Barack Obama | Episcopal Church | Gene Robinson | Inauguration | Religion

Bishop Gene Robinson Cut From HBO Broadcast Of Obama Inaugural Concert At National Mall

Bishopgenerobinson_3Openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson delivered the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration concert on the National Mall today. However HBO's exclusive live national broadcast of the celebration started after Robinson's prayer, disappointing millions of LGBT Americans who saw Obama's selection of Robinson as an olive branch offered after weeks of blistering criticism over the Rick Warren debacle.  Even those in attendance missed Robinson's prayer, as sound difficulties caused him to be inaudible to most of the estimated crowd of 500,000 gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

It's presently unknown why Robinson was cut from HBO's broadcast after so much hype from the Obama administration.  It seems doubtful that HBO, a network renowned for edgy shows featuring LGBT characters, would have made that call on their own. Ironically, instead of opening with Bishop Robinson, the live broadcast began with Fanfare For The Common Man by the famously gay composer Aaron Copland, after which the Bidens and Obamas descended the steps before the statue of Lincoln and took their seats.

Here is a portion of Robinson's invocation:

"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."

Bishop Robinson's selection to lead the ceremonies today had generated widespread outrage from the religious right, although Rick Waren himself applauded the decision. Now we need to learn exactly what happened.

UPDATE: has spoken to HBO, who tells them that the decision to keep Robinson's invocation in the pre-broadcast portion of the concert was made by the Obama team.

Contacted Sunday night by concerning the exclusion of Robinson's prayer, HBO said via email, "The producer of the concert has said that the Presidential Inaugural Committee made the decision to keep the invocation as part of the pre-show. Uncertain as to whether or not that meant that HBO was contractually prevented from airing the pre-show, we followed up, but none of the spokespeople available Sunday night could answer that question with absolute certainty. However, it does seem that the network's position is that they had nothing to do with the decision. 

UPDATE II: Somebody very close to the stage recorded Robinson's invocation. See the clip after the jump...

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  1. who would have thought that the good bishop would be reading my mail? except for the fact that he puts a religious spin on the issues, it's all well and good.

    Posted by: nic | Jan 19, 2009 12:08:44 AM

  2. I have emailed HBO asking for an explanation before I do anything rash. We were incredibly disappointed though tuning in and wondering why the show started without the invocation. After about an hour, I was no longer in denial and realized that for one reason or another it had been cut.

    I want an answer as to why this decision had been made.

    Posted by: Rey | Jan 19, 2009 12:10:36 AM

  3. This outrage is clearly the fault of the Obama Inugural Team. If you tell HBO that ur live show starts at 2:30 you don't put ur Gay Bishop on TEN MINUTES BEFORE and expect them to broadcast earlier. And you most def Put the speakers on for the crowd.


    So 1993.

    Posted by: mcNnyc | Jan 19, 2009 12:12:37 AM

  4. We, my gay brothers and lesbian sisters, have been left behind at the revolution. In this time when I feel I should be filled with hope and joy, I am filled with tremendous sadness.

    Posted by: LA | Jan 19, 2009 12:30:48 AM

  5. You don't think this scenario was engineered? Why did Barack Obama and Joe Biden appear only AFTER the invocation? Why was the sound system "malfunctioning" during Bishop Robinson's prayer, only to be "magically" restored AFTERWARD, just in time for the concert? Why were all the choruses identified EXCEPT the Washington Gay Men's Chorus? Why did HBO decide to broadcast the event only AFTER the silenced invocation?

    The Obama team choreographs every detail to the split second, so it's pretty obvious that once again, we've been made expendable.

    Don't expect any gesture or measure of decency or justice toward the LGBT community from his administration. Once again, as with the Clintons, we've been "thrown under the bus." And you can bet that homobigot Rick Warren's voice will be heard loud and clear next Tuesday.

    Posted by: Paul Weidig | Jan 19, 2009 1:00:18 AM

  6. The honeymoon is over, and we are learning more and more. Obama is better than McCain, however, we took Obama's rhetoric hook, line and sinker. Now sit back and watch us get pushed to the back of the bus, because it looks like we've been taken for a ride.

    While Obama is not directly to blame, he is so indirectly. His inaugural committee is overseeing all the events. If this is a sign of how his administration is going to run, we are in deep kimchi. It is also rumoured that the microphone wasn't working and/or speakers weren't turned on. In otherwords, Bishop Gene Robinson was silenced/censored without actually being silenced.

