Gene Robinson’s Invocation Shoved Into HBO’s Closet

Jim Burroway

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.


Lloyd Phillips

January 18th, 2009

I was at the national mall for the concert, about 1/2 a mile from the Lincoln Memorial, and the moment Gene Robinson took to the stage, the speakers went out. We couldn’t hear a word of the entire invocation. Of course minutes before when Elmo was on the jumbotrons speaking about unity, everything was fine. The moment the gay bishop takes to the stage suddenly there is technical issues. Of course when I get home I find out that HBO cut Gene Robinson from the footage. It’s really horrible and sad. I really don’t think it was a “day of unity” for everyone.


January 18th, 2009

While I think it’s entirely likely that someone chose to ignore the prayer because it’s not as interesting to people who tuned in to hear Beyoncé and Bono (or whoever was performing), or because some über-conservative running things deliberately slighted the GLBT demographic, it’s also likely that there was some technical glitch that HBO just didn’t report to its audience. Let’s hear from the network what happened before getting all bent out of shape.

The Werewolf Prophet

January 18th, 2009

Small correction – none of the choruses were identified except the Naval Academy Glee Club, which was identified not by the sonorous announcer, but by the person speaking just prior / interspersed with them.

There were several terrific chorus groups and I’d like to have known who they were, but all were slighted equally (with the noted exception), so this was not specifically homophobic.


January 18th, 2009

One of the main reasons I was Tivoing the concert was to see Bishop Robinson’s invocation and as great as all the musical acts were, it didn’t make up for the obvious exclusion of the Bishop from the broadcast. I could not believe that they chose to leave his portion of the event unaired, but after that I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that they neglected to even identify the Gay Men’s Chorus. Pathetic!

I’ll be calling HBO’s comment line tomorrow and letting them know just what I thought of their “We Are One” broadcast.

louise jongewaard

January 18th, 2009

We were so excited and waiting for Bishop Gene Robinson’s invocation on Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial. We have since gotten a copy off the web, but are so sad that the world did not have the opportunity to hear Robinson’s marvelous and thoughtful prayer. It was so heartfelt and complete in addressing our nation and the world.
We need a great deal of that kind of wisdom, enabling us to grow into the world in which we will live and share.Louise Jongewaard

David C.

January 18th, 2009

Just in case gentle readers here had forgotten, HBO is a premium television programming subsidiary of Time Warner.

Some of us might recall that Time-Warner was one of the significant contributors to the No-on-8 campaign in California.

I, like JT above, would suggest that we look for some details to emerge before passing judgement.

Bud Evans

January 18th, 2009

NEWSFLASH — Just in… it seems that Roy and Silo, the two Gay chinstrap penguins from the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan are to be reunited and flown to the South Pole after officials on the Obama transition team gave them permission to hold a pre-inaugural ceremony and prayer for Obama in Antarctica.

These Gay love birds have been carefully chosen to be joint Masters of Ceremony at this glorious celebration commemorating our new Fuhrer. And like Bishop Robinson‘s egg-hunt at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, this event will also be held several days before the “real” inauguration, and far enough away, so as not to generate too much press attention and stress for the incoming Obama administration.

The theme of this occasion, as well as the Ball following it (which was generously arranged by the HRC at the South Pole) will be titled: “Out of Sight; Out of Mind In Our New Obama Nation”.

Rainbow-colored leg-warmers and sequined purple parkas are being furnished, free of charge, by Uncle Tom’s Fashion Wear; while the US Military has volunteered to fly in and to air-drop guests at the event (parachutes, of course, are optional).

Entertainment will be provided by Ellen DeGeneres doing her famous “Step ‘em, Fetch it” dance routine to be taped and telecasted later for her post-menopausal hetero plantation mamas; while music will be furnished by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir which will be handing out magic underwear and free “sexual re-orientation” tickets to heaven after the event.

Finally, refreshments will consist of good old fashion Jim Jones Kool-Aid — complements of both the Democratic and Republican Members of the House and the Senate.

A great time is expected to be had by all.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

UPDATE: All major news-outlets did not report on this event either, because Brittany Spears was spotted getting out of her car not wearing underwear again. Meanwhile, HBO is trying desperately to deny rumors that Gay writers, directors and actors are responsible for their most successful cable TV series, past and present, (i.e. True Blood, Six Feet Under, etc.). It seems that a rebellion by the GLBT slaves on the Entertainment Plantation has been averted. Corporate Media GLBT blackout has restored invisibility regarding the insurrectionists. The Job security weapon was efficiently used for GLBT crowd control.

Now for the weather report:
The political forecast for incoming President Obama: Sunny and Status Quo with intermitted ass-kissing; precipitated by White Guilt.

And for the GLBT community: Cloudy with continuing irrelevancy.

…That is all — for now.

~ Bud Evans


January 18th, 2009

Thanks, Bud. Just when I thought this post couldn’t get any more ridiculous and drama-queenish (the speakers were shorted out? Really?) you step it up a notch. Good show.


January 18th, 2009

I am PISSSSSSSED……. HBO was the sole media outlet for the Inaugural Concert. They eliminated the opening ceremony and the opening prayer.

With so much controversy over the bigot Warren invocation during the inauguration on Tuesday, and the subsequent adding of gay Bishop Gene Robinson to open the inaugural activities with a speech and a prayer. It was horrifying to me that HBO chose not to air or recognize the opening prayer on their broadcast.

They further acknowledged Josh Groban and Heather Headley when each entered and appeared on stage with subtitled introduction and ignored that they were singing in front of the Gay Men’s Chorus. HBO couldn’t even acknowledge them. They should have recognized all of the chorus’s that sang.

