Response to the anger and dismay over the choosing of Rev. Rick Warren as the giver of the inaugurational invocation

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    Dec 21, 2008 8:44 AM GMT
    This my first time starting a topic and I wanted to choose something that would have meaning on us as a community. Along with my take on the subject I am providing some additional information for those that want to take a different direction and focus their anger. Thanks.

    Well, by now, just about everyone has weighed in one way or another on the whole issue of President-Elect Obama choosing Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration. I have seen a few who are a bit upset, but understand and disagree with all the anger being sent toward Obama and I agree with them. He isn't even in office yet. Most are outraged and I do understand. However, few have said anything about a polar opposite being chosen to deliver the benediction at the inauguration, Rev. Joseph Lowery, a longtime civil rights activist and friend of the LGBT community. Yes, Rev. Warren was a very large assistant in the banning of gay marriage in California via Proposition 8. People have expressed how betrayed they feel by Obama. Here is my take on this and I have answered the Human Rights Campaign with essentially the same since I have received 2 emails asking me to join in sending a letter to Obama's transition team to express my disappointment.
    As to the letters I was asked to send, I did not and am not. I am quite sure Obama and his people knew the push back they would receive once the choice was made public. I read some responses where it has been said that Obama has never been on the side of gay rights and it was all just lip service. Some have even said McCain would be more helpful to us than Obama. Each is entitled to his and her opinion, but to suggest that a man who publicly said he would support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage would be better than some who said he would not support that type of amendment and it should be left to the states to decide is absolutely ludicrous. Back to the point of this response. Have we already forgotten a couple of key points? First, Obama has balanced the inauguration with polar opposites: Rev. Warren on one end and Rev. Lowery on the other end. Second, this is just a ceremony, nothing more. While the press believes this will make Rev. Warren the heir apparent to Rev. Billy Graham as the nation's leading religious leader, I can only see that happening if everyone buys into it. Third and an add on for me, I believe the anger, while arguably justified, is directed at the wrong people/person.
    It does no good to send hundreds of thousands of letters to someone who already knows the ramifications of the act. That is akin to 'preaching to the choir’; something the gay community knows how to do all to well. If, in fact, we need to let someone know the heinousness of the ban on gay marriage, then it should be directed where it can do some good and carry some weight. No one is speaking about the impending California Supreme Court cases and the supporting case that will be heard in March of 2009 and waiting until March will be too late and if we want to talk about someone or some entity that actually took their power to stop us, we should also sent letter to the Latter Day Saints church-The Mormons. The Supreme Court cases were filed in November and seek to overturn the ban. It is here that the anger should be vented. I am asking everyone to send letters of support to the people who are seeking to overturn the ban and letters of dismay to the people trying to keep the ban from being overturned.
    Most people will still say this is an equal rights issue. It has gone beyond that now. Let me reiterate that Obama has stated time and time again that he is vehemently in favor of gay and lesbian American citizens having the same rights as our heterosexual partners. He has also said on several occassions when asked directly that he believes on a personal level that marriage is the union between a single man and a single woman, the same as McCain, Palin and Biden. What sets Obama and Biden apart is the fact they believe in the right to equal access and the same relationship rights for gay and lesbian people as heterosexual people enjoy. Back to the court cases. Not only do the cases seek to overturn the ban primarily, but they also seek to stop the same people from getting the California Supreme Court to reverse some 18,000 plus marriages that were conducted before the ban went into place. Again, though a majority of us don't live in California, this means something to ALL of us and will have ramifications on every state going forward, possibly. I am listing below each of the cases, their supporters and dissenters. There are links as well to go to the cases.
    At the end of the day as I sort of eluded to earlier in this blog, this has gone beyond equal rights and in a sense has gotten simpler. This boils down to who owns the word marriage and which dominion it belongs. As I have argued before, if marriage belongs to the church, then so be it. I will get married in my church with no
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    Dec 21, 2008 2:18 PM GMT
    Personally I don't want to live with illusions beyond the extent that is absolutely necessary.

    I see the convocation of an historical national event as separate from policy.

    What I don't wish to repeat is believing in the style of President Clinton (whom I still admire greatly) and being sucker-punched by the substance (DOMA or DADT).

