Obama Delivers Purpose-Driven Slap to Gays and Lesbians

by Dick Price —

In choosing a prominent anti-gay evangelical preacher from Orange County to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, President-Elect Barack Obama has gone out of his way to insult the gay-lesbian community, which is still licking its wounds from the passage of Prop Hate, the California constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.

Rick Warren, the senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, leads one of the nation’s largest megachurches with over 20,000 members. As moderator of the controversial joint campaign appearance by John McCain and Obama, he is perhaps best known for his bestseller, “The Purpose Driven Life.”

Considered a more forward-looking evangelical for his stances on such issues as government’s role in fighting poverty, he nonetheless uses his pulpit to espouse the standard conservative opposition to abortion rights and was especially vehement in his denunciations of same-sex marriage.

Citing Biblical support for his position in a message to his congregation, he says that the tiny minority who are gay or lesbian – one or two percent of the population, he says – are trying to force a view of marriage that runs counter to what “every religion, in every culture, throughout the world has believed for 5,000 years: One man, one woman, for life.”

No doubt, Gov. Lester Maddox could have – and probably did – mine that same Bible for equally faulty anthropology to support keeping African Americans ignorant and poor and seated at the back of the bus in Georgia a half century ago, just as Confederate President Jefferson Davis could have – and probably did – cite chapter and verse to keep their grandparents in slavery a century earlier, just as Germany’s good Christians found solace in its pages for turning their heads from Auschwitz, just as – well, you get the picture. In the Wrong Hands, the Good Book can be twisted to support the most outrageous intolerance. Jesus would surely weep.

Here’s how Lori Vandemeir, Southern Vice-Chair, CDP Rural Caucus, expressed the outrage many progressive Californians feel:

“We also live five minutes from Saddleback Church and know Rev. Warren all too well. Saddleback Church (under Warren’s direction) was a key proponent for Prop 8, so to think that this man (who spews hate and uses his church to financially back that hate on a regular basis) is being rewarded by delivering the inaugural invocation is a slap in the face to everyone here in California who fought so hard against Rev. Warren and the Prop 8 supporters. I cannot imagine what the Obama team was thinking when they chose hate over hope in one of the very first moments of an Obama presidency. Shame on them!”

dick-price.gifObama has made no secret of his own opposition to same-sex marriages, favoring instead civil unions that give gays and lesbians important legal rights while keeping them second-class citizens, at the back of today’s bus. And he has made laudable efforts to “reach across the aisle,” as politicians like to say, including rather then excluding Americans of nearly every stripe.

And yet, in this case, he and his handlers have made a pointed affront to the gay and lesbian community that supported his candidacy in overwhelming numbers in an effort to appease or attract a deeply conservative evangelical community that is sure to support his programs the moment hell freezes over.

Dick Price
Editor, LA Progressive


  1. Ellen says

    Is it possible that Rick Warren loves those in the gay community as he is commanded?

    Is it possible that although he feels a same sex union is wrong he does not hate the gay community?

    I do not hate those of differing political views even if I do not agree with them.

    There are lots of things people do wrong yet I do not hate these people. I do plenty of things wrong and I would hope that I am loved inspite of myself!

    Just a thought.

  2. Ellen says

    Prop 8 was not against same sex partners. It was simply about the definition of marriage.

    I for one, hold no hate for same sex partners and like many who believe marriage is the name of a union between a man and a woman,

    I also believe same sex partners should enjoy all thex same benifits that married couples enjoy. Same sex unions should include a license/binding contract; perhaps called a “Licensed union”? If there is a better definition of a bindinglegal document /promise of fidelity/loyalty and life-long partnership…go for it!

    I have not heard any hate-filled comments against any in the gay community in my church community (relative to prop 8 or otherwise) I would not be part of any Christian family who did not first love our brothers and sisters as we were commanded to do first and foremost.

    I still believe this is a country where all of you and I are allowed to not only to have differing opinions but to express them. This is what real freedom is. So, you are entitled to your opinions and I still believe marriage is the name for the binding union between a man and a woman.

