Openly 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: AfterElton.com 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 AfterElton.com 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...