Yesterday, President-elect Obama’s press conference on his new economic team quickly digressed into a discussion on Obama giving Pastor Rick Warren — who has a long record of anti-gay views — the privilege of delivering the inaugural invocation. Obama said he was reaching out to religious conservatives, showing that he could “disagree without being disagreeable.”
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who is openly gay, devoted an entire segment last night to the topic. Maddow noted that Obama has now sparked the ire of the LGBT community as well as the religious right, some of whom are even attacking Warren for accepting Obama’s invitation. She called it Obama’s “first big mistake”:
MADDOW: What are we left with here? We are left with the cold, hard political fact that this is a lose-lose proposition for Barack Obama, the first big mistake of his post-election politicking. The Christian Broadcasting Network folks are proverbially loaded for bear against him anyway. … And Obama’s supporters among centrists and progressives? Well, they just dumped a big bucket of tarnish all over Obama’s star power.
In his press conference, Obama stated, “A couple of years ago, I was invited to Rick Warren’s church to speak, despite his awareness that I held views that entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion.” Maddow countered that Obama had invited Warren to speak at the people’s house, not his own private domain:
MADDOW: The implication of Sen. Obama’s defense is that he is returning the favor. … But Obama is not inviting Rick warren to his church or to his campaign or something. He’s inviting him to the nation’s capital to convene the swearing in of the next president of the United States. The President-elect did not invite Warren to his home. He invited him, proverbially, to our’s, the nation’s.
Maddow concluded that in centuries, when human rights activists reflect on the inauguration of the first black president, they might also ask, “But what was that guy who compared homosexuality to incest doing there?”