    I fear that the gay community is going to continue to get stepped on. Rick Warren was just a slap in the face. We were promised hope and so far all we have gotten is heartache. I am kind of wondering which side of the fence Obama is going to fall on.

    As a side note - although Obama stated he didn't support gay marriage during the Presidential election, at one time he did. A true politician; get the votes anyway you can. Support gay marriage when it benefits you, don't support it when it doesn't. The below pdf link was just sent to me, check out pages 6 & 7...maybe you've heard the term 'flip-flop'?

    Time to fight for equality...shameless plug...

    Always a groomsman, never the groom!

    Posted by: CB | Jan 19, 2009 1:06:11 AM

  7. We were 'played' by the Obama appeasers in response to the heat they took over their decision to include Rick Warren in the Inauguration The producers of today's concert aren't part of the established HBO family, and had no intention of including Bishop Robinson's prayer in their prestigious, historic, pro-American propaganda production. HBO broadcast this concert to all American troops, here and abroad, and played it on their world wide cable and satellite networks. And it is still being broadcast repeatedly on the HBO U. S. network. I'm sure the concert's production team believed that a prayer by a gay clergyman would contaminate the pop-culture quality, and marketability of their product.. and put the Bishop's prayer before the concert's previously planned opening, so it could be easily omitted from the live broadcast that followed.

    Posted by: Jack Harris | Jan 19, 2009 1:24:36 AM

  8. Clearly, Barack Obama was personally responsible for this vile and underhanded trick!

    Clearly, he was also responsible for the attacks on 9/11!

    Clearly, he was also the second gunman—on the grassy knoll!—in Dallas in November of 1963!

    And clearly, some of you Hillary dead-enders are batshit crazy and wouldn't be happy if Obama issued an executive order on Tuesday declaring daily buttsex mandatory for all Americans.

    Posted by: 24play | Jan 19, 2009 1:39:13 AM

  9. agreed 24PLAY

    Posted by: NYC | Jan 19, 2009 1:58:19 AM

  10. The After Elton site got a statement from HBO. They are saying that it was the Obama Inauguration Committee's decision for the Invocation to NOT be televised.

    Posted by: Josh | Jan 19, 2009 2:42:30 AM

  11. Remember folks, the fight for Gay Civil Rights is up to Gay Americans. Yes we have allies, yes we have friends, yes we have supporters, yes yes yes. At the end of the day the fight is ours. Volunteer, Get involved in politics (shocking for Gay men), organize, support Gay candidates (as often str8 ones don't follow through, again shocking to say, disappointing to constantly see). It's OUR fight, not their's.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Jan 19, 2009 2:46:13 AM

  12. I think Andy struck the right tone in his original post -- something regrettable happened, now let's request an explanation. Having worked on large outdoor events during college, I can personally attest to the speed and frequency which things can get screwed up at a festival-type event where there has to be multiple lead coordinators, even though every detail was planned over half a year.

    That does not dismiss the role of actual malice in the omission of Gene Robinson in the aired program, but to me concerts will always be like sausages: great to eat -- but if you knew what actually went into making them, you'd drop them from your diet.

    Posted by: Foochy | Jan 19, 2009 2:47:12 AM

  13. What's with all this "we" business?

    Some of us chose to support candidates that support the GLBT community without reservation.

    Fuck Obama. Let's see if he's still around in four years to pull this same stunt at the inauguration in 2013.

    Posted by: Eric | Jan 19, 2009 3:26:24 AM

  14. Gene Robinson was omitted from the HBO broadcast for one reason. He is an ass.

    Posted by: Dale Andersen | Jan 19, 2009 3:29:16 AM

  15. >They are saying that it was the Obama
    >Inauguration Committee's decision for the
    >Invocation to NOT be televised.

    Is anybody truly surprised by this?

    Can't wait to see Rick Warren stick a knife in Obama's back tomorrow.

    Posted by: Drake | Jan 19, 2009 3:41:38 AM

  16. Fuck Obama? No, FUCK YOU, Eric!

    How about we meet up somewhere and we'll see what you have to say after I punch you in your fat mouth. Talking about my President like that. I will fuck you up, chump.