    The opposite would be fine with me.

    What I would like is a situation were you can call me a faggot and spit in my face and that I am actually free to turn around, walk away, turn the key in my lock, and be at home with my husband enjoying the same exact rights as the person who spit in my face. When that happens we will all be free.

    Terry
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    Dec 21, 2008 4:50 PM GMT
    I do agree we need to be watchful and mindful to make sure President-Elect Obama will keep his promises.

    With that said, I think too much is being made of this selection for a prayer. It is just a prayer. Obama did not appoint Warren to any post, nor will he be getting policy advice from him.

    I would add that while I strongly disagree with Warren's positions on same sex marriage and abortion, his motivational books do have some very good writings in them.

    I don't agree with everything Joyce Meyer says as well, but I find her sermons to be worthwhile and inspiring.
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    Dec 21, 2008 5:15 PM GMT
    I think this was a misstep by the Obama transition team. They prolly thought it was a good way to win over the Christian fundies who supported McCain.

    If the negative response by the gay community is not recognized in the months ahead, especially regarding other gay issues, then I think we may have a problem.

    Obama is a political pragmatist, as I tend to be myself. But if he follows a populist anti-gay view, we have lost again. My hope is that a largely Democratic Congress will send him pro-gay legislation that he will sign, without appearing to have actively supported it.

    If he does not, then we are fucked again.
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    Dec 21, 2008 6:11 PM GMT
    While I wish that the preacher chosen for the invocation were more sympathetic to gay rights, I don't think this is a sign that we as a group are going to be "fucked" by Obama's Administration. The actual prayer is symbolic at best of our nations tie to a god, and I doubt sincerely that there will be any exclusion of gays, as part of our country in that prayer for God's blessing on the new administration. The prayer in reality goes no further than the sound of the speakers voice any way. So I don't mind this guy being chosen. We may be bringing more harm to ourselves by making an issue of this choice, than would be in the choice just being left alone as a non issue.
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    Dec 21, 2008 6:44 PM GMT
    Why read into Obama's choice of Rev. Rick Warren to give prayer at the inauguration? Religion has aways had its place in our country's political arena, why should we think that this administration would be any different? Obama is a very religious man and should not be held in, for lack of a better term, contempt for sticking to "the status-quo." BigSETXjock said it best, keeping a mindful eye is our best line of defense at this moment. Let's not bicker about what may happen and focus our energy on progress and change.
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    Dec 21, 2008 7:17 PM GMT
    Well spoken HighVoltageGuy. I'm with you on keeping an eye on other possible appointments, but the choice of leading a prayer, well that does seem likely to favor a traditionally conservative choice. In a weird way, it makes sense that Obama would reach across the party line and try to heal some of the divide.
  • tobyb

    Posts: 111

    Dec 21, 2008 7:27 PM GMT
    Great comments in here. This has to be one of the most ridiculous of the outrages manufactured by the folks at HRC. Funny how they come with appeals from HRC and the like for donations!

    Admittedly, I am not a big supporter of gay marriage. I like to focus on solutions to bigger scarier things wrong with how our country works, like health care and social security, which our government has been unable to fix despite taking our money for years.

    Our economy is melting, our infrastructure decaying, and our younger gay brothers and sisters (and our nephews and nieces and children) routinely go without education and health care. I do not want to be distracted by another silly side issue about symbols.
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    Dec 21, 2008 7:44 PM GMT
    tobyb saidGreat comments in here. This has to be one of the most ridiculous of the outrages manufactured by the folks at HRC. Funny how they come with appeals from HRC and the like for donations!

    Admittedly, I am not a big supporter of gay marriage. I like to focus on solutions to bigger scarier things wrong with how our country works, like health care and social security, which our government has been unable to fix despite taking our money for years.

    Our economy is melting, our infrastructure decaying, and our younger gay brothers and sisters (and our nephews and nieces and children) routinely go without education and health care. I do not want to be distracted by another silly side issue about symbols.


    And what exactly are your gay "main issues" if you aren't a "big supporter of gay marriage"? Apparently you don't have any.

    You are a gay in name only. A "show me the money" sort of gay who is happy to have the sex as a perk, but not the gay issues, just the cash.

