Outside Ebenezer Church, gay rights activists protest
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Monday, January 19, 2009
Dozens of gay activists protested the Rev. Rick Warren’s speech Monday at the Martin Luther King Jr. commemorative services outside Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Gathering at the corner of Jackson Street and Auburn Avenue, they hoisted signs declaring: “We still have a dream: Equality.” And they chanted: “Gay, straight, black or white, we demand our civil rights.”
Warren, a best-selling author and the pastor of an evangelical mega church in California, helped rally support in California to outlaw same-sex marriage.
“Rick Warren is not a voice of unity or equality,” said Jeff Schade, director of GLBTATL, which stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Atlanta.
Kristin Cole, a spokeswoman for Warren, said the pastor would not comment before the inauguration. Cole, however, confirmed Warren’s church believes “homosexuality is a sin” and that he urged his parishioners to support Proposition 8 in California, which amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage. At the same time, Cole pointed to Warren’s work helping HIV patients in the United States and Africa.
Isaac Farris Jr., president of the King Center, introduced Warren at Ebenezer and urged critics to listen to the pastor. The center invited Warren to speak at Ebenezer last May, long before the Obama controversy erupted, Farris said last month. He was chosen, Farris said, partly because of his efforts to help solve social problems, including poverty. King served as co-pastor of Ebenezer along with his father, Martin Luther King Sr.
Warren, a Southern Baptist, is pastor to the Saddleback Church in Southern California. He wrote the multimillion-copy selling “The Purpose Driven Life,” a Christian manifesto.
Just as Warren began to speak, Sunsara Taylor, who identified herself as a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party, stood up in the audience and held a banner calling Warren a bigot, shouting: “No common ground with bigot Rick Warren.” Ushers quickly escorted her out of the church.