Millions of people are finalizing their plans to travel to Washington, D.C. on January 20, 2009, to be part of your historic inauguration as the 44th president of the United States. We are all hoping to relive the joy of election night when we stood side by side believing that, together, we can change our country and our world for the better.
Today, we are disheartened that one of the voices that may be privileged to be part of this historic moment is that of Rick Warren. His delivering the invocation would be an insult to all of us, women and men, who support women’s right to self-determination. His presence is offensive to all of us, gay and straight, who support equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.
We understand your desire to engage people from opposing sides of many issues. But dialogue requires treating your opponents with respect. Rick Warren has compared abortion to the Holocaust and stated that he would not vote for a “Holocaust denier.” He implies that those of us who support abortion rights are equivalent to Nazis.
Rick Warren worked to take away the rights of LGBT people in California by supporting Proposition 8, calling it a “moral issue that God has spoken clearly about” and stating the “homosexual marriage is one of the five issues that are not negotiable.” He calls LGBT people “unnatural.”
Words do matter, President-elect Obama. Words lifted you to the White House and all of us to a place where we felt included in your vision. By choosing Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration you have deeply offended progressive people who worked and voted for you in record numbers. This is not the tone we hoped you would set on this historic day — and giving a platform to a messenger of intolerance does not send a message of acceptance and change.
There are limitless opportunities for your administration to work with people who do not agree on every issue, but who nonetheless agree that we must end poverty, address climate change, and achieve human rights for all. We are deeply disappointed that you have made a different choice and hope that you will reconsider Rick Warren’s inclusion in this important and historic celebration.
President-elect Obama, you can still select a minister who will speak to our collective vision for hope, change and the promise that we will all be part of this great country, and we urge you to do just that.