Episcopal Priest to Deliver Benediction at Obama’s Inauguration
January 16, 2013 by Carolyn Simon, Deputy Director of Digital Media
The Rev. Luis León, an Episcopal priest in Washington, D.C., has been tapped to give the closing prayer at President Obama’s inauguration on Monday.
León is a priest at St. John’s Church, which is known for welcoming LGBT members. The Obamas have attended several services at St. John’s, and worshipped there before the 2009 inauguration.
León told CNN he plans to offer a prayer at the inauguration to help bring people together.
“I think when we’re asking a blessing for this country, we’re asking for God to lift us up, to lift up what’s good in us,” he said. “To remind us of what’s good in us and remind us to do what’s proper, what’s the good, the right thing for the country.”
The Episcopal Church has a long history of welcoming LGBT people. As early as the 1960s, individual clergy and parishes were unofficially blessing the relationships of gay or lesbian couples. In 2003, a diocese in the Anglican Church of Canada decided to allow blessings using a public liturgy, and the Episcopal Church elected the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, that same year.
In 2012, at Episcopal Church’s 77 General Convention, the bishops overwhelmingly voted in favor of a transgender-inclusive non-discrimination policy for ordination and the establishment of a standard liturgy for same-sex unions. They also adopted a resolution urging members of Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Leon replaces Pastor Louis Giglio, who withdrew from the program last week. Giglio had a history of anti-LGBT rhetoric, including advocating for ex-gay therapy.
In 2009, León spoke in favor of marriage equality in D.C. Watch the video below:
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