    I do feel that same sex unions should be given the same respect and legal benifits of those who are married. That is my opinion for whatever it is worth.

    OJust to clarify: while we Christians only constitute 33% of the world population, please don’t forget the Jewish and Muslim faiths wwho, to my knowledge do not call same sex unions “marriage” either.

  3. Clyde Derrick says


    I cannot thank you enough for your no-nonsense statement. I am boggled by the apologizing that people are doing for Rick Warren, a man who says gays should suppress their feelings akin to anger management because their “parts don’t fit together.” His ignorance is both shocking and dangerous. I applaud “widening the tent,” but not accepting hatred as a guest.

    Clyde Derrick

  4. Wade A. Kyle says

    Dear Dick, in your comment above”Barack Obama has gone out of his way to insult the gay-lesbian community” I don’t think it is logical to assume that a man as clever as Obama would “go out of his way” to insult any of his supporters, but rather I believe that he is attempting to make sure that all of his constituents have fair representation. Pastor Warren is not only known for his support in helping the disenfranchised, he also is a major philanthropist whom gives much financial support to inner city programs and is a front-runner in the battle to end HIV/AIDS world-wide. I must say that I am just as suprised (pleasingly so) as most at our president-elect’s selection of one of my personal mentors and I hope that as we,(the 33% professing Christians) continue to pray for Obama, that he will continue to seek out common ground amongst our diverse and spiritually lost nation, rather than pertuate division as I feel this article has attempted to do.

    • says


      Good to see you here.

      It’s certainly true that Obama and his team are politically astute, surely sharp enough to know their embrace of someone who has vehemently opposed same-sex marriage — someone who has equated homosexuality with incest, for example — would anger the gay community and its friends.

      They made the political calculation that the damage among gays, lesbians, and their friends would be worth the cost, given the potential gain they might get among evangelical Christians by inviting a preacher to the inauguration who will not allow gays among his congregation.

      For all I know, they might be right. Certainly, it’s likely that a simple prayer will fade in importance was time passes. It’s just a prayer — and Obama has a great many things to do to heal this country.

      But for me to sit by while friends of mine are treated as second-class citizens, confined to an inferior status that makes their often difficult lives that much harder. Nope. Not going to do it.

      If that’s divisive, so be it.

      — Dick

  5. Obama is not who you thought he is says

    Get used to the next 4 years of Sister Souljahing from Obama. Anyone that paid attention to his actions as a legislator and candidate could have expected this.

    Too much “HOPE” and not enough scrutiny.

    Obama 08-12 will be Bill Clinton all over again.

  6. Terrie Williams says

    Rick Warren’s words from your article:
    “tiny minority who are gay or lesbian – one or two percent of the population, he says – are trying to force a view of marriage that runs counter to what “every religion, in every culture, throughout the world has believed for 5,000 years: One man, one woman, for life.”


    Only 33.06% of the population of the world are Christian. Not 51%, or 99% or even close to a majority. It is a “mere” 33.06%.

    Of that 33.06% of the Christian population, many denominations argue that other Christian denomiations, whose beliefs, practices and very bibles differ, are not, in fact, true Christians. Yet, for the purposes of pushing their beliefs, their leaders use numbers to unify religions that are not unified, and words like “tiny” or “mere” to inflate in their own minds the need to protect an institution, marriage, that is loosing by the 52% that end in divorce.

    Californ’a Prop 8, was passed in large part, based on the false assertions by a minority world view, a religious view. For the sake of rationalizing the irrational, note that Prop 8 passed by a “mere” 3% margin of California voters; a 52% victory for Prop 8. Not a landslide. A “mere” 3% of separation.

    For this county to operate as it is supposed to; with separation of church and state, such that “mere” populations could not assert control over a “mere” population, whether they be “mere” African American populations or “mere” Mormon populations, then for it to do so, an integral word needs to change because it appears that this word is a religious word with religious connotations that impede the very separation of church and state this country is founded on. This word is “marriage,” 52% of which, don’t work anyway.

