President-elect Obama's decision to ask Rick Warren to give the opening prayer at the Inauguration has created a firestorm on the left, particularly from the gay and lesbian community. I have to say that at first I was taken aback myself, given that I'm somewhat tired of the evangelical right being given this honor and privilege so frequently (think Billy and Franklin Graham), while the mainline traditional churches are so often passed over.
Be that as it may, I think the bottom line for me is that while some may see this as Obama giving Rick Warren his blessing, I think the greater reality is that Rick Warren is giving Obama and his administration his endorsement and blessing.
This seems to me to be Obama's effort to avoid a renewed culture war, a war which has been so political destructive in America over the last three decades. It may well be worth this concession. It certainly is in line with Obama's overall effort to bring unity to the vital center of American politics.
What gay and lesbians need to realize is that the issue of homosexual marriage remains very much a hot-button issue among middle America, one that is capable of restarting the culture war. Time is probably on their side, given the more liberal views of the younger generations, but 2009 may not yet be a 1964 for the gay movement.