SOME OF HIS BEST FRIENDS ARE GAY…. We talked a couple of weeks ago about why pastor Rick Warren’s reputation for being more reasonable and moderate than this religious right brethren may be unearned. At the time, the subject was his endorsement — on Biblical grounds — of Sean Hannity’s assertion that the United States needs to “take out” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

We got another reminder this week, when Warren sat down with Beliefnet’s Steven Waldman, and the subject turned to Warren’s opposition to gay rights. Warren rejected any notion that he might be homophobic, pointing to his work combating AIDS and his willingness to have dinner in “gay homes.”

Sarah Posner noted how unpersuasive Warren’s arguments were.

Warren dodged Waldman’s question about whether he supported civil unions or domestic partnerships, answering instead, “I support full equal rights for everyone in America,” adding that he only opposes a “redefinition” of marriage. He went on to say he’s opposed to gay marriage the same way he is opposed to a brother and sister marrying (that would be incest), a man marrying a child (that would be statutory rape), or someone having multiple spouses (that would be polygamy). Pressed by Waldman, Warren said he considered those crimes equivalent to gay marriage.

Warren claimed he supported Proposition 8 because of a free-speech issue — asserting that “any pastor could be considered doing hate speech … if he shared his views that homosexuality wasn’t the most natural way for relationships.”

If Warren could come up with a principled explanation for his beliefs, fine. But this is utterly foolish. There was nothing in Prop 8 — indeed, there’s never been anything in any U.S. measure on marriage equality — that would have permitted punishing religious leaders for espousing their beliefs on gay rights or any other issue.

I obviously can’t read Warren’s mind, but if he knows, as he should, that this argument is demonstrably false, his remarks were dishonest. If he was sincere and simply didn’t know what he was talking about, Warren’s opposition to a worthwhile ballot measure was based on ignorance.

Whether he’s eaten in “gay homes” or not is of no consequence.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.