Monday, December 29, 2008

Inaugural Honors for Rev. Joseph Lowery

In recent weeks there has been much hub-bub over the announcement of President Elect Obama's choice of Pastor Rick Warren to lead the invocation at the January 20th inauguration. And while that controversy continues to rage, little has been said about Obama's choice of Rev. Joseph Lowery to offer the benediction.

Rev. Lowery is an esteemed United Methodist clergyperson who has spent his life struggling for the civil rights of all people. In 1957, Lowery co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Revs Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth and Ralph David Abernathy. Just a few years later he was appointed assistant to the Bishop in Nashville and led efforts to desegregate the local hotels and restaurants. In 1965, he was asked by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to deliver the demands of the Selma to Montgomery march to Governor Wallace and in 1968 as pastor of an Atlanta congregation he led efforts by faith communities to build affordable and low income housing. And, this is just a small sample of the long list of accomplishments on Rev. Lowery's resume!

Over his lifetime, Lowery has been a tireless advocate for the civil rights of all people...including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. In fact, Rev. Lowery was the first person at Coretta Scott King's funeral to mention her support for the LGBT community, reminding the congregation that King "frowned on homophobia." Although stopping short of advocating for same-sex marriage, Lowery himself has come out in support for the full civil rights of gay and lesbian folks. In a statement to the Southern Voice he said,
"I support civil rights for all citizens and this includes gay and lesbians citizens. I support civil unions and full benefits (visitation, insurance, etc) for partners in same sex relationships...I am strongly opposed to propositions or amendments that put into law any discrimination against citizens because of sexual orientation."
While the anger and disappointment at Warren's selection still stings, I have to wonder what would happen if instead of controversy, all Warren received was silence. Indeed, Lowery himself speculated in an article in the Washington Blade that "By the time Aretha sings, the poem is read, people may have already forgotten what Warren said.”

And that very well may be true.


will j. green said...

Thank you for the focus this post brings. I'm going to learn more about Lowery and then have something useful to share when asked about the inauguration.

Anonymous said...

How dare him....He said a predjudice thing about whites; many of whom voted for Obama. I long for the day we see people as humans and not as color, gender or other grouping for people. He is a racist; he is ignorant and speaks on the wrong side for the "Human Race"...So, you Socialists enjoy for now...Real Americans will take back this country and treat people with respect that is earned and not given because someone is shown tom be a victum.

Anonymous said...

Huh??? What "prejudiced thing" about what people did he say, and when? Racist?? Talk about ignorance!