Melissa Etheridge Probably Not a Traitor

They say all revolutions eat their young and I’m not sure we should be throwing Melissa Etheridge under the bus just yet. Post-Prop. 8, she’s been one of the loudest and most public voices in explaining to everyday Americans why marriage equality is important, bringing her message to Oprah and The View. She refuses to pay taxes until she gets marriage equality. The battle for equal rights has many fronts and many tactics. Etheridge wants to build bridges between the gay community and potential allies and seeing as we are and always will be a minority, this is important and vital work.

That said, Melissa Etheridge’s praise of Pastor Rick Warren is unwarranted.

She writes in HuffPo:

“I told my manager to reach out to Pastor Warren and say “In the spirit of unity I would like to talk to him.” They gave him my phone number. On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn’t sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn’t want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays.”

Melissa, you’re being hoodwinked. Just today, Rev. Warren unrepentantly defended his comparisons of gays and lesbians to people who commit incest and pedophiles. He may have invited you to his church, but until the page was taken down, Saddleback’s website said that you would not be welcome. He is most assuredly not taking responsibility for his statements and he owes the gay community a public apology. It ought to be the first thing out of his mouth at the inauguration, but just because Rev. Warren likes your C.D.’s and is nice to your face doesn’t change the fact that behind your back he is working to undo your rights.

I’ve had the opportunity to interview and speak with dozens of pastors in my career and each and every one of them have been unflaggingly nice to me in person, despite many of having made their name by spewing hate-filled homophobic invective from the pulpit. I’ve had pastors tell me with a smile on their face that, though it pains them to say so, I am damned to hell. It’s important to meet with people who seek to marginalize or dismiss you, but because we must challenge their beliefs. It can be done civilly and respectfully, but until bigots realize the harm they are doing to the lives of their fellow men, you have to keep at it. It’s a shame that Etheridge, instead of falling for Waren’s charms, used the opportunity to question some of his beliefs.

But don’t blame her. As we’ve seen, Rev. Warren is a two-faced pastor who will lie to cover his ass. Rev. Warren has fooled Melissa Etheridge once. Shame on him. If he does it again, then the shame will be hers.