Gene Robinson’s Invocation Shoved Into HBO’s Closet
January 18th, 2009
When the Obama Inaugural committee announced that the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop, would deliver the invocation at the “We Are The One” concert at the Lincoln Memorial, it was seen as an olive branch to the gay community, still seething over the selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation for the Inauguration itself.
The announcement that Rick Warren was selected came just days after Warren compared gay relationships to incest, child rape and polygamy. But by pointing out that Rev. Robinson’s invocation would come at the start of the HBO-aired live concert in front of one of America’s best-loved memorials, this high-profile announcement was portrayed as a separate-but-almost-equal bookend to Warren’s invocation at the Capital steps.
Well, except it turned out not to be nearly so equal. In yet another deep insult to injury, HBO did not air Rev. Robinson’s invocation. The salve to the gay community meant to calm the outrage over Warren’s selection was for naught. Hundreds of millions around the world will hear Warren’s invocation on Tuesday. But today, the only ones to hear Rev. Robinson’s prayer were those thousands who were present at the mall. Robinson’s prayer wasn’t aired live, nor was it aired during the 7:00 p.m. rebroadcast.
And guess what else was shoved into the closet? The D.C. Gay Men’s Chorus singing with Josh Groban. Unlike every other performer, they came and went without being identified.
These snubs are inexcusable. Did HBO cave in the face of conservative outcries over Rev. Robinson’s selection for this event? Did the Inaugural committee rush Rev. Robinson onstage and off before the broadcast was slated to begin? Whatever the case may be, this is a cold slap. HBO has some serious explaining to do, as does the Inaugural committee.
Harvey Milk is screaming in his metaphorical grave right now.
Update: HBO says they’re not to blame for Rev. Robinson’s omission.
Here is the text of the missing, closeted invocation.
A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire
Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.
O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…
Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.
Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.
And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.
Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.
Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.
Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.
Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.
Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.
And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.