Melissa Etheridge and the Obama Inauguration: Rick Warren Extends His Hand to the Gay Community

It's a Christmas miracle!

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By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

OK. Here's a little tale about a Christmas miracle.

Rick Warren is reaching out to the GLBT community and—sort of—apologizing for his more intemperate remarks about gay marriage.

Now, I'm not going to put a huge amount of stock in the healing effect of this, especially after seeing the depth of the hurt in the GLBT community in response to my last post about the Warren inauguration flap.

But it appears that the Reverend Rick is going out of his way to demonstrate that he is not a latter-day Anthony Comstock, like the evil Ken Starrs and James Dobsons of the right.

And he's managed to persuade über-lesbian rock star Melissa Etheridge—one celebrity to another—of his sincerity. She tells the story in the Huffington Post.

This, I believe, is a good development.

As I argued last week, the arduous task of any oppressed minority in America is to appeal, with nearly endless patience, to the goodwill of an often oblivious majority.

(Yes. That is unfair. Much in politics is unfair.)

I do not think that Warren, after praying at Barack Obama's inaugural, is going to suddenly have a St. Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus moment and stand before the evangelical community to endorse gay marriage.

The right-wing pastors, and even liberal politicians like Obama, are going to follow their flocks on this one, not lead.

But that makes it even more important, as Etheridge argues, to defuse anger and make connections:

Brothers and sisters the choice is ours now. We have the world's attention. We have the capability to create change, awesome change in this world, but before we change minds we must change hearts. Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket. But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to listen. They don't hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.

Maybe if they get to know us, they won't fear us.

I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.

Well Melissa, it's Christmas, a good time of year for dreaming. I hope you're right.