The founding members of the newly formed Atlanta Black LGBT Organization is calling on Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center to rescind their invitation to controversial evangelical pastor Rick Warren. Warren is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observance in Atlanta on January 19.
In a press release sent to loldarian.com by founding Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition member and veteran activist Craig Washington, the group states- "Rev Warren's hateful opposition to civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and reproductive rights for women, and his intolerance of diversity contradict the values of freedom and equality that this day represents. Bestowing Rev. Warren such a prominent role does not foster greater understanding between divided communities. Instead it drives more wedges between disenfranchised communities that are continually pitted against each other by the agents of racism and homophobia. In effect it enables oppression and implies that there are still some peole acceptable to hate".
The controversy surrounding President-Elect Barack Obama's choice to invite Warren to deliver the invocation at his Presidential Inauguration still has many in the gay community as well as numerous ardent Obama supporters seeing red. It's baffling to many that a candidate who promised to "bridge the divide" and unite the country after 8 years of clear division would choose to give a national platform to such a divisive figure who has compared gay relationships to "incest and pedophilia".
According to an interview given to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, King Center spokesperson Isaac Farris said Warren was invited to speak last May long before the Obama Inauguration controversy erupted. The center chose him in part because of his getting evangelicals working to solve social problems such as poverty, he said.
The King family members are divided over gay rights. Coretta Scott King, King’s wife, advocated for equal rights for gay men and lesbians before her death in 2006. The Kings’ youngest child, Bernice King, in 2004 led an Atlanta march calling for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. It's also important to remember Dr. King's close relationship with Bayard Rustin, an openly gay black man who organized the March on Washington where King gave his famous I Have A Dream Speech.
The Atlanta Black LGBT Coalition are encouraging Reverend Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and The King Center "to correct this dangerous mistake while there is still time".