Massachusetts Representative Barney
Frank (Democrat) has said he is “very disappointed” by
President-elect Barack Obama's choice of megapastor Rick Warren to
give the invocation at this inauguration. Frank spoke Sunday on
CNN's Late Edition.
Gay rights groups began protesting the
pick on Wednesday – immediately after it was announced – saying
Warren was homophobic.
“I am very disappointed by
President-elect Barack Obama's decision to honor Reverend Rick Warren
with a prominent role in his inauguration,” Frank said in a press
release. “Religious leaders obviously have every right to speak
out in opposition to anti-discrimination measures, even in the
degrading terms that Rev. Warren has used with regard to same-sex
marriage. But that does not confer upon them the right to a place of
honor in the inauguration ceremony of a president whose stated
commitment to LGBT rights won him the strong support of the great
majority of those who support that cause.”
The Reverend Rick Warren is a
best-selling author and heads the prominent evangelical Saddleback
Church in Southern California.
Warren and Obama first met in 2006 at a
Saddleback AIDS forum where the president-elect challenged him on
preaching against contraception.
A prominent leader in the evangelical
movement, Warren supports the outlawing of abortion in all cases and
is a staunch gay rights opponent. But his moderate tone on AIDS,
poverty and climate change have made him controversial among social
Gay activists say Warren is homophobic.
They point out that his Saddleback megachurch bans gays and lesbians
from membership, he supports the controversial ex-gay movement that
claims gays can be “cured” through prayer, and, most importantly,
he supported the passage of Proposition 8 – the California
constitutional amendment that yanked back the right of gay and
lesbian couples from marrying in the state.
In that heated gay marriage debate,
Warren likened gay marriage to an incestuous relationship, pedophilia
and even polygamy.
“Mr. Warren compared same-sex couples
to incest. I found that deeply offensive and unfair,” Rep. Frank
said on Late Edition.
“If he was inviting the Rev. Warren
to participate in a forum and to make a speech, that would be a good
thing,” Frank said. “But being singled out to give the prayer at
the inauguration is a high honor. It has traditionally given a mark
of great respect. And, yes, I think it was wrong to single him out
for this mark of respect.”
Rep. Frank is the first openly gay
elected House member.