POLITICAL observations & opinions

* gay marriage, Rick Warren and tolerance

Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 23, 2008

Peter Wehner writes in Commentary (12-23-08) …

  • Barney Frank is deeply offended by Rick Warren, and he wants to the world to know it.
  • What has Frank and other gay rights advocates riled up is that Warren backed a California ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage (the measure was approved by voters last month). 
    • In the course of defending his stand, Warren has made the point that there are lots of arrangements one could envision consenting adults wanting–from polygamy to incest–that we would not want to label “marriage.”
  • Now ask advocates of same-sex marriage to make an argument against these arrangements.
    • They will say that marriage isn’t about marrying as many people as you love; it’s about marrying one other person you love. It should therefore be restricted to two people. But why is this? Who are gay-rights advocates to insist that we limit the number of people in marriage to two?
  • One may disagree with Warren’s position and believe that gay marriage is simply part of the centuries-long evolution of marriage that has occurred and that it would not harm, and may even marginally help, the institution of marriage. I disagree, but I understand such a case can be made–and, in fact, that case has been made by intelligent and sober advocates for same-sex marriage (like Jonathan Rauch). 
  • But to say that the arguments put forth by Warren are “deeply offensive and unfair” is itself, I think, unfair. And the effort to portray Warren as a bigoted and benighted figure is both unfair and wrong.
  • President-elect Obama deserves credit for asking Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. It is a symbolic gesture for sure–but symbolism matters, and this reciprocal generosity of spirit is good for the country.
  • The outrage directed at Warren is an effort by some to intimidate those who oppose same-sex marriage into silence and de-legitimize their arguments rather than answer them. This effort needs to be resisted, especially by those who claim to care so much about “tolerance” and the free and open exchange of ideas.

LMW COMMENT: I was initially appalled at President-elect Obama’s choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural. Why provide such a prominent place to an obvious bigot? But, recognizing that Obama always seems to be thinking 6 moves ahead, I was willing to try to understand what he was about. Without in any way changing my views of Pastor Warren, I am beginning to sense the purpose of Obama’s selection, and to see its value. First, it may change Warren, as recent changes to his web site suggest may already be happening. Second, it opens a dialogue that offers the promise of intelligent interaction and compromise on issues where good people have strongly differing views. Third, it is a political inroad into the Republican dominence of right wing conservatives. It is surely a graphic demonstration that Obama meant what he said when he defined himself as President of all Americans, not just those who voted for him. As an outspoken advocate of tolerance (see my novel, The Heretic) I will give Obama the benefit of the doubt and look forward to see how this initiative plays out.

read the entire article at … http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/wehner/47591 


6 Responses to “* gay marriage, Rick Warren and tolerance”

  1. andeeroo said

    Lew – Thanks for setting a reasonable tone and balanced perspective on this tempest in a teapot.

    I believe Obama’s gesture toward Warren is in return for the forum Warren held with Obama and McCain last fall. Neither will change their minds on issues, and that’s o.k.

    Hopefully Warren will continue waking the evangelical community to provide assistance to AIDS epidemic in Africa and holistic assistance to the poor in other developing nations.

    and President Obama will do just fine in his first term tackling the ending of war, financial debacle, mortgage crisis, healthcare dilema and education defict.

  2. Kerry said

    I don’t feel that I am in a position to know what Obama was thinking by selecting Warren, perhaps time will tell. I think it was poor judgement. I would rather he had invited Warren to the White House for coffee and not offered him such a high profile opportunity. I am a supporter of Obama’s but I am not under the illusion that he is going to save the gays. I hope that he is able to pave some of the road, but as long as marriage remains tied to religion and the federal government refuses us over 1000 rights, we have no hope of equality.

  3. No question Prop 8 will be reversed. Very few would have any freedom if it were up to the religious of the world. They seem to want to be god.

  4. Bob Lurer said

    For the first time in months, you and I totally disagree. Irrespective of President-Elect Obama’s purpose, the decision of selecting Warren was, I believe, a huge mistake that sends mixed signals to some of his most ardent supporters. Until last week, Warren’s web site clearly stated that gay and lesbian people were not welcome in his church and were excluded from membership. Warren’s slanderous statements included equating gay people with pedophiles. If the purpose of President-Elect Obama selection of Warren to speak at the inaugural was to reach out to the evangelical community, why not reach out to the Klan or to skin-heads or Neo-Nazi’s? They vote too and I’m sure their votes went to McCain. Let’s get Rocky J. Suhayda, the Chairman of the American Nazi Party to give just a three minute speech at the inauguration. After all, President-Elect Obama does not have to agree with Suhayda – he only needs to “reach out” to him and his followers. I truly wish, as you, that I could give President-Elect Obama the benefit of the doubt but at some point, a line has to be drawn. Hate speech is hate speech and should not, in my opinion be given the imprimatur of a person in such status as a president-elect.

  5. Lew Weinstein said

    PAUL I am surprised (and on reflection pleased) at the response from gay people I know. Most agree with you, and look forward to a productive dialogue, after which Prop 8 will be reversed. LEW

  6. As a gay man and a follower of Obama, I believe that it was a good idea to bring in all thoughts to the table. W the ununiter has done everything that he could do to separate us. Last week Melisa Etheridge a gay woman met with the Reverend and signed her album for him. They say people are less prejudice when they know someone of color or sexual orientation. It seems we should get to know him and maybe he might just stop his rhetoric.

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