Talking Points on Rev. Rick Warren

by HRC Staff •

On Dec. 17, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese sent a letter to President-elect Obama and his transition team decrying the choice of Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration. Read the letter here:

The letter stated that - due to Rev. Warren's vocal support for California's Proposition 8, as well as his public statements equating homosexuality with pedophilia and an array of other anti-LGBT sentiments - his selection for such a visible and prominent role in the inauguration is insulting and hurtful to LGBT people.

The choice of Rev. Warren also belies Obama's calls to religious leaders to own up to the homophobia and racism that has stood in the way of combating HIV/AIDS in this country, as well as public calls for religious leaders to open their hearts to their LGBT family members, neighbors and friends.

HRC's David Smith, vice president of programs, appeared on MSNBC this morning to tell Norah O'Donnell why the choice of Rick Warren is absolutely unjustified. Watch the video:

And Hilary Rosen was on Anderson Cooper last night, where she called the Warren pick "an outrageous mistake on the part of the Obama campaign" and condemned the pastor for using homosexuality as a weapon and to divide one group from another. Watch the clip here:

The inauguration is a symbolic event - it is not a policy roundtable. Our issue with the choice of Warren isn't about people disagreeing with his stance on marriage equality or any other policy issue - although our disagreements with him are deep and numerous. What this is about, however, is President-elect Obama choosing a man who has been a general in the culture war against LGBT people as the person he wants to represent the totality of our nation from a spiritual perspective.

Only when Rev. Warren and others support basic legislative protections for LGBT Americans can we believe their claim that they are not four-square against our rights and dignity.

At a news conference on Thursday, President Obama defended his choice of Rev. Warren, saying that "a wide range of viewpoints" will be presented during the inaugural ceremonies. Watch his response here:

Rev. Warren's viewpoints about our community have been well documented.

In an interview with Steven Waldman, the editor in chief of, Rev. Warren compares marriage equality to incest. Read an excerpt below, and watch the interview here:

Steven Waldman: But what about, like, partnership benefits in terms of insurance or hospital visitation?

Rick Warren: You know, to me, not a problem with me. But the issue to me is, I'm not opposed to that as much as I'm opposed to the redefinition of a 5,000-year definition of marriage.I'm opposed to having a brother and sister be together and call that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that a marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.

Waldman: Do you think, though, that they are equivalent to having gays getting married?

Warren:Oh I do. I justテ For five thousand years, marriage has been defined by every single culture and every single religion - this is not a Christian issue. Buddhists, Muslims, the Jews, historically marriage is a man and a woman. And so I'm opposed to that. And the reason I supported Prop 8 really, was a free speech issue. Because if it hadテ. First, the court overrode the will of the people. But second, is, there were all kinds of threats that if youテ that did not pass, then any pastor could be considered doing hate speech if he shared his views that he didn't think homosexuality was the most natural way for relationships. And that would be hate speech. To me, we should have freedom of speech. And you should be able to have freedom of speech to make your position, and I should be able to have freedom of speech to make my position. And can we do this in a civil way? Most people, you knowテ I have many gay friends, I've eaten dinner in gay homes, no church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church. Kay and I have given millions of dollars out of "A Purpose-Driven Life" helping people who got AIDS through gay relationships. So they can't accuse me of homophobia. I just don't believe in the re-definition of marriage.


In a 2004 letter to his Saddleback Church parishioners, Warren urges Christians to vote in order to prevent marriage equality. Read an excerpt below, and read the full letter here:

テ Presidents serve for only 4 years, so they can only make a limited impact. But Supreme Court Justices serve for life, and they are the ones who decide on issues like abortion, gay marriages, human cloning, harvesting babies for stem-cell research, revoking the tax exemption of churches, removing "under God" from the flag pledge, and "in God we trust" from our money. In most ways, the Supreme Court has far more influence and impact on our day-to-day lives. This extremely important fact has been overlooked in most of the campaigning.

President Bush and Senator Kerry have VERY different opinions about the type of people who should become Supreme Court Justices. They could not have more opposite views about these matters. Either man will shape the court in very different ways.

If the members of our congregation fail to vote on Tuesday, we are actually surrendering our responsibility to choose the direction of our country for the next 40 years. If we do not vote, we have no right to criticize or complain when unbiblical decisions are made by the court in the decades ahead.


The Human Rights Campaign urges President-elect Obama to reconsider his announcement.

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