US gay rights group “encouraged” by Obama’s offer to Gene Robinson

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America’s leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans rights group has welcomed an invitation from President-elect Barack Obama’s inaugural committee to a gay bishop.

Gene Robinson, the Anglican Bishop of New Hampshire, will deliver the invocation at a concert held at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18th, the first inaugural event the President-elect will attend.

“Bishop Robinson models what prayer should be – spiritual reflection put into action for justice,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

“It is encouraging that the President-elect has chosen this spiritual hero for all Americans to lead the nation in prayer at the Lincoln Memorial inaugural concert.”

Last month lesbian and gay rights advocates in America reacted with fury to the announcement that Rick Warren has been asked to deliver the Invocation at the Presidential Inauguration on January 20th.

The California preacher has compared same-sex couples to incest and campaigned to ban gay marriage in the state.

“Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans,” Mr Solomonese said in a letter to Barack Obama.

“Our loss in California over the passage of Proposition 8 which stripped loving, committed same-sex couples of their given legal right to marry is the greatest loss our community has faced in 40 years.

“And by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.”

The announcement of Bishop Robinson’s inclusion in the inauguration ceremonies is seen as an attempt by the new administration to build bridges with the gay community.

However, an Obama source told

“Robinson was in the plans before the complaints about Rick Warren.

“Many sceptics will read this as a direct reaction to the Warren criticism — but it’s just not so.”