Sunday’s big Lincoln Memorial show was billed as the “We Are One” concert, intended to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama with a spirit of unity.
But for those of us watching at home, one participant was excluded — Gene Robinson, the “first openly gay, non-celibate priest to be ordained a bishop in a major Christian denomination.” Robinson was on hand to deliver an opening prayer to the event, but this prayer went unseen by anyone watching on HBO, who provided and sponsored the coverage.
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for HBO stated that decisions regarding the timing and presentation of Robinson’s remarks were made by the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and that Robinson was “not a part of our show from the start.” Indeed, Robinson appeared minutes before the 2:30pm start time of the concert coverage. HBO’s response to the matter has been uniform. A spokeperson offered AfterElton.com much the same response: “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.”
HBO comes to this controversy without any sort of significant reputation for being a network or a workplace hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In fact, the network is responsible for airing the drama Six Feet Under, which depicted gays in complex relationships unflinchingly. The Obama camp, on the other hand, has courted controversy already with the decision to include in the inauguration Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, a supporter of Proposition 8 in California. The appearance of a snub in the case of Bishop Robinson has successfully raised the temperature among Democratic activists and in the liberal blogosphere, where outrage is being pointed mostly at the incoming administration and the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Calls for comment from the PIC have not been returned. Bishop Robinson was slated to be a guest on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation” today at 2pm.
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