Smith: Loud, Proud and Wrong

Harry Smith doesn't much like debate. And he doesn't know what constitutes a civil right. On Dec.19, the CBS Early Show host invited guests to debate Obama's selection of Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration, but interjected his own misinformed view on gay marriage.

Rick Warren, Obama's pick to give the invocation at his inauguration, is a well-known pastor and outspoken critic of gay marriage. Obama's selection of Warren has angered liberals who support gay marriage (and Obama). To get some perspective, Smith hosted a debate between a Dallas pastor and friend of Warren, and David Corn, the former Washington editor of The Nation magazine.

Dr. Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, defended Warren's views on gay marriage saying, “…it's just unbelievable to think that because Rick Warren believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman, somehow that characterizes him as a hatemonger and makes him unfit to pray at the inauguration.” It was here that Smith began talking over Jeffress to proclaim, “Well excuse me, excuse me but this is a serious civil rights issue in this country.”

Civil rights issue? Miriam-Webster defines civil rights as “the nonpolitical rights of a citizen ; especially : the rights of personal liberty guaranteed to United States citizens by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution and by acts of Congress.” The 13th and 14th amendments deal with the issues of slavery and citizenship, not gay rights.

According to a November 8 Los Angeles Times article, gay marriage is not a civil rights issue even for many African Americans. A 50-year old Los Angeles resident, Christopher Hill said he was “motivated by religion in supporting Proposition 8.” To him, civil rights “are about getting a job, employment,” where as gay marriage is an “abomination against God.”

Erin Brown is an intern at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.