When the announcement came that openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson was tapped to lead the prayer of invocation for the opening inaugural event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at 2:00 p.m. on January 18, The Associated Press article was published in hundreds of news outlets across the country and around the globe, from France to the Philippines.
It was not long ago that President-elect Obama faced heavy criticism from LGBT advocacy groups and leaders for his selection of conservative evangelist Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation. GLAAD issued a statement, and also published clips of Warren’s previous media statements on LGBT issues.
Obama defended his choice as part of his commitment to diverse voices at his inauguration, and pointed to the closing prayer invitation of straight ally, The Reverend Joseph Lowery, a United Methodist and veteran Civil Rights activist. Lowery is a signer on the Methodist statement of “People of Color for an All Inclusive Church.”
Robinson’s prayer at an opening inaugural event in front of the Lincoln Memorial is a powerful reminder of this country’s efforts to move toward freedom and equality for all. Change is possible.
When Bishop Robinson was interviewed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer recently, he reflected on church support of his ministry and said, “There is great excitement in my heart to be living in a time when the church is starting to get it right.” We can only imagine that he may have been thinking that the country is starting to get it right, too.