Openly gay speaker appeared at inauguration

One person who spoke to the hundreds of thousands at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday was the Rev. Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal Bishop whose ordination created a rift in his church.

The problem was, no one on TV saw it, as it was not included as part of HBO’s televised coverage. In fact, shortly after he finished his prayer, the HBO logo with its booming theme music was beamed across the screens for the masses, signalling showtime.

The irony is that Robinson had helped diffuse another flap. After Barack Obama endured a wave of criticism in the gay community for selecting the Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the swearing in ceremony, his inaugural committee announced that Robinson would deliver a prayer at the kickoff.

“Another red flag for the gays, and the guy isn’t even in office yet,” writes Patrick McDonald of the LA Weekly blog Queertown. Other criticism came on Towleroad and AfterElton.

Josh Earnest, communications director for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said in a statement: “We had always intended and planned for Rt. Rev. Robinson’s invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday’s program. We regret the error in executing this plan – but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event.”

Given the sheer reverence given to Obama, Robinson may also have helped him out in tempering expectations — something that will be critical in the First Hundred Days.

Robinson said in his prayer, “Our president is a human being and not a messiah.”

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