The Cycle

Obama and Inaugural Committee respond to LGBT outrage over Warren

The LGBT community is one group upset over President-Elect Barack Obama’s choice of Pastor Rick Warren to lead the invocation at his inauguration on January 20. Warren, the pastor of Lake Forest, CA-based Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life, has spoken out against gay marriage and abortion, alienating liberals and the LGBT community.

“It is our goal to make this the most open and accessible and inclusive inauguration in history and that means including all points of view and all kinds of people,” Linda Douglass, chief spokesperson for the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC), told PRWeek. “That has been a core part of President-Elect Obama’s message since he has been on the national stage.” In a press conference on December 18, Obama also stressed those points.

“It is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues,” he said. “What we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.”

Douglass also stressed that Reverend Joseph Lowery, an advocate for civil rights for the LGBT community, will also be speaking at the inauguration.

But those in the LGBT community are not happy with the response from the PIC and President-Elect Obama. Groups including GLAAD and Human Rights Campaign have released statements against Obama’s choice.

“It is unimaginable to me that they would not have anticipated both the depth and the level of insult that we would feel by having him choose someone who so openly and blatantly expressed anti-gay bias,” said Cathy Renna, managing partner of LGBT issues firm Renna Communications. “What were they thinking? Did they think we would just ignore this?”

While no official response has come from a united LGBT community, Renna said, several people have expressed a desire to write to Obama’s transition team and the PIC. She also said many people upset do not want to disrupt such a historic inauguration.

“If we were talking about anything but the inauguration, we’d be having a different conversation and the community would be reacting in a different way,” Renna told PRWeek. “This is unacceptable in our country’s version of a ritual that tells the rest of the world who we are and what we believe in, by saying this is our new president.”

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