Obama asks Gene Robinson, first openly gay bishop, to give Easter prayer at White House

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the history of Christendom, was pleasantly surprised on Monday morning. During the fifth annual White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, President Obama asked Bishop Robinson to give an impromptu blessing at the event's close.

Before calling on the bishop, Obama told the crowd, "I want to thank you for your ministries, for your good works for the marching you do for justice, and dignity and inclusion."

The event is attended by 150 Christian clergy members and lay leaders with varied stances on equality for the LGBT community. Bishop Robinson, for years, has been an active advocate for and symbol of affirming, inclusive, and socially conscious religious communities and policy changes. In addition to the documentary Love Free or Die, speaking at the President's 2009 inauguration, and his recent article for The Daily Beast, Bishop Robinson can now add his prayer at the White House to the list of ways in which he's been a leading advocate in the Anglican Church and beyond.

The Prayer Breakfast marked the beginning of Holy Week, during which Christians prepare for the coming of Easter to celebrate new life. A Seder is being held at the White House today in recognition of Passover.