Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren and the Invocation

This post is for Matty V, who asked where my outrage over Obama's invitation to have Pastor Rick Warren give the invocation at his inauguration.

I can honestly say that up until today, I really haven't had much outrage. I think Rick Warren is wrong about gay marriage and gay rights, but in the past I've given him the benefit of the doubt. If I went around protesting everyone that didn't agree with me on gay rights and gay marriage, I'd never get anything done (and let's not forget that I believe Obama himself is wrong on gay marriage). So, I was willing to not get up in arms about Rick Warren. From what I have seen of him, he's no James Dobson or Pat Robertson, and I had given him credit for that.

That is until this morning, when I cam across a post over at Box Turtle Bulletin. In an interview with Ann Curry, Warren answers a question about homosexuality possibly being biological and demonstrates both his ignorance on what he is requiring of gay people, and also what I see as a complete lack of respect for gay folks in general.

I'll start with the lack or respect part. I admit this claim is a bit harsh, but this interview is the second time that I've heard Rick Warren refer to his "gay friends" and then follow that up with a negative stereotype about gays. The first time, Warren was asked about gay marriage, and he said he was against gay marriage just like he was against incestuous marriage and pedophilia marriage (I may have just made that word up). When asked specifically if he thought those two types of marriages were equivalent to gay marriage, Pastor Warren said yes, and then proceeded to say he had gay friends and that no church as done more to help AIDS than his own. What? When did we start talking about AIDS?? Oh yeah, we were talking about gays, so AIDS would be the next logical step (and we can all pretend his church was helping AIDS in the gay population and ignore that the majority of his church's assistance went to AIDS sufferers in Africa).

So, the first time Warren was asked about gay marriage, he compared it to incest and pedophilia and then brought up his "gay friends" just to mention that he supports AIDS funding (in Africa). Now, the second time he talks about his "gay friends" he comes up with this doozey, "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.” He's 2 for 2 on this one--when he brings up his "gay friends," he only brings them up to reinforce negative stereotypes of gays, that they have AIDS and now that they are promiscuous." Note to self--do not be a "gay friend" to Rick Warren.

So, on to his ignorance about gay people and what he is calling for from them. The problem is that Warren's little example about promiscuity is off base, whether intentionally or not, he's sugar coating his "call" to gay people, and just like that judge on Top Chef, I can't help but spit this stuff out (worst reference ever; don't kill me). Warren claims that he's not promiscuous, so gays shouldn't be either. Ok, I'll give you that. Really, most people would. But what he doesn't mention (and this is a clever obfuscation), is that he gets to have a healthy outlet for his sexuality, but he doesn't offer one to gays. He's not asking gays not to be promiscuous. No, gays have to be celibate. He's comparing his own sexual fidelity to his wife to a call for celibacy for gays. That's not the same thing at all, no matter how you spin it (I wonder how he would take to a demand that he be celibate?). And, before someone goes in and says all single people have to be celibate, gay or straight--it's still not the same thing. He's asking gays to suppress all romantic feelings and activities completely, not just abstain from intercourse. We're talking about holding hands, cuddling, kissing, etc. Of course, his message sounds a lot more effective when it sounds like he's only asking gays to do what he asks of himself. It's not true or honest, but it's effective.

So that's that. I was giving Pastor Warren a pass. I'm not going to go around getting mad at everyone that isn't 100% gay positive. I'll disagree with them, and I'll think they're wrong, and if I know them I'll explain that to them, but I'm not going to boycott or even get mad about every instance of someone not agreeing with me. But Rick Warren has gone beyond that now. He's used an opportunity to make a conciliatory gesture to demean gays. Rather than offering a middle ground, he's throwing up stereotypes and ignorance. I can't support that.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jon Stewart on Gay Marriage

Jon Stewart on gay marriage:
"I think it’s a travesty that people have forced someone who is gay to have to ‘make their case’ that they deserve the same basic rights."
Jon Stewart had Mike Huckabee on his show as a guest last night, and a good portion of their conversation turned to gay marriage. Stewart made one of the most thoughtful and level headed arguments in favor of gay marriage (and against Huckabee's talking points) that I've seen in quite a while. The above quote was in response to Mike Huckabee claiming that "“[T]hose who support same-sex marriage have a lot of work to do to convince the rest of us.” Well said, Jon, well said.

I saw the segment live last night by some stroke of luck, but Pandagon has the entire interview. Watch it. You'll love Jon Stewart all over again (and who said he was weak on interviews?).

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I've been meaning to blog about this for a while, but I keep getting busy with other things. You know how it goes. Anyway, I went to see Milk last Thursday with some friends. If you haven't heard of the movie you really need to get out more, but it's a biopic about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to city government in the US, who was later assassinated.

The movie was great. Possibly one of the best movies I've ever seen. Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk, and he was amazing, especially considering what a stretch this character is from what he normally does. If you haven't seen Milk yet, plan to--it's well worth the time.

For me the movie was especially moving because of the timing with all of this Prop. 8 mess. Harvey Milk was one of the main players in the movement that defeated a proposed CA law that would ban gays from being teachers. It's truly amazing to see how similar the arguments against gay teachers were to the arguments today against Prop. 8, civil unions, employment protections, hate crimes laws, etc. It was equally amazing to see the passion the movement had back then. While some of my friends cried when Milk was assasinated, I had to hold back tears when I saw the protests form in the streets demanding change--it was that moving.

The religious right has been playing the "morality card" against the gays for a long time. The good news is that we're winning. As much as the anti-gay folks don't want to admit it, we are winning. We might have lost Prop. 8. It might be legal still to fire me for being gay in Texas, but if you compare where we are now to where we were then, you can see how far we've come. I'm glad this movie was able to remind me of that.