Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Melissa Etheridge On Rick Warren!

Melissa Etheridge

Oscar and Grammy Award-Winning Singer/Songwriter

Posted December 22, 2008 | 05:10 PM (EST)

The Choice Is Ours Now

This is a message
for my brothers and sisters who have fought so long and so hard for gay
and liberty. We have spent a long time climbing up this mountain,
looking at
the impossible, chang ing a thousand year-old paradigm. We have asked
for the
right to love the human of our choice, and to be protected equally
under the
law s of this great country. The road at times has been so bloody, and so
horrible, and so disheartening. From being blamed for 9/11 and Katrina,
hateful crimes committed against us,=2
0we are battle wear y. We watched as
nation took a step in the right direction, aga inst all odds and elected
Obama as our next leader. Then we we re jerked back into the last
century as we
watched our rights taken a way by prop 8 in California. Still sore and
angry we
felt another sla p in the face as the man we helped get elected seemingly
invited a gay-h ater to address the world at his inauguration.

I hadn't heard of Pas tor Rick Warren before all of this. When
I heard the news, in its neat little sound bite form that we are so
to, it painted th e picture for me. This Pastor Rick must surely be one
spouting , money grabbing, bad hair televangelist like all the others. He
pro bably has his own gay little secret bathroom stall somewhere, you
know . One
more hater working up his congregation to hate the gays, compari ng us to
pedophiles and those who commit incest, blah blah blah. Same 'ole
thing. Would
I be boycotting the inauguration? Would we be march ing again?

Well, I have to
tell you my friends, the universe has a sense of humor and indeed works
mysterious ways. As I was wi nding down the promotion for my Christmas
album I
had one more stop l ast night. I'd agreed to play a song I'd written
with my
friend Salma n Ahmed, a Sufi Muslim from Pakistan. The song is called
The Bells," and it's a call for peace and unity in our world. We were
g to perform our song for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a
gro up of
Muslim Americans that tries to raise awareness in this country, and the
about the majority of good, loving, Muslims. I was honored, considering
some in
the Muslim religion consider singin g to be against God, while other
countries have harsh penalt ies, even death for homosexuals. I felt it
was a
very brave gesture for them to make. I received a call the day before
to inform
me of t he keynote speaker that night... Pastor Rick Warren. I was
stunned. Myfight or flight instinct took over, should I cancel? Then a calm voice< BR>inside
me said, "Are you really about peace or not?"

I told my manager
to reach out to Pastor Warren and say "In the spirit of unity I would
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
he told me what a fan he was. He had most of m y 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
everyone. He beli eved every loving relationship should have equal
He strug gled 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 in20his video message to his congregation
p roposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest.
H e said
that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited m e to his
I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his
struggle with breast cancer just a year bef ore mine.

When we met later
that night, he entered the room wit h open arms and an open heart. We
agreed to
build bridges to the futu re.

Brothers and
sisters the choice is ours now. We have the worl d's attention. We have
capability to create change, awesome cha nge in this world, but before
we change
minds we must change hearts . Sure, there are plenty of hateful people
who will
always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket. But there
are also
good p eople out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to
They don't hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we con sider
marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands.
instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer
for one
of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for
causes all around the world.

Maybe if they get
to know us, they won't fear us.

I know, ca ll me a
dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.

I will be att ending
the inauguration with my family,
and with hope in my heart. I know we
headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for

Happy Holidays my
friends and a Happy New Year to you.

Peace on earth,
goodwill toward all me n and women... and everyone in-between.

No comments: