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Melissa Etheridge, Rev. Rick Warren to “build bridges”

December 23, 2008

(Writing and reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis)USA-POLITICS/

 Singer Melissa Etheridge has been an outspoken advocate for gay and lesbian rights. But this week the openly lesbian singer had an encounter with a man who has received no love from the gay community, the Rev. Rick Warren. He opposes gay marriage and President-elect Barack Obama’s choice of Warren to give the inauguration invocation has put both men in the crosshairs of controversy. But despite all that, Etheridge wrote in an online blog post on Monday at the Huffington Post that, to her own surprise, she found out that Warren was … her fan.
 
Etheridge and Warren met because he was scheduled to give the keynote address at an inter-faith event organized by a Muslim advocacy group, and Etheridge was to perform there.
    
Etheridge confesses on her blog that at first she thought about canceling her appearance at the event, and then she talked to Warren on the phone. 
 
“He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn’t sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher,” Etheridge wrote.
 
She also reported that Warren said he struggled with Proposition 8, the ballot measure that California voters ultimately approved in November eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry. It’s because of Warren’s support for eliminating that right that he is under fire these days.
    
Etheridge is in a committed relationship with a woman and together the two are raising children. She has repeatedly criticized Proposition 8, going so far as to declare last month that she would not pay her California taxes because the state was not treating her like an equal citizen by denying her the right to marry her partner. But she has nothing but good things to say about Warren, who she described as a thoughtful man of the cloth.
    
“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,” she wrote.
    
Etheridge is not the first member of the gay and lesbian community to call for calm in the Warren controversy. But she is one of the most prominent lesbian figure to extend an olive branch to Warren. Will it succeed in calming tensions before the inauguration? We’ll see.

Comments

Why is Melissa Etheridge apologizing for Rick Warren? Pastor Warren should apologize himself for his gross insults towards gay people and their families, if he really means it. Until he actually undoes the damage he’s caused, he might as well be another Phelps or Limbaugh or whoever else, when it comes to gay Americans.

Posted by jp | Report as abusive
 

I am soooo glad I never bought ANY of Melissa Etheridge’s music. I am a lesbian and she is no spokes person for my rights or lack of them. I don’t know what her and Rick are doing behind closed doors, but it does not benefit out community.

Posted by souza | Report as abusive
 

I have always felt that if you want to be treated with respect, you have to act respectfully. Melissa has demonstrated this and will help build the bridges needed if our community is to achieve its goals.

Posted by Kathy | Report as abusive
 

Melissa,

Thank you for your transcendent message. I support marriage equality, and I too was concerned about the choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation.

Your message, and your willingness to transcend differences, and embrace choice and change, is what captured my heart:

“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.

I will be attending the inauguration with my family, and with hope in my heart. I know we are headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for all families.

Happy Holidays my friends and a Happy New Year to you.

Peace on earth, goodwill toward all men and women… and everyone in-between.”

Posted by eo | Report as abusive
 

Unfortunately there seems to be about as much bigotry against those of the Christian faith as against gays and lesbians. Change is needed in both directions and the hateful treatment Rick Warren has received is ample evidence of it.

Posted by Ron Furgerson | Report as abusive
 

I can appreciate Melissa’s sentiments about extending ourselves so that others can get to know us and not be so fearful of us, but does that mean the Rick Warren should still deliver the inaugural invocation? We can’t afford for Rick Warren, who is seemingly in conflict with himself on the issues of gay rights and abortion, to be propelled any further into superstardom to dissiminate his divisive ideology.

Posted by Brian Phillips | Report as abusive
 

What would the Obama team do if Melissa was in charge of the inaugural ceremonies and invited a white suprematist to invoke her God? Would they say they understood it was for the best of the country? End of story.

Posted by truth_be_told | Report as abusive
 

Kathy I agree totally. There is a great LGBT civil rights organization called the Empowering Spirits Foundation that acts the same. They are very creative in how they approach this hot topic issue, in that they engage in service oriented activities in communities typically opposed to equal rights to foster thought and change for LGBT equality.

A friend of mine told me about it and I thought it was a great, positive approach to the issue. We had so much fun at the last event and it was great to give back to the community. Plus it was great to converse with others on the other side of the table in a way that wasn’t confrontational.

Anyway, this can be such a heated issue and I thought this was a unique approach.

 

In general, I have NO CLUE why gay and lesbian marriages are opposed to by certain groups. 2 people are in love, so be it. They are not out there to get anyone else involved in their relationship. Love between 2 people is just that, between the couple only. It’s sad to see in the 21st century, this sort of discrimination.

Posted by Stacey Klein | Report as abusive
 

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