Gay rights leader rips Obama

Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese gets center page op-ed in today's WaPo.

Published December 19, 2008 2:27PM (EST)

Human Rights Campaign chief Joe Solmonese gets the center space of the Washington Post's op-ed page to vent his frustrations to Barack Obama about Rick Warren's invocation speech:

One of the biggest reasons for that hurtful outcome was the Rev. Rick Warren, who publicly endorsed Proposition 8 in late October. He told his parishioners and reporters alike that "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." But civil marriage rights for same-sex couples had nothing whatsoever to do with religion.

More recently, he even compared same-sex marriage to incest, pedophilia and polygamy. He may cloak himself in media-friendly happy talk that plays well on television, but he stands steadfastly against any measure of equality for LGBT Americans.

President-elect Obama must now, as my mother used to say, put some meat on the bone. We've seen appointment after appointment of talented Americans who come from constituencies that are part of this country and that helped gain his election. Well, we're one of those constituencies who actually worked and voted for Obama, unlike Warren and probably most of his 21,000 parishioners. Yet, we're the ones left waiting for some real evidence of inclusion.

So, are we angry about Rick Warren? You bet we are. And including a gay marching band in the inaugural festivities doesn't heal this wound. It only serves to make us question the promises that Barack Obama made in his historic quest to be president. We pray we weren't misled.

On the other coast, this Los Angeles Times' editorial takes a far different view:

Barack Obama's choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration understandably has angered some of the president-elect's supporters. But Obama was convincing Thursday in arguing that his invitation to the evangelical pastor, who opposes abortion and backed Proposition 8, didn't constitute an endorsement of Warren's views on gay marriage or any other issue.

History shows that the views of inauguration preachers aren't a reliable guide to the policies of the presidents on whom they invoke God's blessing. At John F. Kennedy's inauguration in 1961, the invocation was delivered by Cardinal Richard Cushing, the archbishop of Boston. But given Kennedy's pledge of strict separation of church and state during the campaign, it would have been foolish to assume that Cushing's participation signaled an endorsement by the Kennedy administration of "pro-Catholic" policies such as government aid to parochial schools.

By Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without the South." Follow him @schaller67.

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