going to agree on every single issue. What we have to do is create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable, and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans. So Rick Warren has been invited to speak, Dr. Joseph Lowery — who has deeply contrasting views to Rick Warren about a whole host of issues — is also speaking.
“Balancing” an anti-Semite with a Rabbi would clearly be outrageous, as would balancing a segregationist with someone who supports racial equality. No one would even begin to consider such an outlandish idea. I’m glad Dr. Lowery will be giving the benediction, at the end when everyone will already be leaving to escape the cold January weather. But this is not balance.
Obama is trying to bring differing sides together. I get that, and it’s an admirable and necessary task. But if Obama’s looking for someone who can disagree without being disagreeable, Warren’s clearly not the guy. If Warren had labeled Barack’s marriage to Michelle as morally indistinguishable from child rape, incest or polygamy, would Obama see fit to invite such a disagreeable figure to America’s celebration? Or is it just us that it’s acceptable to be disagreeable with?
Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?
December 18th, 2008
Rick Warren claims he’s not a homophobe because he has “many gay friends” and has “eaten dinner in gay homes.” And yet, he still believes that his friends’ relationships are no different morally from child rape, incest or polygamy.
I wonder. How many child rapists, polygamists or incestist (to coin a word) has Warren broken bread with?
Debate Over Rick Warren Continues
December 18th, 2008
Hillary Rosen appeared on Anderson Copper’s AC360 on CNN to talk about Obama’s selection of Rick Warren, where she called this selection an “outrageous mistake.” She’s clearly angry about this choice. Good for her.
Outrage over Warren’s recent comments in which he equated the relationships of his “many gay friends” to child rape, incest and polygamy were just reaching its peak when the Obama team made the announcement. The inaugural committee has already issued their talking points. They go like this:
- This will be the most open, accessible, and inclusive Inauguration in American history.
- In keeping with the spirit of unity and common purpose this Inauguration will reflect, the President-elect and Vice President-elect have chosen some of the world’s most gifted artists and people with broad appeal to participate in the inaugural ceremonies.
- Pastor Rick Warren has a long history of activism on behalf of the disadvantaged and the downtrodden. He’s devoted his life to performing good works for the poor and leads the evangelical movement in addressing the global HIV/AIDS crisis. In fact, the President-elect recently addressed Rick Warren’s Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health to salute Warren’s leadership in the struggle against HIV/AIDS and pledge his support to the effort in the years ahead.
- The President-elect disagrees with Pastor Warren on issues that affect the LGBT community. They disagree on other issues as well. But what’s important is that they agree on many issues vital to the pursuit of social justice, including poverty relief and moving toward a sustainable planet; and they share a commitment to renewing America’s promise by expanding opportunity at home and restoring our moral leadership abroad.
- As he’s said again and again, the President-elect is committed to bringing together all sides of the faith discussion in search of common ground. That’s the only way we’ll be able to unite this country with the resolve and common purpose necessary to solve the challenges we face.
- The Inauguration will also involve Reverend Joseph Lowery, who will be delivering the official benediction at the Inauguration. Reverend Lowery is a giant of the civil rights movement who boasts a proudly progressive record on LGBT issues. He has been a leader in the struggle for civil rights for all Americans, gay or straight.
- And for the very first time, there will be a group representing the interests of LGBT Americans participating in the Inaugural Parade.
There are a number of pastors who can disagree without being disagreeable. Pastor Warren just doesn’t fit the bill. I cannot allow my relationship to be considered “equivalent” — his assented characterization — to child rape or incest. A man who hold such profound animosity with his fellow Americans to say such a thing has no place in this celebration.
Rev. Joseph Lowery is an excellent choice to deliver the benediction, but that doesn’t excuse Warren’s selection for the invocation. “Balance” isn’t achieved, for example, by having a segregationist and a civil rights worker, or an anti-Semite with a Rabbi. There would be no justification to have a segregationist or an anti-Semite as part of the program to begin with. Nor is there any for having Warren at the podium as well.
But hey, thanks for including a band in the parade.
