Barack Obama has invited Rick Warren to pray at the upcoming presidential inauguration, and the Politico is reporting on the reaction from gay rights activists:
‘Barack Obama’s choice of a prominent evangelical minister to perform the invocation at his inauguration is a conciliatory gesture toward social conservatives who opposed him in November, but it is drawing fierce challenges from a gay rights movement that â€“ in the wake of a gay marriage ban in California â€“ is looking for a fight.’
According to this report, the editor of the Washington Blade, Kevin Naff, called the choice “Obama’s first big mistake.” Naff said:
‘His presence on the inauguration stand is a slap in the faces of the millions of GLBT voters who so enthusiastically supported him. This tone-deafness to our concerns must not be tolerated. We have just endured eight years of endless assaults on our dignity and equality from a president beholden to bigoted conservative Christians. The election was supposed to have ended that era. It appears otherwise.
I can understand why gay rights activists would be upset. But in reality, Obama’s choice of Warren is purely symbolic. As far as policy is concerned, I suspect that the gay rights movement will have a friend in President Obama. Thus the Politico concludes:
‘Despite the symbolism of picking Warren, Obama is likely to shift several substantive policy areas in directions that will please gay voters and their political leaders, including a pledge to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” in military service.’
Time will tell how much of the gay rights agenda will actually become public policy in the next four to eight years. One thing is for sure, however. The fact that the activists are complaining already provides political cover for Obama by making him to appear as a centrist. Perhaps that is the point of this selection in the first place.