Obama Makes Bishop Robinson Invisible

See update at the bottom of the post!

It’s been five days since it was announced that Bishop Gene Robinson would be giving the invocation a pre-inaugural concert tonight. The concert was broadcast by HBO, and since I don’t have cable anymore I’ve been sitting at the computer here at my folks’ house waiting excitedly for a video clip of the event to appear on youtube or at another blog. Something to show the world that not only do LGBT people exist, we can be as spiritually fulfilled as anyone else.

So imagine my disappointment when reports started coming in that HBO decided not to air Bishop Robinson’s invocation, either on the live broadcast or on the immediate re-broadcast tonight. No word on why HBO decided to black out the moment, but this has been major news for nearly a week. It’s not as if they weren’t aware of how much people were talking about Robinson’s appearance.

It’s a new disappointing twist in this embarrassing start to President-elect Obama’s presidency. To add insult to injury, I’ve also seen reports that Robinson’s prayer was nearly inaudible to the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial. The cherry on top is that the DC Gay Men’s Chorus was apparently the one and only participating group not to be identified tonight.

I won’t bother to wonder whether Rick Warren’s prayer will be blacked out Tuesday. He’ll be front and center with working microphones and several cameras capturing the moment in high definition as a man who considers me and my LGBT brothers and sisters no better than incestuous pedophiles, undeserving of equal protection under the law and in need of repair by whatever means he deems possible.

Fortunately, we have unofficial video and a transcript of Bishop Robinson’s prayer thanks to Christianity Today magazine. HBO may not have run it and millions around the world may have been kept from hearing the words, but the invocation, in all its inclusive, healing, uplifting glory is available to be seen and read. More importantly, these words made it to the throne room of heaven with or without HBO’s approval.

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Welcome to Washington!  The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

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.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and  warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe.  We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one.  We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe.  Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


(Just two days left, Mr. Obama.)

update: According to the Box Turtle Bulletin’s recounting of Bishop Robinson’s interview today on NPR, he was unaware of the plan for his invocation to be unaired until he saw a schedule of events shortly before he went on.

Further, neither Barack Obama nor Joe Biden were present when Bishop Robinson was on stage. This was not an accident, as there very well could be political fallout if pictures of the president-elect and vice-president-elect were taken with a gay bishop.

HBO says it’s the Obama camp’s fault, the Obama camp says it’s HBO’s fault. I’m inclined to believe HBO right now, so I’ve changed the title of this post accordingly.

Fellow Gays, this does not bode well. Even on simple symbolic gestures that have no policy ramifications, Barack Obama seems to be willing to sacrifice us to gain support from the Religious Right. (You know, the ones who think we’re just like pedophiles and need to be put in therapy until we stop feeling our feelings.)

I hope I’m wrong. I really, really hope I’m wrong.