Bishop Gene Robinson to Deliver Prayer at Inauguration's Opening Ceremony
The Right Reverend Gene Robinson, the first openly gay person to be ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church, has been asked by President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural committee to deliver the invocation at the inauguration's opening ceremony, which is being held at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, January 18, and will be the first event attended by the president-elect.
Robinson, whose endorsement of Obama before the New Hampshire primary was considered a big coup for the campaign, has been critical of the controversial selection of Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the president-elect's swearing-in ceremony on the National Mall on January 20. When Robinson heard the news about Warren, who has likened being gay to incest and statutory rape, he said "it was like a slap in the face."
But after the invitation was extended to him, Robinson told New Hampshire's Concord Monitor that his inclusion in the opening event would be incredibly affirming to gay people.
"It's important for any minority to see themselves represented in some way," Robinson said. "Whether it be a racial minority, an ethnic minority, or, in our case, a sexual minority -- just seeing someone like you up front matters."
A spokesman for the inaugural committee told the Monitor that Robinson was given the opportunity to participate in the opening ceremony because of his contribution to the religious community and his efforts on behalf of Obama during the campaign. Robinson also revealed recently that President-elect Obama sought out his counsel and reflections on what it was like to be "a first."
LGBT leaders were quick to trumpet the addition to the ceremony. “Bishop Robinson models what prayer should be -- spiritual reflection put into action for justice,” said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese. “It is encouraging that the president-elect has chosen this spiritual hero for all Americans to lead the nation in prayer at the Lincoln Memorial inaugural concert.” (Kerry Eleveld, Advocate.com)