Obama says that he asked Warren to speak in an effort to include differing views in his administration. But could you imagine if the President-elect had asked an anti-Semite, or a preacher that was in favor of segregation, to speak at his inauguration? There would be outrage in America. Today, that outrage is being felt in the LGBT community. It is one thing to invite people of differing views to the White House for a meeting, but it is completely different to invite them to open the inaugural ceremonies. Hatred and bigotry should not be celebrated in America and will not be tolerated from this new administration.
The “Turn Your Back on Rick Warren” campaign was created by Chris Mason, an activist and founder of Driving Equality, a three-month trek through all of the lower 48 states to advance LGBT Equality. Chris was incredibly excited to learn that he would be receiving tickets to attend President-elect Obama’s inauguration. He felt a sense of pride in his country and in his future president that, as a gay American, he was not accustomed to feeling.
“I was thrilled at the chance to witness the inauguration of my new President,” Mason explains. “I volunteered for Obama’s campaign, donated the most money I could afford on my student budget, wore an Obama button everyday for months before the election, and made sure everyone I knew at school and in my neighborhood got out to vote on Election Day. I convinced my skeptical friends that Obama would be a true friend to the LGBT community. When I heard that he chose Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, I got a lump in my throat. I recognized that name. Rick Warren is a staunch opponent of equal rights for LGBT people. He was a leader in the fight to strip gays and lesbians of their right to marry in California.”
“I had second thoughts about going to the inauguration,” Mason said. “I no longer feel welcome at the event. It is hard to believe that such a strong opponent of equality will be speaking at what was supposed to be such a joyous occasion. A lot of my friends that were going to travel down to D.C., have decided not to go.”
“I decided that I would still go to the inauguration, but that I would turn my back on Rick Warren while he speaks. This is a simple gesture that makes a strong statement; I am not a second-class citizen and I will not allow anyone to tell me otherwise. I believe that a young Barack Obama would have done the same thing if he were at a ceremony and a speaker who favored segregation took the stage.”