HRC and PFAW Respond To Rick Warren’s Selection For Inaugural Invocation
December 17th, 2008
The Human Rights Campaign sent this open letter to President-Elect Barack Obama:
Rev. Warren cannot name a single theological issue that he and vehemently, anti-gay theologian James Dobson disagree on. Rev. Warren is not a moderate pastor who is trying to bring all sides together. Instead, Rev. Warren has often played the role of general in the cultural war waged against LGBT Americans, many of whom also share a strong tradition of religion and faith.
We have been moved by your calls to religious leaders to own up to the homophobia and racism that has stood in the way of combating HIV and AIDS in this country. And that you have publicly called on religious leaders to open their hearts to their LGBT family members, neighbors and friends.
But in this case, we 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. Only when Rev. Warren and others support basic legislative protections for LGBT Americans can we believe their claim that they are not four-square against our rights and dignity. In that light, we urge you to reconsider this announcement.
People for the American Way also denounced the selection:
…[T]he sad truth is that this decision further elevates someone who has in recent weeks actively promoted legalized discrimination and denigrated the lives and relationships of millions of Americans.
Rick Warren gets plenty of attention through his books and media appearances. He doesn’t need or deserve this position of honor. There is no shortage of religious leaders who reflect the values on which President-elect Obama campaigned and who are working to advance the common good.
Rick Warren To Deliver Invocation at Inauguration
December 17th, 2008
The New York Times’ Katharine Seelye is reporting that Rick Warren, the pastor at Saddleback Church, has been chosen by President-elect Barack Obama to deliver the invocation at the inaugural ceremony.
This is the same Rick Warren who recently said that the relationships of his “many gay friends” are no different from child rape, incest or polygamy. He also jumped on the paranoia bandwagon surrounding same-sex marriage by falsely claiming that Prop 8’s failure somehow would have overturned the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and religion. (It can’t. No law or state constitution can.).
Warren himself has acknowledged that the only difference between himself and Focus On the Family’s James Dobson is just “a matter of tone.” So given President-elect Obama’s stated commitment to bringing the country together, it’s hard to fathom the reasoning behind choosing such a divisive figure. What’s worse, this decision to include Warren revives memories of the controversy surrounding ex-gay advocate Donnie McClurkin’s partication in an Obama campaign event in South Carolina during the primaries. This announcement will certainly be taken as another punch in the gut.
More details and reactions to follow, I’m sure. You can count on it.
Update: Are you looking for someone to email to express your outrage? Well, a well-placed source just provided these email addresses:
- email@example.com (Parag Mehta is Obama’s LGBT liaison in the transition team.)
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Hildebrand)
You can also contact Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office. She chaired the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and made the announcement.
Update: People for the American Way respond.
Rick Warren Exploits Paranoia To Defend Prop 8
December 16th, 2008
…There were all kinds of threats that if that [Prop 8] did not pass, then any pastor could be considered doing hate speech if he shared his views that he didn’t think homosexuality was the most natural way for relationships. And that would be hate speech. To me, we should have freedom of speech. And you should be able to have freedom of speech to make your position, and I should be able to have freedom of speech to make my position. And can we do this in a civil way?
This is unadulterated nonsense. First, a civil marriage law does nothing to impinge on what a pastor can preach. Divorce is very common, but you can waive all the divorce decrees and new marriage licences in front of a Catholic priest’s face and he’s not going to marry anyone unless the Vatican has granted an annulment. And he’ll be happy to explain it to the couple in his office, at the pulpit, on the Internet, or anywhere else. It’s not hate speech.
And what if it were considered hate speech? No problem there either because in the United States, hate speech is not against the law. And it can never be against the law as long as the First Amendment is in effect. We already have laws against discrimination based on race and religion, but even with those laws, Rick Warren can be as anti-Semitic and racist as he wants to be. He’s neither of those things, but if he wanted to be, he could. And the law would protect him.
I suspect Rev. Warren knows that. But he’d rather stoke the paranoia of his fellow evangelicals than actually discuss the issue “in a civil way.”