    The movement of what is right should be a movement to change the word “marriage” in our Federal and State legislatures to the words “civil union,” so that as Mormon’s seal their marriages in their churches, but Baptists don’t, as gay’s unite with their partners and commit to lives lived with them as others choose to marry or co-habitate for the same reasons, there is no other way to give the people of this nation the forum to do so without such separation.

    That’s my “mere” and “tiny” 2%.

  7. says

    “the moment hell freezes over.” – well put. Right wing, fundamentalist Christians will never support Obama, so why offend the people who actually supported you? Warren is not only a slap in the face to the LGBT community, but offends anyone, gay or straight, who believes in social justice and that separate is NOT equal.

    It was easy to hope that Obama would be more liberal than his campaign. It appears the opposite is true. The present reality is that Obama is symbolically endorsing bigotry on the grandest of scales. The reality is Obama is appointing central-right leaning cabinet members. The reality is Obama’s “inclusion” and “reaching across the aisle” means reaching out to the right, while denying any seats at the table for the left. When “inclusion” means courting those dedicated to exclusion, the whole ideology of “inclusion” blows up in your face.

  8. Dr.Bob101 says

    I am gay and have been a gay activist for 30 years and I say BRAVO, Barack Obama! Joe Solmonese of The Human Rights Campaign does not speak for all LGBT people, especially considering that this organization has failed the LGBT community so dramatically recently, particularly in the pathetic campaign it conducted against Proposition 8. It’s time for a new approach and it’s about time that we had a president who is not an ideologue and can go beyond embracing only those based on “loyalty” or agreement on all issues. Isn’t that what Reagan and Bush did? In picking Rick Warren to simply give a prayer based on common ground, Obama makes a statement that as people we are much more alike than we are different. He is not agreeing with Warren’s political positions, nor should we fear he does. This sets the stage for Obama to challenge existing homophobic government policies with congress on a similar basis. It greatly increases his credibility in arguing for LGBT equal rights and the elimination of The Defense of Marriage Act, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and ultimately for national Civil Unions. Obama has indeed changed politics as usual already. This is not the “your with me or your against me” victim-based, “it’s my turn” “punish your opponents” politics of the Bushes or the Clinton’s for that matter. It’s a brilliant move of inclusion, which we can all build on to advocate for LGBT rights. If Barack Obama can include Warren, he can include us, and Warren and his followers must remember that when the time comes. Plus, isn’t it inclusion that we as LGBT people have been asking for all along? The bottom line is that Obama is already leading in a way that is new and challenging and we are not used to it yet. He is not taking the failed approach of adversarial politics that has lead to the bitter cynicism of Solmonese and others, and that is a very good thing for the LGBT cause.

    • marie vogel says

      Thank you for your broadmindedness. It’s very refreshing.

      I do vote for same legal rights and privileges for gay couples as for hetero-couples. Though I wished they would not insist on using the word “Marriage” for their permanent relation.
      Indeed that term has been used through the ages for an arrangement between Man and woman. Can they not come up with a different term? They might meet way less resistance.

  9. Ed says

    His stance shows that he is generally supportive of gays but trying not to offend the hardcore religious community, who unfortunately have a bigger voice.

  10. Dr. Jim Hamilton says

    I am not sure that Obama should have chosen Rick Warren! My reasons is that yes he has spoken out against gays and other issues that are taking place. Being a minister i believe the word of God is free to all that will listen, i don’t believe any church should sale Bibles,CD’S,DVDs etc: Though out the bible you will find when God choose a minister or whatever title you would like to use ! Often times he told men to leave their families and go preach the gospel, he would supply their needs though his riches in glory. As you continue to read the stories there were always some one waiting to take care of them.
    Many churches operating today would not exist if the preacher hadn’t brought books and paid to go to college! I guest you are wondering what does this have to do with Obama ! What we are seeing is all about politics. People are being deceived read 2 Timothy 3 chapter, don’t take my word read the book ! Read Revelations ! and then tell me that what i am writing here is wrong.. BEWARE !!!!!

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