Melissa Etheridge Suggests Fighting H8 And Rick Warren With Tolerance

Melissa Etheridge (who not too long ago contemplated a tax protest in response to Prop 8) now thinks that supporters of same sex marriage rights should spend some time reaching out to the H8ers, too.

In response to all the backlash against the selection of Saddleback pastor Rick Warren giving the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration, she says:

When I heard the news, in its neat little sound bite form that we are so accustomed to, it painted the picture for me. This Pastor Rick must surely be one hate spouting, money grabbing, bad hair televangelist like all the others. He probably has his own gay little secret bathroom stall somewhere, you know. One more hater working up his congregation to hate the gays, comparing us to pedophiles and those who commit incest, blah blah blah. Same 'ole thing. Would I be boycotting the inauguration? Would we be marching again?

But, last night, Etheridge performed at a Muslim Public Affairs Council event last night — at which, she was informed Monday, Warren was going to be the keynote speaker.

She flipped. And then she thought. And then she reached out to Rick Warren.

On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn't sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn't want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his wife's struggle with breast cancer just a year before mine.

When we met later that night, he entered the room with open arms and an open heart. We agreed to build bridges to the future.

Maybe it's the spirit of the season, or she's infected with some audacious hope, but Etheridge thinks that maybe, rather than shunning religious figures who denounce same sex marriage (or homosexuality more generally), the anti-H8 community should engage them on issues and in causes on which both sides agree.

Of course, she might have also written it not knowing that the Saddleback Church used to — until recently — deny practicing homosexuals membership in the congregation. Or she might have written it before the Pope said that "saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was as important as protecting the environment." Or she might just be trying to understand the Prop 8 supporters that are trying to annul her marriage after they totally kind of completely hinted to voters that they wouldn't.

Actually, she probably does know those things. She's lived with open intolerance much of her life, after all. That's what makes it harder to hold hands and try to change people by allowing them to understand her. It's easier to hate the H8ers than to grit your teeth and show more understanding of their religious world views than they've ever bother trying to show people who have something other than the most banal heteronormative sexuality.

The Choice Is Ours Now [Huffington Post]

Related: Warren’s Church Removes Anti-Gay Statements From Website [Think Progress]
Gay Groups Angry At Pope Remarks [BBC]
Prop. 8 Sponsors Seek To Nullify 18,000 Gay Marriages [Huffington Post]

Earlier: Melissa Etheridge on Prop 8