    Your "focus on the big issues" is a selfish excuse for not being gay at all, just what serves your own pocket. Admit it: you are a fair-weather gay, who takes but does not give. "What's in it for me" but not for anyone else, and gawd help you if you should get entangled in gay "side issues & symbols" as you say.

    We can do without you at all, thank you very much.
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    Dec 21, 2008 7:47 PM GMT
    My apologies guys. All of the response did not come through. I should have checked back to make sure. I wasn't sure about a word count. Here is the end of it with the court cases I said at the beginning. Thanks again. Great comments from all.

    At the end of the day as I sort of eluded to earlier in this blog, this has gone beyond equal rights and in a sense has gotten simpler. This boils down to who owns the word marriage and which dominion it belongs. As I have argued before, if marriage belongs to the church, then so be it. I will get married in my church with no other church telling my church what it can and can not do. Then along with all married couples, gay and straight, apply for a civil union registration to have access to the 1052 civil marriage benefits that are afforded through the government. If marriage belongs to the government, then all heterosexual couples stop getting those tax benefits and will have to register as being a civil union along with gay couples to receive those benefits. Either way, everyone wins in a way that is correct and the debate on the word marriage will be over, completely.
    I will be send my letters where they should be going and I will also be front and center on January 20, 2009 watching history being made again. I hope all of you who are angry will join me.
    Supreme Court Case Karen L. Strauss, et al., Petitioners v Mark B. Horton, et al S168047


    In support of overturning the ban on gay marriage:
    Letters submitted in support of petition:
    The Bar Association of San Francisco et al.
    Forty-Four Members of the State Legislature
    Anti-Defamation League et al.
    Beverly Hills Bar Association et al.
    Los Angeles County Bar Association
    Sacramento Lawyers for Equality of Gays and Lesbians et al.
    Manning & Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez
    Constitutional Law Center (Monterey College of Law)
    Hastings College of the Law
    Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein
    Richards, Watson, & Gershon
    The Ecumenical Catholic Church
    Donna M. Ryu (Hastings College of the Law)

    In opposition to overturning the ban on gay marriage:
    Letters requesting denial of petition and request for stay:
    The Pacific Justice Institute
    Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence (Chapman University Law)
    Steven Meiers
    Kingdom of Heaven
    American Center for Law and Justice ....
    .. ..
    Supreme Court Case Robin Tyler, et al., Petitioners v. State of California, et al S168066

    In support of overturning the ban on gay marriage:
    Letters submitted in support of petition:
    Beverly Hills Bar Association et al.
    Los Angeles County Bar Association
    Sacramento Lawyers for Equality of Gays and Lesbians et al.
    Manning & Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez
    Constitutional Law Center (Monterey College of Law)

    In opposition to overturning the ban on gay marriage:....
    Letters requesting denial of petition and request for stay:
    The Pacific Justice Institute
    Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence (Chapman University Law)
    American Center for Law and Justice....
    Supreme Court Case City and County of San Francisco et al., Petitioners v. Mark B. Horton, et al S168078


    In support of overturning the ban on gay marriage:
    Letters submitted in support of petition:
    Beverly Hills Bar Association et al.
    Los Angeles County Bar Association
    Sacramento Lawyers for Equality of Gays and Lesbians et al.
    Manning & Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez
    Constitutional Law Center (Monterey College of Law)

    In opposition to overturning the ban on gay marriage:
    Letters requesting denial of petition and request for stay:
    The Pacific Justice Institute
    Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence (Chapman University Law)
    American Center for Law and Justice ....
    Additional support cases:

    S168281 Asian Pacific American Legal Center, et al., Petitioners v. Mark B. Horton, et al.

    In support of overturning the ban on gay marriage:
    Letter submitted in support of petition:
    Sacramento Lawyers for Equality of Gays and Lesbians et al.....
    S168302 Equal Rights Advocates and California Women’s Law Center, Petitioners v. Mark B. Horton, et al.

