While the media are fixated on the ire gay activists are directing at the president-elect for selecting Prop 8 proponent Rick Warren to give the invocation at the Obama inaugural, I've noticed little attention given to the fact that the man selected to give the benediction is pretty much the polar opposite of Warren on some key doctrinal matters related to homosexuality.
Rev. Joseph Lowery, a liberal United Methodist minister, has mostly been referred to in the media in connection to his work in co-founding the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, one of the key organizations in the civil rights movement. Yet freezing Lowery in time as an icon of the 1960s civil rights era doesn't do justice to his status as a vocal clerical advocate of same-sex marriage and openly gay clergy.
Reports Cathy Lynn Grossman of the USA Today Faith & Reason blog:
In 2000, Lowery, gave what was described as an electrifying speech calling for gay clergy, to the dinner during the general convention of the United Methodist Church, the nation's second largest Protestant denomination.
According to Affirmation, which describes itself as newsletter for United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Concerns:
Lowery, noted over the years for his ability to not only "talk the talk" but "walk the walk," addressed a series of justice issues that still challenge us in this first year of the 21st century. Among these issues are ... the risk the church takes when it restricts, limits and excludes those whose orientation is homosexual. Dr. Lowery wondered out loud, "how could the church, because of a person's sexual orientation, deny ministry to those whom God has called?" He then suggested that he would prefer to err on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion.
And in 2004, he told ABC News he supported same sex marriage:
When you talk about the law discriminating, the law granting a privilege here, and a right here and denying it there, that's a civil rights issue. And I can't take that away from anybody.
Rather than noting the stark contrast to more fully inform readers, most outlets such as the Washington Post are ignoring or downplaying Lowery's viewpoint. Here's the passing reference to Lowery's liberalism from today's Washington Post story on the controversy, "Obama Defends Call on Invocation" by staffers Jacqueline Salmon and Peter Slevin:
"It is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues," Obama said.
He emphasized that Joseph Lowery, a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, will give the benediction and has "deeply contrasting views to Warren on a whole host of issues."
Slevin and Salmon quoted Warren from a recent e-mail before turning to liberal People For the American Way president Kathryn Kolbert to slam the Warren selection as rewarding a man who has "actively promoted legalized discrimination."