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Warren Peace


Obama's choice of Pastor Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation is stirring up a controversy, mostly because of Warren's public support of Proposition 8 in California.The Huffington Post is calling it Obama's "first real rift with the left." The Human Rights Council is encouraging Obama to "reconsider" in a strongly worded letter. And Matthew Yglesias wonders if this might be analogous to an Iranian politician promising a new direction and then "elevating a cleric who's well-known for his high-profile endorsement of assassinations."Proposition 8's passage was a civil rights setback, no doubt about it, but Warren's views on the issue of homosexuality are pretty nuanced. In this video he says he doesn't believe we should have "unequal rights depending on particular lifestyles" but is opposed to "a redefinition of a 5,000-year old definition of marriage." His arguments don't convince me (definitions of words are in constant flux and civilization survives) but he's not unreasonable. His views don't compare to endorsing assassinations and I'd argue he's a moderating force in the debate.The complaint from some gay rights activists, of course, is more just that Warren shouldn't be given such a prominent role in the inauguration. But, while Obama could have picked an evangelical with views that are isomorphic to progressives' (a Jim Wallis, perhaps), that wouldn't have represented the same sort of olive branch to those with whom progressives disagree: the pro-Prop-8 folks. And what's wrong with an olive branch?In the Human Rights Council's letter they say:"...by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table."I'd say that by inviting Rick Warren, Obama is making a public demonstration of his commitment to the idea that there's room at the table for camps that disagree-even on the most emotional issues.
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