    S168332 California Council of Churches, et al., Petitioners v. Mark B. Horton, et al.
  • Sparkycat

    Posts: 1064

    Dec 21, 2008 7:50 PM GMT
    I think the more important issue is that there should not be Christian prayers, or any other prayer, during the ceremony. The right to freedom from religion should be applied.
  • tobyb

    Posts: 111

    Dec 21, 2008 8:35 PM GMT
    The Constitution does grant any freedom FROM religion. The framers were smart, but were not THAT far ahead of their times.

    The Constitution grants freedom OF religion. So we're all free to practice our own.

    I think it's no problem having prayers in the ceremony, in which case they have to be lead by some officiant. I want whoever holds the President's office to be as serious as possible about the oath to uphold the Constitution. We have seen what happens when a Prez doesn't honor it. So whether our new president is Catholic, Jewish, Baptist, Quaker or whatever, some pastor from his church/temple should preside.
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    Dec 21, 2008 8:42 PM GMT
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  • tobyb

    Posts: 111

    Dec 21, 2008 8:58 PM GMT
    Red_Vespa said
    And what exactly are your gay "main issues" if you aren't a "big supporter of gay marriage"? Apparently you don't have any.

    You are a gay in name only. A "show me the money" sort of gay who is happy to have the sex as a perk, but not the gay issues, just the cash.

    Your "focus on the big issues" is a selfish excuse for not being gay at all, just what serves your own pocket. Admit it: you are a fair-weather gay, who takes but does not give. "What's in it for me" but not for anyone else, and gawd help you if you should get entangled in gay "side issues & symbols" as you say.

    We can do without you at all, thank you very much.


    Wow. I touched nerve.

    Yes, I do like the gay sex, but I do also give both time and money to a variety of gay charities, thank you. I just don't think HRC and some other organizations do a very good job. They certainly demonize those who don't agree with them on the issue of the day, and use that to raise attention and money.

    If we're talking about who is selfish here, I actually think that for a lot of people, gay marriage is mostly about what financial, health insurance benefits and societal recognition they can get. The people who support gay marriage most adamantly, and certainly those for whom the benefits are the most valuable are often quite well off already. It is not exactly selfless for gay people to support gay marriage.

    I worry more about the families, gay and straight, who don't have ANY health insurance. Dealing with health insurance is often a nightmare, so pity those for whom the horrible dysfunctional Medicaid system is the only option.
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    Dec 21, 2008 9:15 PM GMT
    Toby-

    The rolling eyes were directed to you be the response prior. I agree with some of your points! 8-)
  • tobyb

    Posts: 111

    Dec 21, 2008 10:08 PM GMT
    Cheers, mate.

    I like reading any and all reactions on here. That's the point, innit? Otherwise why have a forum?
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    Dec 21, 2008 10:58 PM GMT
    tobyb,

    The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a national religion by the Congress or the preference of one religion over another, or religion over non-religion. You are mistaken in stating that "freedom from religion" is not a protected right. See Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687 (1994) and read Justice Souter's comment on the ruling.

    Furthermore, you overlook the fact that several faith communities perform same-sex marriage rites---for Rick Warren to actively support legislation to elevate his religious views over others is clearly an example of establishing one religion over another.

    The uproar over choosing Warren is not manufactured nor limited to gays and lesbians: it is symbolic of a weakening of an essential Constitutional right, which has many concerned and upset.

    In attempting to defend his choice, Obama pointed to his desire to overcome divisiveness, yet succeeded in creating more. Its a matter of wrong time and place. Cooperate with Warren by appointing him to a commission or panel discussing religion and poverty or environmental protection, that would be the smarter and more appropriate role-- his views on religion, government, gays and same-sex marriage are prima facia indefensible constitutionally.
  • tobyb

    Posts: 111

    Dec 22, 2008 12:22 AM GMT
    I'm familiar generally with the cases about whether religion has become entangled with the state. But not having a state religion is not the same as there being a freedom FROM religion. Courts have repeatedly ruled that it is not a constitutional violation for someone to be exposed to some of the trappings of religion. There are cases about the appropriateness of swearing on a bible in court, about creches and menorahs in publicly funded displays, about prayer in school, and about "In God we trust" appearing on the currency and in courtrooms and all that.

