Melissa Etheridge Supports Warren after Talking to Him

Grammy-winning rocker and lesbian activist Melissa Etheridge says she's talked with Rev. Rick Warren and that he's not the "hate spouting, money grabbing, bad hair televangelist" she expected him to be. In fact, Etheridge says, gays should welcome Warren when he arrives in Washington, D.C. to deliver the invocation at President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration Jan. 20.

Etheridge spoke with Warren Sunday before they both appeared at an event hosted by the civil rights oriented Muslim Public Affairs Council, Etheride wrote in an entry on The Huffington Post last night, telling readers that the conversation dissolved her previous, second-hand conceptions of the reverend.

Etheridge says she reached out to Warren "in the spirit of unity" after being informed that he would speak at the event Sunday night. The singer said she considered canceling her appearance in light of Warren's support of California's Proposition 8 and his opposition to gay marriage--the political stances that have brought a maelstrom of complaints against Obama for giving him a prominent role in the coming inauguration.

Warren spoke passionately in support of Prop 8 in a video message to his congregation, calling gay marriage "not even a Christian issue--it's a humanitarian, a human issue that God created marriage for the purpose of family, love, and procreation." Warren has also said that approving gay marriage is equivalent approving incestuous, pedophilic, and polygamous marriages.

Etheridge writes:
I told my manager to reach out to Pastor Warren and say "In the spirit of unity I would like to talk to him." They gave him my phone number. 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.

Etheridge called on fellow gays and lesbians to keep an open mind on Warren. She suggested that, instead of marching on his California church, they should consider volunteering for one of his charitable organizations that works to fight HIV/AIDS. She also said that, after speaking with Warren, she decided to attend (and not protest) Obama's inauguration.