When there is only one source to a media event, there needs to be fair and impartial editing and there should be full recognition.

I am horrified that once again “WE” are to stay in the background, ignored and unrecognized.

I am canceling my HBO service. I EXPECT AN APOLOGY from Barack Obama to all Gay people.

This is not an acceptable CONSOLATION PRIZE.

Gary Cozette

January 18th, 2009

What a huge disappointment.

I was so proud to be seated for the historic opening minutes of the HBO broadcast at a local café bar near my Chicago home to hear Rev. Robinson open the Inaugural concert, I was very exited to be part of this historic moment when the first ever African American president of the Untied States and his family hear the words of the out gay Episcopal Bishop to open the official Inaugural program.

As a gay man married last August in California to my partner of 19 years, I had been deeply grateful and reassured about the integrity of Mr. Obama by his invitation to Bishop Robinson to offer this opening prayer launching Inaugural celebrations on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This created a fair and reasonable olive branch to the anti-gay Rev. Rick Warren’s scheduled Invocation prayer at Tuesday’s main event – the Inauguration ceremony.

As the HBO coverage began, I saw the Obama family walking onto the stage and taking their seats. But rather than Bishop Robinson, the announcer welcomes Denzel Washington, a great American actor. Is Bishop Robinson running late? Is Denzel having to cover for him?

Then comes Bruce Springsteen accompanied by an amazing Gospel choir. I figure maybe the event planners have decided to have a few opening performances and then have the opening prayer once everyone is in place. Then comes Martin Luther King’s son. What has happened to Bishop Robinson? Was he stranded in a snow storm in New Hampshire?

My heart sunk when I realized he would not speak at all. This was a huge disappointment after waiting all week for this historic moment. I had sent out announcements to family and friends urging them to tune in for this momentous occasion. What happened?

Now I find out that:
1. HBO did not include Bishop Robinson’s prayer in their broadcast, even though he had offered one;
2. The Obama family was not even on the stage when Bishop Robinson offered his opening prayer;
3. The sound went out during Bishop Robinson’s prayer, and no one in the huge throng stretching out from the Lincoln Memorial knew who he was or what he was saying.

It is unacceptable that the first ever gay clergyman invited to participate in an official Inaugural program was treated with such disrespect. His presence was totally hidden from the American people by his absence in the broadcast (everyone, it seems, was broadcast except Bishop Robinson). Bishop Robinson’s message went unheard to the Obama family, the assembled multitude, and the American people.

When the anti-gay Rev. Warren offers his Invocation on Tuesday, every TV and radio station will carry it live. Rev. Warren will be catapulted into global legitimacy and recognition, while Bishop Robinson has been treated with utter disrespect, as if he did not even exist.

How could someone as politically astute as Barack Obama have allowed this ugly saga to take place?

Shame on HBO for cutting out Bishop Robinson’s prayer from its broadcast. Shame on President Obama for not showing the courtesy and respect to be present on the stage during Bishop Robinson’s prayer. Shame on the Inauguration planners for raising hopes with an olive branch, and then shattering them with a national blackout.

Gary L. Cozette – Chicago


January 18th, 2009

People don’t care about invocations. They care about Bono. It’s silly to think that the home of Oz, Six Feet Under, and True Blood, would “censor” a gay preacher. They just assumed, (quite correctly) that no one would care. I say the less prayer, the better. And as the Werewolf Prophet pointed out, NO chorus members were introduced. There’s really nothing here. We can’t keep whining at every little perceived slight. We look like Republicans for crying out loud.


January 19th, 2009

Humbug. They should have let C-SPAN air it.


January 19th, 2009

The After Elton site got a statement from HBO. They are saying that it was the Obama Inauguration Committee’s decision to not include the Invocation for the televised show and instead have it during the pre-show.


January 19th, 2009

Here is the link…..


January 19th, 2009

Why are you lying Jim? Most of the singers were never identified. If you watched you would know that. Pay attention next time.


January 19th, 2009

It looks like it was Obama’s staff who decided to relegate Robinson to the PRE-show.


January 19th, 2009

I can’t believe some of these comments. People: IT’S JUST A PRAYER! It shouldn’t have been broadcast at a secular event anyway! In fact, neither Warren nor Robinson should even be there!

Dale Andersen

January 19th, 2009

Bishop Robinson was excluded for one reason. He is an ass…

Bud Evans

October 22nd, 2010

UPDATE: Oct.22, 2010. Almost two years after the inauguration.

Obama: Disgraceful Homophobe and the New Village Idiot in the White House Repeals Federal Judge striking Down DADT as Unconstitutional.

By the way, The Department of Justice decided recently not to appeal a Federal Court ruling brought by the anti-gay Alliance Fund that would allow them unfettered, permit-less, religious mob gatherings and the “right” to proselytize and harass tourists in our national parks.

Got it! The Department of Justice decided NOT TO APPEAL a court decision against the federal law, passed by Congress, which gave the US Park Service regulatory powers over federal parks.

What’s this? Weren’t we were all led to believe (falsely) that it was DoJ’s obligation to defend all laws passed by Congress.

…Hmmmmmmm. Were we lied to again?

This recent federal court ruling the Obama’s goons at the DoJ DECLINED TO APPEAL because letting religious fanatics harass tourists in national parks is more important than allowing Gays and Lesbian soldiers the dignity of being who they are while fighting and dying for their ungrateful and undeserving country:

….From The Washington Post:

…Thanks, Ryan. Just when I thought your sycophant-ism couldn’t’t get any more ridiculous and drama-queenish (e.g. the Prez is the real deal? Really?) then you step it up a notch. Good show.

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