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Video: The Lowdown on Lowery

by Jeremy Hooper

The Rick Warren fiasco has, rightfully, gained the headlines and the outrage. But what about the other pastor who will appear at the inauguration, Joseph Lowery? The one we've all heard is gay-friendly?

Well, Lowery sat down with MSNBC. And while he does certainly seem down with the 'mo set, he also holds that same tired belief that the word "marriage" is a term that can only roll off the tongues of those for whom "When a Man Loves A Woman" is a suitable first dance ditty. Here's the clip:

Seems like a nice man. A nice contrast to Warren. A true civil rights champion who is clearly working towards peace for all. But that being said -- can we please get past this silly, anti-intellectual idea that gays and lesbians can have everything except the word? It's just....bizzare.

The words "married in the eyes of God"? That is, will, and should be left up to individual denominations to decide. The words "heterosexually married"? That will still be applied only to the straight set. "A marriage I'm willing to personally accept"? Every private criticize will have the right to define their own parameters, whether in a public profession or private thought. However, when talking about the civil contract, the word "marriage" cannot and should not be denied to equal, tax-paying gay couples. We have as much right to it as anyone else. To suggest otherwise is and will always be an unacceptable, short-sighted, separatist stopgap!

We applaud Rev. Lowery for being our friend and advocate, and we're thrilled he will be there to represent. But we do need to keep up the friendly conversation, so as to get us all on the same, benign, "marriage equality for all" page.

Inaugural Benediction: David Shuster Interviews Rev. Joseph Lowery [YouTube]
(H/t: J.M.G.)

**Oh, and we will NEVER accept the idea that the Warren choice is simply "reaching across a divide." We certainly agree with the division part. However, by pulling Warren over despite all of the horribly anti-gay views we've heard him convey in recent days, gays and lesbians are having their lives and loves drug under a bus. And once again, America is receiving the message that gay bias is not as weighty of a problem as other forms of discrimination.

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Your thoughts

Jeremy, I would hope that the lgbt community proceeds with caution about Lowery.

Warren deserves the criticism he is getting but any perceived attack (and I said "perceived attack")on Lowery would make us seem a bit strident about same sex marriage. Not that we shouldn't be insistent on gaining rights for ourselves and our families but I would hate to have this issue incorrectly spun as our community being uncompromisingly intolerant and demanding a litmus test regarding gay marriage to anyone who Obama picks for any position.

We see how much p.r. damage the abortion argument has done to the Republican party and I would hate to see same sex marriage do the same to the lgbt community.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Dec 24, 2008 1:39:30 PM

You're missing the point. Rev. Lowery's actions speak louder than his issue with the word, which he in the interview admits is a personal bias and one of "culture shock". His efforts to promote gay and lesbian equality as well as secure us the same rights as marriage are far more important.

It is Lowery's right to have that culture shock and overcome it or not as he chooses just as it is our right to love whom we choose to love. These are inherently personal things and to have an outside agency mandate that they change is wrong and counterproductive, even if the intentions are good or noble.

We'll get marriage and we'll get it both because of those who insist we have it and the word and those, like Lowery, who were born in another time and have certain ingrained biases but still understand the fundamental differences between right and wrong. It is a disservice to them to only focus on their resistance to the word in spite of their efforts to the spirit.

Posted by: Quakerjono | Dec 24, 2008 1:39:56 PM

The moral of this story is: Religion ruins everything.

Posted by: TheRadicalRealist | Dec 24, 2008 1:40:23 PM

Another black man who supports "separate but equal".

The irony's so thick, you could cut it with a butterknife.

Posted by: TheRadicalRealist | Dec 24, 2008 1:42:02 PM

Alvin: Anyone who perceives anything I said as an "attack" needs to check their sensitivity meter. I appreciate Rev. Lowery greatly, but if me makes public political comments that I find shortsighted, I have a duty/responsibility to say so.

Quakerjono: Please do not tell me I'm "missing the point" simply because you disagree. That's unfair. I cover this stuff every single day of my life -- I have a pretty firm grasp on the marriage vs. civil unions debate.

I am not ONLY focusing on his reluctance to the word -- I complimented Rev. Lowery in the post for being gay friendly and for being a nice contrast to Warren.. And yes, of course he has the right to have this "culture shock." But it is a disservice to me to say I shouldn't have the same right to encourage him to see the issue in a different way (both in this post and in my daily work).

