On Dateline, Curry acknowledges "many constitutional experts say" Warren claim on Prop 8 was "totally unfounded"

››› ››› LILY YAN

In a Dateline NBC report on Rev. Rick Warren, after noting Warren's support for California's Proposition 8, co-host Ann Curry reported that "Warren says he joined the fray out of a concern that if Proposition 8 wasn't passed, pastors would lose their right to preach about the biblical definition of marriage." Curry then added, "But many constitutional experts say that fear was totally unfounded, and gay rights leaders saw Warren's stance as an infringement on their civil rights." Curry had uncritically reported the previous day that Warren "was worried that this Proposition 8 would prevent him from getting up on the pulpit and speaking out against same-sex marriage."

During her December 19 Dateline NBC report on Rev. Rick Warren, after noting Warren's support for California's Proposition 8 -- which amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage -- co-host Ann Curry reported that "Warren says he joined the fray out of a concern that if Proposition 8 wasn't passed, pastors would lose their right to preach about the biblical definition of marriage." Curry then added, "But many constitutional experts say that fear was totally unfounded, and gay rights leaders saw Warren's stance as an infringement on their civil rights." As Media Matters for America documented, while previewing her interview with Warren the day before, Curry uncritically reported that Warren "was worried that this Proposition 8 would prevent him from getting up on the pulpit and speaking out against same-sex marriage," echoing the falsehood that had Proposition 8 not passed, members of the clergy could have been restricted in what they could say in the pulpit and could have been forced to perform same-sex marriages.

In fact, Proposition 8 and the California Supreme Court decision it sought to overturn had nothing to do with members of the clergy, and did not address their actions or speech in any way. As Media Matters has documented, the California Supreme Court itself noted the irrelevance of its decision to clergy, saying in the majority opinion that "no religion will be required to change its policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs."

From the December 19 broadcast of Dateline NBC:

CURRY: Pastor Rick Warren has always take pains to stay above political battles -- that is, until just before this past election, when he took a stand on a bitterly fought ballot initiative banning gay marriage.

[begin video clip]

WARREN: And is with great honor and great humility and respect --

CURRY: Earlier this month at a World AIDS Day event, Pastor Rick Warren gave President Bush a medal for his groundbreaking efforts to end the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

And President-elect Obama appeared via satellite at the same conference.

WARREN: A lot has been done, but there's a lot more to be done.

CURRY: In fact, many AIDS activists say Warren's efforts to fight the disease have been exemplary.

WARREN: I want to alleviate suffering as much as I possibly can.

CURRY: He has given away millions -- 90 percent of his income, he says -- in a worldwide effort to help end disease and poverty and to promote reconciliation.

WARREN: Good. How are you?

CURRY: But in the last two months, some of the goodwill Warren has generated across the social spectrum has been put to the test.

WARREN: I hope you're praying about your vote. One of the propositions --

CURRY: In an Internet video released just before Election Day, Warren urged his followers to vote for California's Proposition 8, which aimed to reverse a ruling by the California Supreme Court allowing same-sex marriage.

WARREN: If you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8.

CURRY: Warren says he joined the fray out of a concern that if Proposition 8 wasn't passed, pastors would lose their right to preach about the biblical definition of marriage. But many constitutional experts say that fear was totally unfounded, and gay rights leaders saw Warren's stance as an infringement on their civil rights.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Equal rights.

CURRY: After Proposition 8 passed, same-sex marriage supporters converged on the entrance to Warren's Saddleback Church.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The church is against it -- that's fine, that's their -- but they shouldn't be taking over state issues, and that's what they are doing right now.

CURRY: And this week, when President-elect Obama named Warren to deliver the opening prayer at the inauguration, the controversy flared up again. The president of the gay rights group, Human Rights Campaign, wrote a letter to Obama saying Warren's selection "tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table."

DAVID SMITH (Human Rights Campaign): This selection is so disrespectful of a constituency which the president-elect has embraced and has included in his campaign.

CURRY: Some people in the gay community wonder why you supported Prop 8 --

WARREN: Sure, sure.

CURRY: Why you supported taking away their right to love each other --

WARREN: Sure.

CURRY: -- in marriage.

WARREN: Well, that's --

CURRY: In marriage.

WARREN: Yeah. Well, I'm not taking away their right to love each other --

CURRY: In marriage.

WARREN: I am opposed to the redefinition of marriage. First place -- to me, it was a free speech issue, foremost of all. First place, I don't know any church in America that's done more to help the gay community, particularly with AIDS, than Saddleback.

CURRY: And in fact, gay people will say that is true.

WARREN: Yeah. And my wife and I have given millions of dollars to help people --

CURRY: -- which is why they are so hurt.

WARREN: Yeah.

CURRY: Why many gay people are so hurt.

WARREN: Yeah. Yeah.

CURRY: -- because of their faith and reverence for what you have done in this issue.

WARREN: Yeah.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, LGBTQ
Network/Outlet
NBC
Person
Ann Curry
Show/Publication
Dateline NBC
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