Gays roll with Obama’s choice
December 21, 2008
ASPEN ” President-elect Barack Obama’s choice of evangelical minister Rick Warren to give the Inaugural invocation has launched a media storm of controversy nationwide. But Aspenites, while not thrilled, appear relatively nonplused by the turn of events.
Warren, who opposes abortion and supports California’s Proposition 8 (banning gay marriage), is the pastor of the Saddleback Church and the author of “The Purpose-Driven Life.” His participation in the inauguration has initiated a barrage of criticism from gay-rights activists and launched the first real controversy of Obama’s recent Cabinet and Inaugural selections.
“I’m not going to march in Washington because he chose Rick Warren, but if he starts to enact policy to please Rick Warren, I’m going to town,” said Jack Johnson, an Aspen City Councilman and former Aspen Gay Ski Week organizer.
Johnson said he worked “too hard” on Obama’s campaign to watch him enact right-wing policies. But he was careful to note that he didn’t expect Obama’s choice of Warren to be a harbinger of things to come.
Nor did Basalt resident Bryan Gonzalez, a local delegate to the Democratic National Convention and current co-chair of Gay Ski Week.
“It’s just an invocation at an inauguration. It’s not a man who is going to be creating policy,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully, everyone will get through it. Perhaps President-elect Obama will make a better decision next time around.”
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Gonzalez said he found the decision “odd,” considering Obama’s careful nature.
“He’s been so meticulous about his choices that he’s made throughout the campaign,” he said. “It’s really kind of odd that he would have picked someone like this that would have created such a stir.”
Aspenite Camilla Auger, chairwoman of the Pitkin County Democratic Party and one of the Democratic electors who officially elected Obama, was critical of the choice ” but careful to note that she still had great confidence in Obama’s ability to move the country forward.
“I think this was a poor choice,” said Auger. “The guy is an extreme evangelical minister. And he’s less extreme than a lot of people, but he’s still an extreme evangelical minister. And it would be nice to have set a different tone at something so important as the inaugural.”
But Aspen resident Jon Busch, an outspoken supporter of gay rights, saw a silver lining in the decision.
“I think it was a misstep on Obama’s part. But I think some good can come out of it,” he said. “He has now to prove to the gay and lesbian community that he is as supportive as he said he would be in the campaign, because he has done something to call into question his support.”