Posted by: G-A-Y | Dec 24, 2008 2:24:22 PM

"I would hate to have this issue incorrectly spun as our community being uncompromisingly intolerant and demanding a litmus test regarding gay marriage to anyone who Obama picks for any position."

The key word there is "incorrectly spun" -- as in, heaven forbid it actually look like what it is.

"The moral of this story is: Religion ruins everything."

Yeah, go ahead and run with that. In fact, why don't you reprint the posts over here that Box Turtle Bulletin was too terrified to leave up? I'd be curious to see them.

Posted by: North Dallas Thirty | Dec 24, 2008 2:24:23 PM

It can't be stated enough: Please, please, please just ignore North Dallas Thirty. For those unfamiliar with NDT: He/she is a notorious (and, of course, anonymous) commenter who trolls LGBT sites starting flame wars with his uber-narrow views. From monitoring both our own site and the several others that he/she has targeted, I have determined that absolutely no good can come out of engaging him/her.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Dec 24, 2008 2:29:34 PM

"But it is a disservice to me to say I shouldn't have the same right to encourage him to see the issue in a different way (both in this post and in my daily work)."

Which is exactly why I said you were missing the point. Perhaps that came off too strongly and I apologize for it, but while you did offer some positive, you took the moment not to encourage, but to lambaste. A unique educational moment has been presented to us here in the debate swirling around Warren. Apparently, Lowery is now about to be dragged into that maelstrom as well.

"I cover this stuff every single day of my life -- I have a pretty firm grasp on the marriage vs. civil unions debate."

I'm uncertain precisely what you hoped to achieve with this, as my issue was not with civil unions vs. marriage, but using a rather tangential comment by a noted civil rights advocate not to further the dialogue. As you mention, you cover this stuff day in and day out. While the service you provide is valuable, the danger is losing perspective on the subject from your close-quarters.

Posted by: Quakerjono | Dec 24, 2008 3:13:29 PM

"From monitoring both our own site and the several others that he/she has targeted, I have determined that absolutely no good can come out of engaging him/her."

You're right; heaven forbid, you might actually learn something, or you might actually have to confront the behaviors of other gay people and NOT simply pretend they don't exist.

In other words, it would be a horrible shock to your worldview. No wonder you want me gone so badly.

Posted by: North Dallas Thirty | Dec 24, 2008 3:13:29 PM


my apologies if it seemed that I was accusing you of attacking Lowery. My point was better put forth by QuakerJohn.

Lowery is the one with whom there can be some communication with. And certainly you have a point with what you said. But we both know how it works - people see headlines and off they go without taking the entire story into account.

Already folks are taking Lowery's comments and going into "outrage overdrive" where they are more concerned with words and phrases that will fill them with transitory empowerment.

I'm just worried that the community can come across as shrill because we argue over differing interpretations of gay rights rather than communicating with those whom we can come to some agreement with about our issues - i.e. Lowery.

I hope in the long run, this issue does not make us look like the religious right.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Dec 24, 2008 3:13:29 PM

No, Alvin, I understood what you meant. I just want to be sure to draw a distinction between having a conversation and "outrage." I just don't want to be unfairly lumped into the outrage camp. Especially since, as you know, I always make a point of challenging the messages rather than "attacking" people.

Qyakerjono: It is COMPLETELY unfair to say I "took the moment not to encourage, but to lambaste." It seems like maybe you are projecting others' Lowery scrutiny on me. I have nothing but good to say about the man -- but I'm going to speak to the marriage vs. civil unions question. That's all I really did in the post.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Dec 24, 2008 3:20:27 PM


The general problem with all of your posts on this matter is that the anger and indignation is fueled by an obsession over symbology.

The invitation given to Warren is a symbol of the new administration being willing to reach out to the other side of the philosophical isle in order to accomplish goals that we really need to accomplish in this country (dealing with the failing economy and the climate crisis, for instance). Was it a mistake? Probably. Am I angered? Only slightly.

Given then Warren is only saying an at most 2 minute prayer to a god that I don't believe in, I can't summon the energy to give that much of a damn. I'm much more concerned with what Obama is going to do POLICY wise while in office.

