posted on January 23, 2009 13:44
Professor David Steinmetz of Duke Divinity School says it is a very good idea that President Obama invited both a minister in favor of gay marriage and a minister opposed to it to pray during his inauguration – the way he sees it Obama is helping heal the nation’s wounds, end divisions, and most of all serving the ‘common good’ – an “ideal lost in the culture wars… of the last 20 years.”
Now harmonizing and singing Cumbayah on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for the common good is a pretty seductive picture. But the issue here isn’t tolerance, it’s legitimacy. It’s that, politically, gay rights advocates screamed bloody murder when Obama invited a California minister opposed to gay marriage to pray at his inauguration. So, Obama invited a gay Episcopal Bishop to pray too to confer an equal amount of legitimacy on them – which certainly sounds nice and even handed.
That is, if you’ve got an odd sort of idea that somehow both sides are correct on gay marriage. Otherwise it’s hard to see how legitimizing both makes any kind of sense. After all, how can one of those ministers say to the other, Well, you’re dead wrong but I’m sure happy you’re here today getting legitimized too?
And that’s the sticking point.
Professor Steinmetz says Obama offering an aura of legitimacy to both sides serves the common good and, granted, that’s not the same as Obama saying gay marriage is right or wrong – but, politically, it has a meaning too. It’s like saying, Well, some of my friends are for it and some of my friends are against it and I’m with my friends.
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