For the past week or so, there has been a hubbub about President-elect Obama’s selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration in January. I understand the disappointment and anger of so many people, specifically GLBT Americans who are still reeling from the massive loss of Prop 8 in California. However, there is someone who is getting hardly getting any recognition as this drama unfolds. Reverend Joseph Echols Lowery is one of the foremost African American ministers in the United States. He precided at Coretta Scott King’s funeral, helped lead the Montgomery bus boycott after Rosa Park’s arrest in 1955, and he’s a strong advocate of equal rights for GLBT Americans. More info here.
Two things are happening here. The far left wing doesn’t understand what Obama means by “Change,” and by causing such a ruckus over Warren’s selection to give the invocation, they’re allowing the right to have the appearance of taking the higher ground because they aren’t making a big stink over Reverend Lowery.
Almost tediously throughout the past four years since Barack Obama made his keynote address to the Democratic National Convention, we have heard a variation on a phrase. He used it in his acceptance speech on election night:
“Young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled, Americans have sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of red states and blue states,” he said. “We have been and always will be the United States of America.”
The United States of America. This has always been a difficult concept for me to grasp. How do we have 303+ million people spread out across 50 states over 3.7 million square miles and still call ourselves “united?” Our differences are so vast and varied that there’s no possible way that we can “all get along.” But, this man, who was born to a white, American mother and a black, Kenyan father, is doing it. He’s putting the man who has been known to speak out against homosexuals and the man who has fought for gay rights in the same inaugural program.
Further, the line up for the day looks like this:
The United States Marine Band
This is all American. The military. A band. Yet, anti-war activists have said nothing about the military playing a role in the program
The San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus
Children. Everyone likes children. And they are representing a part of the United States. Kids are Americans, too!
Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks
The Honorable Diane Feinstein
The Senate Majority Leader. A senator. A Jew. And someone who use to be against gay rights. After serving as mayor of San Francisco and the homosexual community being outraged that Feinstein would not march with them, she has had a strong career in national government, and she says, regarding Prop 8: “I think as more and more people have gay friends, gay associations, see gay heroism, that their views change. I think people are beginning to look at it differently, I know it’s happened for me. I started out not supporting it. The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve seen the happiness of people, the stability that these commitments bring to a life. Many adopted children who would have ended up in foster care now have good solid homes and are brought up learning the difference between right and wrong. It’s a very positive thing.”
Dr. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA
A white preacher who runs a mega-church and preaches against the homosexual lifestyle while stating that he doesn’t “hate gays” – he even gave them doughnuts when they protested his church. Basically, Warren is a bigot who says he loves you while preaching you’ll go to hell if you don’t follow his way of thinking.
The Queen of Soul. African American. A legend. Need I say more?
Oath of Office Administered to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
By Associate Justice of the Supreme Court
The Honorable John Paul Stevens
A coupla white guys standing around, giving & taking oaths. What it’s looked like for the past 233 years.
Musical Selection, John Williams, composer/arranger
A white, Academy Award winning composer
Itzhak Perlman, Violin
A Jewish, Israeli virtuoso.
Yo-Yo Ma, Cello
A French born, Chinese-American virtuoso.
Gabriela Montero, Piano
A Venezuelan born, American virtuoso.
Anthony McGill, Clarinet
An African American prodigy.
Oath of Office Administered to President-elect Barack Hussein Obama
(yep, he’s using his middle name)
By the Chief Justice of the United States
The Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr.
Another oath give and take; however, this time, to the nation’s first African American president.
The President of the United States, The Honorable Barack Hussein Obama
An African American “Quantrell Award”-winning poet who teaches English language/literature, African-American literature and gender studies at Yale University.
The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery.
The National Anthem
The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters”
Again, military, music and ‘merica.
This is a beautiful line up. It’s an wonderful testament to the man taking the oath that day. Not only is the diversity amazing, but the talent is phenomenal. These Americans come from all over the country and the world, celebrating the first African-American to be sworn in as President of the United States of America. It should be a great show.
For Rick Warren to be the one issue on which people focus in a myriad of problems that our country currently faces concerns me. I don’t want to marginalize the GLBT movement. It’s gaining immense traction right now, and I hope that Prop 8 gets overturned. I do think that we need to look at the big picture, which so many Americans do not see. There’s so many of us. Gays are represented at the inauguration. So are right wing, fundamentalist Christians. What would’ve been real balls is to have had a Muslim cleric give the invocation. Now, that I would have admired.
Remember, too: Obama has to get re-elected. He needs to show Americans he is representing all of them. If he can do that, he really will implement a sweeping change that we have not seen in a generation. Let the man do his job, and see what he does. The change we are looking for is happening, if we take a close look.
This blog was inspired by Melissa Etheridge’s blog, which appeared yesterday on the Huffington Post. She met Rick Warren recently and shares her experience and discusses her thoughts on this issue. There are other points of view out there, too. I encourage you to read them, too. Lynda Resnick and Emma Ruby-Sachs both have interesting thoughts on the matter.