by Clayton Gibson
This SHOULD have been the headline around the world after the Rev. Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life, gave this significant interview to Beliefnet.
Unfortunately, a misunderstanding of Warren's comments has been widely and loudly disseminated by my fellow progressives, describing Warren as bigoted and hateful, when, in fact, his comments reflect an unusual depth of understanding about gay marriage as a civil rights issue.
Warren may be, as The Task Force warns, an outspoken opponent of reproductive choice and stem-cell research, and that should concern us, but he has never equated marriage between same-sex couples with incest and pedophilia.
In this video, posted on the Saddleback Web site on Dec. 22, the Sunday before Christmas, Warren says, flat-out, "I believe no such thing. I never have." In the video, Warren explains again that he has always firmly believed that gay couples – and other non-traditional families – should have equal access to the rights and responsibilities of marriage. He just doesn't think it should be called "Marriage."
Does this necessarily mean he is ready to give up his legal marriage and go to the wall for civil unions for everyone, as http://www.MyOutSpirit.com wondered in "Reconsidering Marriage: Are Gay Activists Fighting the Right Fight?"
At the same time, framing this passionate and unrelentingly civil Christian leader as a hateful bigot in the style of Jerry Falwell is unacceptable and counter-productive.
I take that back. Attacking Warren is only counter-productive if you value dignified and thoughtful coalition-building for the long-term success of our movement for the equal rights and recognition of LGBT families.
If your priority is increasing year-end fundraising, riling up your base, or keeping your issues in the news, then attacking Warren makes perfect sense.
We should be better than that, especially as spiritual LGBT people. We should educate our community to have deep perspicacity about our issues, and to have the maturity to do the long-term work of creating change.
LGBT activists from around the country will convene in Denver, Colorado at the end of January to train and network and get inspired at The Task Force's Creating Change conference, and I hope the messages that emerge will reflect the world as it is, and not the twisted sound-bites and caricatures that too often define the discussion, as in the case of Rick Warren.
Let's resolve to do better in 2009.
P.S. Of course, these are MY views and do not neccessarily reflect the views of http://www.MyOutSpirit.com or its 1,000+ members and resources.