debbie millman

Friday, December 19, 2008

Letter from NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, re: Selection of Rick Warren for Inaugural Invocation

Emmett Beliveau
Executive Director
Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009 Washington, D.C. 20599
December 18, 2008

Dear Mr. Beliveau:

I write to express my profound objection to the selection of Rick Warren to perform the invocation at President-elect Obama’s inauguration.

Pastor Warren is publicly and rabidly committed to denying same-sex couples the right to civil marriage, and all of the rights and responsibilities that civil marriage provides. Yet what is so offensive here is not the mere selection of a religious leader who is opposed to same-sex marriage. It is the selection of a man who has used his position to try to deny others their civil rights, and to create huge divisions among Americans.

In his acceptance speech, President-elect Obama called on all Americans to come together for the good of the country. The message of divisiveness and hatred preached by Pastor Warren stands in direct contrast to the President-elect’s call.

The choice of a minister to perform the invocation at the inauguration is a highly visible role, and an honor. While I understand, indeed support, the need for all Americans to come together, regardless of our individual positions on varying issues, I don’t believe the President-elect or the Inaugural Committee should be elevating to the inaugural stage someone who is actively seeking to deny the civil rights of millions of Americans.

To the President-elect’s credit, this year’s election reflected a historic level of involvement on the part of the LGBT community, and has raised great hopes for the future of our community. Choosing Rick Warren for this role threatens to denigrate what should be the beginning of a new era of promise and equality.

Warren’s selection is an insult, not only to LGBT Americans, but to all those who have ever fought for civil rights. I urge the Inaugural Committee to replace Rev. Warren with a religious leader who actually embodies President-elect Obama’s promise of hope and change, and his promise of a country united.


Christine C. Quinn

Speaker, New York City Council

Sent from:
Anthony Hogrebe
Deputy Press Secretary
New York City Council


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Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for over 25 years. She is President of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has been there for nearly 15 years and in that time she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s, Colgate, Nestle and Hasbro. Prior to Sterling, she was a Senior Vice President at Interbrand and a Marketing Director at Frankfurt Balkind. Debbie is President of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design. She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at and Brand New and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting the first weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet. The show is titled “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” and it is now featured on In addition to “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design,” (HOW Books, 2009, she is the author of "How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer" (Allworth Press, 2007) and “The Essential Principles of Graphic Design” (Rotovision, 2008).

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