President-elect Barack Obama infuriated gays and lesbians across the country when he named Rick Warren, founder of evangelical megachurch Saddleback Church, to give the premier prayer at his inauguration. Warren is known for his ultraconservative views and is especially incendiary about gays and lesbians.
Warren compared the “redefinition of a marriage” to include gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy during the battle over California’s Proposition 8.
A group called Driving Equality is trying to turn Warren’s time at the podium into a positive for the gay and lesbian community by hosting a “Rick-a-thon.” The group is taking pledges to raise money for each second Warren is speaking.
“Rick Warren, a staunch opponent of equal rights for LGBT people, has used his pulpit to spread lies about LGBT families and to raise money for anti-gay legislation, such as proposition 8, which stripped equal marriage rights away from same-sex couples,” the group said in a statement. “When Warren takes the stage on Inauguration Day, however, he will be raising thousands of dollars to advance LGBT equality across the country.”
Donors can choose to pledge a nickle, dime or more for every second Warren speaks during the inauguration. The money will be used by Driving Equality in its “trek across America to raise awareness of the various forms of discrimination faced by LGBT people in each state of the nation. Highlighting the differences in rights, laws, and amendments between the states will shed light on the current social standing of queer individuals today. I hope to create a dialogue about the disparities across the nation, and what can be done to end discrimination for all,” according to it Web site.
The group held a similar successful “Phelps-a-thon” when Fred Phelps and his followers protested a production of “The Laramie Project” in Boston. Driving Equality counter-protested, updating a tote board every five minutes, generating cheers. Online pledges and checks from passers-by during the protest added up to over $4,600 towards the groups goal of $25,000 for the trek.
More information can be found at rick-a-thon.com and drivingequality.com