I support the right of gay people to marry.  I am pro-choice. And I am no fan of most of the perspectives espoused by Rick Warren, pastor of the conservative Christian Saddleback Church in California. 

And so perhaps it will surprise you to know that despite my initial dismay, I emphatically support President-elect Barack Obama's selection of Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration ceremony. The Baltimore Sun today published a commentary by Katha Pollit, a columnist for The Nation, speculated that Sen. John McCain, had he won, would never have chosen a prayer giver so on the fringes and so unappetizing to his fellow Republicans.

But one of the reasons I voted for Obama was precisely that he was not likely to make the same choices as McCain, who might have been tempted to cater to the Republican right-wing conservatives often labeled as the party’s base. I greatly admire Obama’s willingness to engage in authentic conversations with people whose viewpoints differ so radically from his. 

And it’s heartening to see people like singer, gay-rights and peace activist Melissa Etheridge and theRev. Al Sharpton, share my views, because they have true cause to be furious about Obama’s choice.

My personal belief is that putting preconditions on "building bridges" -- wherever they need to be built –- is no way to go. (Jamie and I addressed this issue in the Chicago Tribune op-ed  piece that we authored last week.)

I wish more Americans, myself included, had the courage to engage in honest dialogue with those with whom they seemingly have little in common.