    Posted by: Micah J. | Jan 19, 2009 4:00:02 AM

  17. I thought Obama was the weaker of the two main candidates, so I didn't vote for him. That having been said, why not give the man a chance and see what he does on the actual ISSUES? All this inauguration crap is just for show. Wait and see what he does on DADT before going nuts.

    Posted by: GayRepublican | Jan 19, 2009 4:32:09 AM

  18. perhaps it is because i am looking for ways to be hurt and insulted, but the affronts to dignity for the gay (read glbt) tribe seem neverending. i tuned into the opening inaugural event and concert to see just a few things, chief among them the DC gay mens chorus, and bishop gene robinson. i tried viewing the event from HBO's website, three times i tried. i never seemed to catch the opening invocation from the good bishop. puzzled and annoyed i did a quick scan of some news sites and found out that the bishop's speech was not telecast. given that his presence was seen to be a counter to the invocation of pastor warren, i find this insulting to the maximum degree.

    here is the story from AMERICABLOG. any takers on a bet the MSM will not find this a compelling enough story to cover?

    as to the explanation given, it might carry some weight for the first live feed broadcast, but not at all for the two following rebroadcasts.

    the DC chorus was theere, but as far as i could tell, they sang back up for josh groban and were not identified for the tv viewing audience. i will ASSUME they were credited in the programs given out.

    i found the whole experience one of ineffable sadness, as the many of the human rights achievements that were being trumpeted clearly did not apply to me and mine.

    i do not want to throw the baby out with the bath water, as i realize how far things have come, but i can't overlook how many ways equality is denied us.

    Posted by: jack | Jan 19, 2009 4:58:26 AM

  19. The filmed piece will be shown over and over to schoolchildren and in churches for years to come. The Obama team had to make sure that the children's minds were contaminated by gay/lesbian thoughts. Of course, Obama had no idea this would happen, he was just "present".

    Posted by: glennmcgahee | Jan 19, 2009 7:53:17 AM

  20. The less religious presence in these Inaugural proceedings the better... HBO did the world a favor. Let's hope other Inaugural religious rites get cut from broadcast as well.
    It is inappropriate to feature and select Christianity to champion over all other religions in what needs to be an inclusive and secular Federal event.

    Posted by: Pbar | Jan 19, 2009 8:53:18 AM

  21. I was in the shower when the event started, so I was listening to it on NPR, and they also did not have Robinson's invocation. So, once the schedule was set, I believe the broadcast partners were basically out of it, so it's probably not worth it to get too upset at HBO (or NPR, for that matter). They've got a schedule to keep, and regardless of those corporations' feelings on the matter, they're going on at a certain time and can't start earlier too easily.

    In a broad sense, I don't mind too much, since religion shouldn't be part of governmental activities. As a gay man, it is disappointing to not have been able to see Robinson up there in a nationwide broadcast.

    It will also be difficult to judge this in the context of the Warren invocation. The inaugural committee could just as easily schedule him early, but since Tuesday's events will have broader media coverage, the extent to which events air is not directly in the control of the inaugural team, I don't think. But someone with more direct knowledge should feel free to correct me on that.

    Posted by: Kirk | Jan 19, 2009 8:58:19 AM

  22. I voted for Obama, as I know that sexual minorities will suffer far worse at the hands of the GOP. That said, I have never had any illusions about the Democrats who seemingly lack any sort of central directive.

    Does choosing Warren or omitting Robinson have any long term impact? No. So what is its value? What it tells us is that their word (LGBT folk are mistreated, we will change that) when compared to their action (they are disposeable) don't match. Which one reflects the Obama administration's position? I guess we will have to wait and see for ourselves.

    Posted by: David Ezell | Jan 19, 2009 9:18:55 AM

  23. I cancelled my HBO.

    Posted by: Mau | Jan 19, 2009 9:19:14 AM

  24. PBAR is right. Why is ANYONE allowed to pray at an inauguration? It's not a religious event. If Bishop Gene Robinson or Rick Warren or anyone else needs to say a prayer for Obama, they should do it at home or in their tax exempt churches. We do still have a separation of church & state, although lately that seems debatable.

    Posted by: JOEJOE | Jan 19, 2009 9:27:07 AM

  25. "Why were all the choruses identified EXCEPT the Washington Gay Men's Chorus?"

    Wrong. Other than the Naval Academy Glee Club, every other chorus group were not identified.

    Posted by: Ryan | Jan 19, 2009 9:30:05 AM

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