But if you want symbology, is it not good enough that he constantly referred to us and our struggle on the campaign trail? Is it not enough that he became the first president EVER to call attention to us in his acceptance speech, something he's quiet likely going to do in his Inaugural Address too?

Beyond all the words and the symbols, do we want somebody who pacifies US with political points (like employing us in the White House) but then turns around and REALLY throws us under the bus not with simple metaphorical symbology but with hard and fast policies like DADT and DOMA (a quite Clintonesque thing to do)?

And now we have to get upset because one of our strongest allies has the "marriage is between a man and a woman" religious belief?

Jeremy, we have an enormous opportunity at this point in history to work with allies like Rev. Lowery to pass federal civil unions legislation (especially with all the gabbery that marriage opponents have been spewing about how they are fine with civil unions).

Is it marriage? No. Is it equal? No. But it WILL reduce the suffering of thousands of our brothers and sisters across the country. We can challenge inequalities as they come and we will eventually reach full equality. This has to be gradual, Jeremy, and part of that gradual movement is changing hearts and minds through reaching out to people, even people like Rick Warren. Stomping our feet and huffing our noses while saying that they "will never change" is tantamount to giving up, and it's something you would NEVER hear somebody like MLK say.

But honestly, you should try and turn by the "snide" meter a little bit. You've spent the last week on your blog (and I'm a loyal reader) rehashing "Rick Warren is a moron" over and over again. If Rick Warren's invitation is not "reaching across the divide", then what IS it? Do you actually thing that Obama and his team are anti-gay? REALLY?

Posted by: Alex | Dec 24, 2008 5:50:48 PM

Calling me snide and boiling my writing down to say that "Rick Warren is a moron" is what I've been presenting on this site, even though I have not once attacked the man (just his message)? Acting as if Obama's positives make him immune from scrutiny when he deals us a negative? Presenting my Lowery post in a way that makes it sounds like I was mouth-foamingly upset with him?

Alex, I don't even know where to begin with all this. And I won't, considering it's Xmas Eve.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Dec 24, 2008 6:02:07 PM

You're also overly defensive. But eh, a Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Posted by: Alex | Dec 24, 2008 8:04:35 PM

I will not, on a personal note, that I had no intention of ruining your holiday and I'm sorry if my comment here caused any amount of anxiety that might have contributed to that :(

Posted by: Alex | Dec 24, 2008 8:04:56 PM

Now wait a minute -- Now you're accusing me of being "overly defensive" because I have engaged you? Alex, this is my web site and my forum -- a professional part of my life that is intimately connected with the personal. Unlike other site operators, I like to take part in the conversation on here. And when one conveys thoughts that I see as incongruous with reality or just plain unfair (and I think there elements of both in your first comment), I am going to say so. That doesn't mean I am "overly defensive," nor does it mean I have taken anything you have said to a personal level (this caused anxiety? ha!). It simply means that I am doing what I do: Challenging my "opposition,' and taking on criticism that I find to be unfair.

Now I'm seriously going to run. I am interrupting an Xmas eve dinner to post this from a mobile device, and that is just too much.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Dec 24, 2008 8:19:59 PM

OK, that's fine. There is quite a difference between engaging in conversation on your own web blog or even defending against what you feel is unfair criticism and what I called being overly defensive.

You picked out anything and everything that could even be close to personal in what I said and you leaped at it, boiling down a lengthy comment in a manner that was quite unfair itself.

In any case, I look forward to continuing this conversation after the holiday, if you would still be interested.

Posted by: Alex | Dec 25, 2008 9:06:49 AM

In all honesty, Jeremy has been pretty cool this week. He has not attacked Warren but has called into question comments made by Warren.

That is the one positive of this entire situation - the fact that Warren has been caught being highly duplicitous in his comments regarding lgbt relationships.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Dec 26, 2008 7:51:29 AM

Alvin: Well I never have to really worry about "attacking," because I have made a deliberate choice to always focus on the message rather than the person. It's always been the guiding spirit of G-A-Y.

I also think the Warren situation will turn into a positive.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Dec 26, 2008 7:54:24 AM

I just find it interesting that Obama's idea of including the other side and coming together does seem to exclude anyone from that inaugural stage who actually supports marriage equality. Where are those inaugural speakers? I haven't heard of any. Where is that side included in this inclusion orgy? Hmmm?

Posted by: Steve | Dec 26, 2008 12:05:56 PM

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