Inaugural pastor withdraws over anti-gay remarks
Obama's inaugural planners have put an emphasis on reflecting diversity in the festivities, including the participation of conservative Christians and gay Americans. Obama personally selected Richard Blanco, whose work explores his experience as a Cuban-American gay man, as the inaugural poet. And the Lesbian and Gay Band Association of St. Louis was one of the first selections to march in the inaugural parade.
An inaugural official said the Presidential Inaugural Committee vetted Giglio. But their statement said they didn't know about that particular sermon. Whisenant said the committee was considering others to deliver the benediction at the Jan. 21 event.
Ross Murray, the faith program director for the gay advocacy group GLAAD, urged the committee to choose someone for the role who reflects "the growing sentiment in the U.S. and in faith communities that LGBT people are full and equal parts of society."
Several evangelical leaders called such demands evidence of liberal intolerance.
"Some are wondering if those who hold to traditional evangelical beliefs on homosexuality are no longer welcome in the public square," wrote Ed Stetzer, head of the research arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, on his blog.
Obama faced a similar uproar in 2009, when he chose prominent pastor Rick Warren to give the inaugural benediction as an olive branch to evangelicals, who overwhelmingly vote Republican. Warren had compared gay relationships to incest and pedophilia. He had also urged congregants at his Saddleback Church in California to support the Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage on the 2008 state ballot. Despite pressure from gay rights advocates for Warren to bow out, the pastor gave the benediction.
Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler contributed from Washington.
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