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Obama Video: I disagree with Rick Warren, Invite does not mean shift on gay rights

by David Edwards and Nick Juliano



President-elect Barack Obama says his decision to invite conservative, anti-gay evangelical Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration does not demonstrate a shift in his views on gay rights issues.

Obama, who opposes gay marriage, says he has been "consistent" on his support for otherwise equal rights to gays and lesbians.

"I think that it is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans," Obama said during a press conference Thursday, fielding a question about Warren. "It is something that I have been consistent on and something that I intend to continue to be consistent on during my presidency."

The decision to invite Warren, the California preacher who helped organize the Proposition 8 campaign that succeeded in denying equal marriage rights in that state, has incensed gay-rights advocates and elements of Obama's progressive base.

Defending himself from the criticism that has erupted, Obama reiterated his goal of creating dialogue among disparate voices without being "disagreeable." He noted that he had previously accepted an invitation to speak at Warren's church, even though he knew at the time that the two disagreed on issues like gay rights and abortion.

"During the course of the entire inaugural festivities there is going to be a wide range to viewpoints that are going to be presented, and that's how it should be because that's what America is about," he said. "Part of the magic of this country is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated and that's the spirit we have put together what I think will be a terrific inauguration that's hopefully going to be a spirit that carries over into my administration."

This video is from CNN.com, broadcast Dec. 18, 2008.


Download video via RawReplay.com

Partial transcript

Q: A question about pastor rick warren. He holds a number of social views which are at odds with your own views and with those of some of your very strong supporters. I'm wondering what went into you decision to choose him for this prominent role as you embark on your presidency and when your dotting every i and crossing every t and send some important signals.

A: Let me start by talking about my own views. I think that it is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans. It is something that I have been consistent on and something that I intend to continue to be consistent on during my presidency. What I've also said is that it's important for Americans to come together even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues and I would note that a couple of years ago I was invited to Rick Warren's church to speak despite his awareness that I held views that were entirely contrary to his when it came to gay an lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion. Nevertheless, I had an opportunity to speak and that dialog is part of what my campaign has been all about. We're not going to agree on every single issue but what we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans. Rick Warren has been invited to speak. Dr. Joseph Lowry who has deeply contrasting views to Rick Warren on a whole host of issues is also speaking. During the course of the entire inaugural festivities there is going to be a wide range to viewpoints that are going to be presented. And that's how it should be because that's what America is about. Part of the magic of this country is that we are diverse and noisy and opinionated and that's the spirit we have put together what I think will be a terrific inauguration that's hopefully going to be a spirit that carries over into my administration.







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Originally published on Thursday December 18, 2008.


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