After Rick Warren Flap, Gay Episcopal Bishop Tapped for Obama Inauguration

Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson will give invocation at inauguration week kickoff.


The Episcopal Café has gotten word that the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man to be ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church—provoking a national rift in the church—has been invited by Barack Obama to give the invocation to kick off at inauguration week. The symbolism here is obvious: Obama's invitation to Rick Warren to give the invocation on Inauguration Day triggered a firestorm of criticism in the gay community because of Warren's disapproval of homosexuality and his advocacy against gay rights measures. The question is whether the gay community will accept this gesture as ample recompense. Robinson, for his part, sounds like he does: 

It is also an indication of the new president's commitment to being the President of ALL the people. I am humbled and overjoyed at this invitation, and it will be my great honor to be there representing the Episcopal Church, the people of New Hampshire, and all of us in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. 

I'll be checking in with gay rights groups today to gauge whether other leaders are as ebullient. Picking Warren and Robinson, Obama is trying to satisfy two constituencies that are often diametrically opposed to one another. Rick Warren has gone so far as to invite conservative Episcopal parishes that have left the mother church over their objections to Robinson's ordination to meet on the grounds of his Southern California church, Saddleback. But because the inaugural events are purely ceremonial—which is not to say unimportant—why wouldn't he be able to pull it off?