The Obama/Warren Complex, Part I

The Obama/Warren Complex, Part I

In two separate posts I will discuss Obama's choice to invite minister Rick Warren to speak at the inauguration. Already Obama has angered some liberals for selecting Rick Warren to speak at the inauguration festivities.  Actually, he already has irritated some of his supporters by appointing intelligent thoughtful people to his cabinet instead of party hacks.  Keeping Robert Gates really irked some of the more extreme members of the Democratic party, who view him simply as a retainer from a poisoned administration and not a guy whoâ??s just as willing to admit when things are going right as when things are going wrong.  Obama's promise to change Washington D.C. by including all voices was echoed by all of his supporters, but when he began to do just that, well, people began to jump ship. I think the first thing you, dear reader, should do is read a post written by Melissa Etheridge concerning Obama’s choice to pick Rick Warran to speak at the inauguration.  She supports Obama’s decision and speaks very highly of Rick Warren.  The next thing you need to do is look at the headlines concerning the President-Elect’s pick at The Huffington Post.  You can read them all if you want, but after skimming the headlines, I don’t think you’ll need to read more than one or two.  You’d think he had asked Pat Robertson or James Dobson.  One post calls Obama a bigot, which is rather interesting given the fact that he’s made his own views on the issue completely clear, and almost all of them call Warren a bigot.  There are a few posts that defend Obama’s pick, but most of them condemn his choice and say that Warren is a gay-bashing hater, more or less. Well, it is understandable why so many gay rights activists and liberals are upset by Obamaâ??s pick, or to be more specific, are upset by Rick Warren in general.  While no one could say that heâ??s not a humanitarian, he certainly is a social conservative.  He told Etheridge that he had a difficult time supporting Proposition 8 in California, but decided to do so because, while he thinks that everyone deserves the same civil rights as everyone else, he also believes that the institution of marriage exists between men and women, and not between members of the same sex.  Many people in the gay and lesbian community view this as a tacit approval of discrimination.  They see marriage as a civil right, while Warren does not.  The underlying implication is that people who disapprove of a particular practice disapprove of the people who participate in that practice as well. Conservatives have taken a different approach.  As I stated, Warren and those who support Proposition 8 do not think of marriage in terms of civil rights.  In fact, a CNN exit poll shows that African-Americans favored Proposition 8 by 70%, and Latinos by 53%.  While many people have taken this as an opportunity to argue that black people are homophobes (because apparently you can tell what all black people think about homosexuality by looking at a poll concerning gay marriage, and not homosexuality specifically), what you can infer from the poll is that some of the people most concerned with civil rights donâ??t view this as a civil rights issue.  Conservatives (for the most part) see the institution of marriage as a privilege granted by the state that can, and should, be regulated, similar to the way in which driverâ??s licenses are regulated. There are those in the middle, this author included, who believe that the United States government oversteps its bounds when it involves itself in the institution of marriage.  In fact, it was only a few hundred years ago that European governments began to take a roll in marriage.  The governmentâ??s only interest should be that only two individuals register as a union and that they are both of legal age to do so.  After that, all things should be left up to whatever church the person or persons seeking marriage attend to qualify or not to qualify the relationship as a marriage. The argument that we would be â??changingâ? the definition of marriage if we were to allow homosexuals and lesbians to marry is compelling, but misguided.  Marriage has gone through hundreds of changes throughout history, from polygamy (which still exists today) to monogamy, from arranged marriages to free marriages, from marrying young women to old men to making it illegal for people considered to be adults to make sexual advances on a minor.  To say that codifying marriage as between one man and one woman will prevent it from ever changing is absurd. I have a hard time saying that marriage is a civil right in the same way that blacks have the same rights as individuals as whites, or Latinos, or Koreans, or Mongolians, or whatever.  I think that everyone has the â??rightâ? to marry who they love, but the institution of marriage is just that, an institution.  If your church doesnâ??t allow homosexuals to marry, I suggest finding another church.  And if your government tells you that it has the right to decide the fates of social codes that that government has no practical interest in, I suggest you tell your government to back off and remember its place.  The right to seek marriage is a fundamental right.  Whether or not you can get married should be up to your particular denomination or faith, and not the United States government. So where does this leave us in terms of the issue facing Obama and one of his decision to ask Warren to speak at the inauguration?  Weâ??ve identified what some of the prevailing viewpoints concerning homosexual, or â??gay,â? marriage are, but does that get us any closer to deciding whether what Obama did was to be interpreted as bigoted or as an endorsement of Warrenâ??s more controversial views?  In part two of this post Iâ??ll discuss what I think we should make of this Obama/Warren complex.  And Iâ??ll look at some of the outlying problems that this issue drags into the light.