Tue Dec 23, 2008 by Anil Kalhan
SAJAforum: Muslim conference prompts gay-evangelical love, peace, harmony
President-elect Barack Obama‘s selection of conservative fundamentalist minister Rick Warren, who supported California’s Proposition 8 in last month’s elections, to deliver the invocation at the presidential inauguration has caused many of Obama’s progressive supporters to feel a sense of “betrayal,” as Neil Buchanan has written at Dorf on Law. Singer, songwriter, and Prop 8 opponent Melissa Etheridge, who is openly lesbian and has been a longtime activist for gay rights and other progressive causes, had much the same initial reaction. While she had never previously heard of Warren, she wondered whether Warren was a “hate spouting, money grabbing, bad hair televangelist like all the others,” and whether she should boycott the inauguration on account of his selection.
Given the controversy, Etheridge was “stunned” to learn that Warren would be giving the keynote address at the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s annual convention in California — where Etheridge herself was scheduled to appear with Junoon’s Salman Ahmad to perform “Ring The Bells,” a song they had co-written “call[ing] for peace and unity in our world.” (Since December, apparently, is “Using Music to Change the World Month,” the MPAC performance was intended to initiate a broader “Ring the Bells for Peace” Campaign, which you can read more about here.)
Etheridge says that she initially contemplated canceling her appearance at MPAC on account of Warren’s appearance. However, as she recounts at the Huffington Post, Etheridge ultimately decided on a different approach to the situation: