Image licensed under cc-by-2.0. Credit: All About You God at Today President-Elect Obama talked about dialogue and disagreement. That should remind me that as President, he’ll stay committed to bridging differences through understanding and respect.

His inauguration party ought to include people whose viewpoints differ from Obama’s on issues that divide Americans, issues like abortion and the scope of civil rights. It reflects the sincerity of his commitment. Obama should invite people who have the same sincere commitment.

Unfortunately, Obama extended an invitation to Rick Warren, who, in televised and recorded remarks as recently as this week, has roundly and repeatedly dismissed and marginalized gay Americans. In addition, he probably offended millions of Americans committed to extending the civil right of marriage to gay Americans.

Mr. Warren had every right to support Proposition 8. He also had the right to support it just as he did: disrespectfully and dismissively, and without any gesture towards bridging differences or attempting to understand.

The way he supported it (not simply that he did) should have disqualified him from the inauguration ceremony.

Mr. Warren’s offense was neither acceptable nor trivial, but Obama’s invitation means he considered it one or the other, if not both. Mr. Warren dismissed gay relationships as shallow at best, having more in common with incest and pedophilia than with marriage. He swiftly dismissed tens of thousands of gay Americans who have married without fanfare (not to mention millions of civil rights supporters) by saying gay Americans really seek public approval, not marriage rights. And he ignorantly and cruelly characterized the struggle as one between a 5000 year old tradition identical in every religion and culture (even if it weren’t a wild fiction, it wouldn’t be a coherent argument) and the need to "appease" a tiny minority of Americans (where do I begin?)
Dear Mr. Obama,

Please listen to those who’ve taken issue with your choice. Respect us, understand us better, and replace Mr. Warren with someone else, perhaps someone who shares Warren’s viewpoints, but whose behavior has earned him or her the honor and prestige your invitation accords.

Sincerely yours,

Steve Kass
Madison, NJ