Entertainment behind the scenes
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.
Comedian Ellen DeGeneres said she was “saddened beyond belief” at the decision by voters to ban the newly-won rights of gays and lesbians to marry in California.
Etheridge, 47, who did not get to marry her partner Tammy Lynn Michaels before the Nov 4 ballot, suggested in a blog post that she would no longer pay her California state taxes because, as a lesbian, she did not now enjoy the same rights as as other Californians.