Gay Bishop Will Give Invocation At Inaugural Kickoff Event



(AP Photo/Judi Bottoni)
Evangelical Rev. V. Gene Robinson, whose election as the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop in 2003 resulted in debate and division in the Episcopal community, will deliver the invocation at an event kicking off inauguration week at the Lincoln Memorial.

President-elect Barack Obama will attend the free, Sunday afternoon event, which will feature musical performances by Bono, Bruce Springsteen and many others.

"The president-elect has respect for the Rt. Rev. Robinson, who offered his advice and counsel over the past couple of years," an inaugural official told Politico. "It also has the benefit of further reinforcing our commitment to an open and inclusive inaugural."

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Some gay rights advocates have questioned that commitment in light of the selection of evangelical pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Mr. Obama's swearing in. Warren backed California Prop. 8, the anti-gay marriage measure whose passage galvanized the gay rights community.

An Obama source denied to Politico that Robinson was brought on to appease angry gay rights activists.

"Robinson was in the plans before the complaints about Rick Warren," the source said. "Many skeptics will read this as a direct reaction to the Warren criticism — but it's just not so."