Like my queer sisters and brothers, I am very disappointed in the choice of Rick Warren to lead the invocation at the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. Indeed, he has said things about us that are extremely ignorant, hurtful, and prejudiced. For our civil rights agenda, Warren was the absolutely wrong choice. But I disagree with those who claim that Obama’s choice of Warren is any sort of signal to us that he isn’t leaving a place at the table for us.
Indeed, he has, more than anyone who has come close to holding the Office of the President, sent signals to the gay community that we do have a place at the table. It may not be exactly in the way that we want it, but we have an opportunity to move our civil rights agenda forward in a way that we never have before.
Now I learned today that Geoff Kors, the Executive Director of Equality California, is literally giving up his place at Obama’s table. In a purely symbolic gesture to protest Warren’s invitation, Kors is giving up an opportunity to represent queers and the #1 civil rights issue of our time at one of the most historically significant events ever. This accomplishes nothing positive for us.
We have every reason to be outraged at Obama’s choice, and it is right to point out Obama’s flawed decision. But, it is a mistake for us to squander any of our precious resources on a futile effort to convince Obama to rescind the invitation.
We have been fighting for a place at the table for so long, and now that we finally have one, Geoff Kors is trying to make his attendance conditional with nothing to leverage. The only ones who lose out by his decision to turn down this opportunity is the LGBT community. We can get the message of our disapproval, hurt and anger across without sacrificing this opportunity to represent ourselves and our cause.
Finally, I urge Geoff Kors to ask himself what Jesus would do. The answer is that he would make a place at the table for everyone, including the likes of Rick Warren. We need to do the same.