Obama vs. The Left: A Fight He Wants?

By Jennifer Parker

Dec 18, 2008 11:34am

ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: President-elect Barack Obama’s selection of Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration has ignited a firestorm of criticism from the gay-rights community, where Warren is considered something of a sworn enemy.  Yet Obama’s response to a question about his selection of Warren seems to confirm one perception: that this is a fight that the president-elect isn’t necessarily sorry to be having. “It is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans,” Obama said Thursday at a press conference in Chicago. “What I’ve also said is that it is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues. . . . That’s how it should be, because that’s what America is about.” The fight is an offshoot of a continuing struggle Obama has had with his left flank. His relationship with liberals in the Democratic Party has long stopped just this side of adulation, and some prominent gay-rights leaders have been skeptical about how aggressively he’s committed to their agenda. Still, from an incoming administration that seems very much committed to governing from the center, could it be that this is a fight that is welcomed? The battle comes at a time where the gay-rights community is particularly energized and ready for a fight, in the wake of the California ballot initiative that passed — with Warren’s support — banning gay marriage. But to a centrist audience, including social conservatives, the choice of Warren could be perceived as a conciliatory gesture — Obama making good on his promises to reach across the aisle.

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