    These isolated instances just do not add up to having an established religion. In contrast, in the UK, the Queen appoints the prime minister, dismisses him or her if he/she loses control of parliament, signs all legislation and appoints all the judges AND she is the head of the religion and appoints all the bishops too. Now THAT'S establishment of a religion.

    (I'm NOT saying that's a great way to set up a government, just pointing out how far away we are from having the government establish a religion in this country. But let's note that despite all that entanglement, throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries, the UK has run a progressive secular government, and gay people and the religions don't go to war with each other, as some here keep doing!)

    There's just no way that having a preacher at the inauguration violates any Constitutional right. No, we're talking about whether Barack made a political error by asking this guy to officiate. I don't think so. His role on Jan 20 will be ceremonial. No harm no foul.

    If this guy is such an enemy to gay rights, would you really rather have him as a commissioner on issues of religion and poverty or the environment? What if he put his views (which presumably you think are despicable) into plans for the future of health care for the poor, or of education, or church involvement in programs for homeless children? Wouldn't you be wishing that he had just read a prayer on television and gone home?

    Honestly, I doubt he is such a bad guy, whatever his views on gay marriage. (I just got mauled on here for my views on the topic. I'm gay, an atheist and generally support gay marriage, but I get grief from many gay people because I don't support it STRONGLY enough.)

    I think it's time our "movement" leaders made friends with the very tolerant and often pro-gay leaders of nearly all the major religions. I hate seeing "gay" set up in antagonism to "religious." I think we should tell them "God moves in mysterious ways" and leave it at that.

    If we want to do something to help gay people, let's protest the African and Arabic countries where if you're known to be gay, the government will KILL you. THAT'S a problem. Sitting through a prayer read by a guy I disagree with is just not, and Barack is not suddenly our enemy for making us do that.
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    Dec 22, 2008 12:52 AM GMT
    I'm not familiar with anyone who has withdrawn his general support of Obama because of his lousy choice of Warren to deliver the invocation. What is the point of this overstatement of people's reaction?

    The decision is offensive to gay people because Warren was implemental in the recent adoption of Prop 8. He also compares being gay to sexual pathology like incest. I don't see any reason we should remain silent about his selection. It's not as if we're threatening armed rebellion.

    Nor does it make a lot of sense to me to remain silent because, uh, something worse could have happened like Warren's being appointed to the cabinet. There's not much in life that occurs that you can't compare to a worse possibility.

    I'm really curious. What is wrong with gay people expressing their strong disapproval? The question's been posed a zillion times, but would you expect black people to remain silent if an open racist were delivering the invocation just because the president-elect wanted to demonstrate how big the Democratic tent is? It's okay to make these controversial decisions but not to express anger about them?

    I've never been a big supporter of gay marriage, either. (I share Michael Warner's opinion in his book "The Trouble with Normal.") But its importance to many friends doesn't eclipse the importance of other issues.



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    Dec 22, 2008 1:18 AM GMT
    clevermonikerhere said

    The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of a national religion by the Congress or the preference of one religion over another, or religion over non-religion. You are mistaken in stating that "freedom from religion" is not a protected right. See Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687 (1994) and read Justice Souter's comment on the ruling.



    Chill. There are many Supreme Court cases addressing the constitutionality of invocations, Congressional chaplains, religious slogans on the currency, etc. The justices always approvingly trot out the phrase "ceremonial deism," meaning "a content-free gesture whose only purpose is to lend dignity to an official function." That's why it's constitutionally permissible for every Supreme Court session to open with "God save the United States and this Honorable Court," and why it's constitutionally permissible to have an inaugural invocation, no matter how opportunistic the choice of the cleric who gives it.
  • swimbikerun

    Posts: 2835

    Dec 22, 2008 1:35 AM GMT
    Isn't it weird though that this is the Inauguration of the first non-While President and he chooses someone who thinks many of Obama's supporters are acting like pedophiles and incestuous freaks?
  • tobyb

    Posts: 111

    Dec 22, 2008 1:50 AM GMT
    ObsceneWish saidI'm not familiar with anyone who has withdrawn his general support of Obama because of his lousy choice of Warren to deliver the invocation. What is the point of this overstatement of people's reaction?

