Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What to do About Warren?

Update: It seems that Warren is now taking a page from Palin's book. He is blaming the media.

Susan Russell (hat tip!) over at An Inch at a Time provided a link today to a Boston Globe (Boston.com) article on Warren/Obama/inauguration. It's good reading.

But the question is, what to do about Rick Warren, and WHY this situation really does matter and should matter to gays and straights alike.

Obama and Warren: The Inauguration and What They Each Believe

Obama is not going to remove Warren from the inaugural invocation. That is clear. Obama is extending his hand to those who disagree with much the liberal and progressive political community supports--not to mention some religious institutions--or at least tolerates (e.g. abortion).

I can understand that thinking from a political make-nice perspective, but the fact remains that Obama doesn't understand this issue at all and has a terrible blind spot when it comes to the issue of same gender marriage. He's human. But that does not mean that he can or should escape criticism for his position or for his inclusion of a religious bigot at his own inauguration.

It is important to understand that Obama does not support same gender marriage but does support something akin to what we think of as equal rights. Many of us know this as "separate but equal", and we know this is a faux standard. As a professor of constitutional law, Obama should know that too. Perhaps he, in fact, does.

And what does Pastor Rick Warren believe?

Please view this. It's important you especially watch from 2:15 forward. It is probably one of the biggest compilations of falsity and BS overall I have ever heard. I cannot begin to take the time to go into each of his points, but would LOVE to. I could write ten pages on almost every sentence.

It is important to hear his views from HIM, not me.

So, what we have here are two people, President-elect Obama and Pastor Rick Warren in agreement on same gender marriage, albeit perhaps for different reasons. Make no mistake, on the point, they are in harmony.

Warren refers to his recent Beliefnet interview and should you be so inclined, you can view it here. This is how some of the recent criticism started. But the fact is, long before the Beliefnet interview--and now after--he holds his point on same gender marriage. He says one thing in one way to his church and one thing another way to society at large. But he says the same thing, it is just coded differently for each audience.

Since the incredible recent volume of criticism of Warren emerged, his Saddleback Church has removed the following from their site, and I think you can see why.

Gender identity to Warren is a "lifestyle choice". That is fundi-code for those that refuse to believe one is innately not straight regardless of how or why:

So, despite Warren's faux plea that he thinks everyone should have equal rights, he doesn't view lgbt people as equal to start with nor can they be equal given his Biblical/religious beliefs.

Warren speaks not as an individual but under the color of a Southern Baptist pastor. Unless Warren leaves the Southern Baptists or the Southern Baptists change their religious dogma, Warren's position(s) will NOT NOT NOT NOT change and I don't care how many tables he sits at for discussion, how many dinners he has with gay couples, and how many times he issues some kind of bizarre clarification or even (gasp!) apology.

Any thought of reconciliation with Warren on this issue is absent his core religious beliefs and values. It is a waste of time and I don't care who challenges us to work "with" Warren. It is useless on its face.

For those of us insulted by the blending of religion and constitutional standing, let me iterate again that marriage is NOT a religious institution but a legal contractual one. You get a license to get married from your municipality. That is a legal matter. Whether you choose to be married by Bozo the Clown, an airplane pilot at 15K feet, an Elvis impersonator, a Justice of the Peace, someone that bought a religious standing of one kind or another on the internet, or a church pastor or priest, these people only do you the service of the actual completion of the contract.

If you divorce, Bozo, the pilot, Elvis, the Justice of the Peace nor anyone else CAN or WILL help you out. It was a legal contract to start with, and it must be dissolved legally. It is a civil institution by its nature, not a religious one.

However, the trip wire is the legalities that come with that civil contract both in terms of state and federal law. If you cannot get married in California, you have no right, for instance, to a joint tax benefit under federal law. There are several thousand of these legal inequities and no religious "blessing" can change them.

What the California Supreme Court Had to Say About "Marriage"

Writing for the California Supreme Court last May, Chief Justice Ronald George (appointed by GOP governor Pete Wilson on July 29, 1991) opined:

Marriage, George said, is not just a bundle of rights, but is a relationship uniquely honored by the state and society. Confining same-sex couples to a different category marks them with "second-class citizenship," the chief justice said.

As for the argument that marriage has historically been reserved for a man and a woman, George said that even the most widely accepted traditions "often mask an unfairness and inequality" that only the victims understand.

No kidding, Justice George.

So, should we--can we--inherently "define" rights away?

Apparently, some believe we can and should as evidenced by Proposition 8 which Warren supported and Obama opposed. It should be said, however, that to do so cost about $37 million dollars for the supporters of prop 8 (to ban same gender marriage) and about a million more than that in their attempt to defeat the proposition (to stop the ban of same gender marriage). In the end, the proposition won 52.3% to 47.7%.

The German yellow star and pink triangle visually denoted people that were supposedly both different and lessor. The KKK's burning crosses (still existent today) define people as supposedly different and lessor. Swastikas scrawled on synagogue doors represent people supposedly different and lessor.

Prop 8 was a political invisible branding of supposed difference and lessor.

Civil unions, offset by marriage, are different and lessor.

We either believe in equality, or we don't. It is that simple.

Under the California Supreme Court's language, neither Obama nor Warren support equality no matter how vociferously each pleads that they do.

Reaction to Obama's Choice of Warren for the Inaugural Invocation

I wish I could say that the liberal/progressive end of the spectrum was united in outrage about Obama's decision. They aren't, as reading any of the probably now hundreds of posts on the matter at Daily Kos, for instance, now makes perfectly clear. Some in the lgbt community are not outraged about the choice, some are, some straights are outraged, some are not. Most that are not outraged don't "get" the problem.

Interestingly, some on the conservative side are outraged because Warren is colluding with the supposed enemy, and some are reticent--even mildly supportive--of both Obama and Warren.

And this, all over one word in the English language: marriage.

Some have suggested all churches stop marriage blessings. Yeah, that's going to happen. Talk about a war!

Some have suggested changing the legal terminology from marriage to "civil union" across the board as some European countries have done. That won't happen given this is a state matter and even were we to try this, it could take umpteen decades though the idea is a solid one. The folks invested in theocracy, though, won't EVER buy into this. It would require them to further separate religion from politics which is antithetical to their goal to start with. On the positive side, it might make the IRD and their ilk nuts.

So, What Do We Do About Warren?

From my vantage, we do what we are doing. We continue to call him out as a religious bigot and political theocrat. We give him no ground, we enter into no discussion. He has his right to freedom of religion, and the lgbt community has their right to equal protection. Warren does NOT have the right to to create two classes of people. Been there, done that, not going there again. Ever.

And for those going to the inauguration, we need to ask EVERY sympathizer on the issue to hold up a symbol of defiance when Warren speaks and perhaps break into a chorus of We Shall Overcome! or something. They should turn their backs to Warren, en mass. The visual would be spectacular and the world will see it, too. And so will America.

For those of us not attending, we should be sending message after message to Obama stating our outrage (you can be outraged without being a complete jerk). That can be done here.

Warren also needs to hear from you, don't let him off the hook. You can contact him at info@saddleback.net. Send pictures of you and your beloved. Tell him your story. Let him know how he is wrong and why and how religious persecution effects you. Being insulting and crude won't help. Remember, when you send something by e-mail it is traceable.

There are 36,000 people in California that could have their marriages voided. Make sure he hears from as many of these people as possible.