UPDATE: As I stated below in my opinion piece, I felt strongly that we as a community ask Rick Warren to attend a forum to respectfully debate our differing opinions. Thankfully, the Courage Campaign has done just that, and they're asking the community to sign on the invitation to send to Rick Warren. Amazingly, Rev. Eric Lee, President of the Southern Christian Leadership (founded by MLK), is a supporter of gay marriage as well as the organization. So add your signatures to the invitation by going here. Be sure to pass this on!
Since Obama announced that Rick Warren would be doing the invocation at his inauguration, I've been flooded with phone calls and emails about how we should react. In some cases, I was flat out asked what I think we should do as a community. There just isn't an easy answer to these questions.
After mulling it over, I decided to try and figure out what it is we're reacting to - Rick Warren's stance on Prop 8, or how he's used the pulpit and the Bible as a weapon? Many of us know people who voted Yes on Prop 8, and we've had lively yet respectful discussions with them. I don't think anyone of us would take anyone's right away to vote in a free, democratic country, or to express what they believe. Yet when it comes to Rick Warren, I believe we're reacting to his offensive words and how he uses the Bible and his religion against us. It's not about his opposition to same-sex marriage, it's about his blatant disrespect of us.
So how do we respond? Protest his church? Bite back? Lose faith in the change that Obama has promised? I believe signing the petition that Equality California is sending to Obama, showing the President-Elect the numbers that disagree with his choice, is effective to a point. I believe contacting Obama's teams and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and voicing our opinions is effective to a point. So what do I think is most effective? In the spirit of Harvey Milk, reach out to Rick Warren's church, ask them to send representatives to an open forum where we can all respectfully discuss the issues that we disagree on. Or volunteer in the church's good-will efforts and outreaches to their community. Join them in their services. Involve ourselves with them.
BUT THE MESSAGE TO THEM NEEDS TO BE CLEAR. We're not confronting them on their stance about same-sex marriage or LGBT rights. We're confronting them on their use of religion as a weapon to further bigotry and discrimination. Two can respectfully disagree. But in this case, one forgot the respect.
Actions speak louder than words, and I whole-heartedly support direction action. But that's just one tool of many to create the bridge we must cross in order to legalize same-sex marriage. Without engaging our opponents directly, respectfully, and peacefully, and showing them our faces and those they directly affect, we're going to remain a faceless, angry mob, and that will only motivate them more to squash us.
Build bridges. Rise above. Show your face. ACT. And do it all with the respect that we don't always receive. Otherwise, will we be no better than they?
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