    The decision is offensive to gay people because Warren was implemental in the recent adoption of Prop 8. He also compares being gay to sexual pathology like incest. I don't see any reason we should remain silent about his selection. It's not as if we're threatening armed rebellion.

    Nor does it make a lot of sense to me to remain silent because, uh, something worse could have happened like Warren's being appointed to the cabinet. There's not much in life that occurs that you can't compare to a worse possibility.

    I'm really curious. What is wrong with gay people expressing their strong disapproval? The question's been posed a zillion times, but would you expect black people to remain silent if an open racist were delivering the invocation just because the president-elect wanted to demonstrate how big the Democratic tent is? It's okay to make these controversial decisions but not to express anger about them?

    I've never been a big supporter of gay marriage, either. (I share Michael Warner's opinion in his book "The Trouble with Normal.") But its importance to many friends doesn't eclipse the importance of other issues.


    I totes see what you mean about speaking up, and people who feel strongly have that right. I don't mean to set up straw men to argue with (it was clevermoniker who said he would have preferred Warren on a commission, not I). It's just you can be right, but arguing about the wrong thing. We have a lot of big work to do in this country.

    I saw "Milk" this weekend, and was reminded of how long ago that was, and how much has been achieved. Now we're down to the inequity of the taxation of spousal health insurance for gay couples. So realistically, most all of the important gay battles have been fought and won. If that means that some of our biggest gay charities can declare victory and don't need to exist any more, I'm OK with that.

    It may sound a bit too high faluting, but I actually think that community involvement in public issues like parks and good transportation and public health have suffered. We gays had work to do fixing our neighbohoods and making sure we didn't get arrested or shot or barred from public office. That's done now. The country really needs the energy and community spirit that gay people so often bring to a project. I want to see gay people leading the new big projects. A new system for free wireless internet everywhere. Cheap computers, a safe and supportive environment, and excellent sports equipment for every grade schooler. Healthcare for all. Fixed roads. Bridges that don't fall into rivers. Cars that don't destroy the air and the icecaps. Gay people should lead the country on solutions to those things. Aren't education and health and jobs our issues too?
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    Dec 22, 2008 3:34 AM GMT
    tobyb said...Now we're down to the inequity of the taxation of spousal health insurance for gay couples. So realistically, most all of the important gay battles have been fought and won. If that means that some of our biggest gay charities can declare victory and don't need to exist any more, I'm OK with that.


    ???? What planet do YOU live on? I've never heard a more naive and uninformed summary of the ongoing gay civil rights battle in my life.

    I have to presume you're some kind of undercover agent for the extreme Right, sent to disrupt & undermine gay rights efforts. Thank gawd you're too clumsy & obvious to be effective against us.
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    Dec 22, 2008 8:43 AM GMT
    Citing Souter was incidental to the argument. I was pointing out to tobyb that yes, the issue of religion vs. non-religion has been explicitly addressed and a viable claim of freedom from religion has precedent.

    Also incidental is whether or not it is constitutionally permissible to have an inaugural invocation---I'm not arguing for or against that here. The question is whether or not Warren was a wise choice for the role.

    For me, a basic requirement for the role would be a person who supports the First Amendment and does not attempt to enshrine into legislation his own religious views over those of others. Warren fails the litmus test here. Yet another theocrat in search of a crown. For true and bold inclusiveness, why not choose a rebbe or imam? Selecting two Christians doesn't signal a healthy respect for religious pluralism. And I think signals and symbols matter, on that point we disagree.

    Texdef, not sure why you told me to "chill". As ObsceneWish points out, I am expressing a point of view, no vitriol or insults.

    TobyB, its not just gay marriages that are about "financial, health insurance benefits and societal recognition"--all marriages concern themselves with those issues. far from being selfish, i think its stabilizing.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Dec 22, 2008 1:55 PM GMT
    I can understand why many here would be turned off to see Warren give the invocation.

    But Obama, "the candidate", wanted to be different, to eliminate the polar opposition, the "red and blue" focus of the last dozen years and be "an includer", meaning to include those who were his opposition and republicans as well. I think its a prudent approach and I think we see an example of it here.

    As far as this man giving the invocation, there are certainly others I would rather see do the job, but its Obama's inauguration and he made the decision.