Pro-gay Episcopal priest to give inaugural benediction

Religion | Tiffany Owens

Pro-gay Episcopal priest to give inaugural benediction

President Barack Obama greets Rev. Luis Leon as he leaves St. John's Episcopal Church in 2011.
Associated Press/Photo by Charles Dharapak, File

The Rev. Luis León of St. John's Church in Washington, D.C., an Episcopal parish close to the White House, has been chosen to give the benediction at President Barack Obama’s inauguration on Monday.

León will replace Atlanta megachurch pastor Louie Giglio, who was invited and then disinvited last week after ThinkProgress posted footage of a 20-year-old sermon in which the pastor proclaimed the biblical stance on homosexuality as a sin but encouraged church members to show God’s love toward homosexuals and lesbians.

A spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee said the person chosen to replace Giglio would reflect the administration's beliefs, specifically the president’s support for same-sex “marriage.”

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Since 2006, The Episcopal Church has sanctioned same-sex relationships and elected bishops who live openly with same-sex partners. Last week, the Washington National Cathedral, an Episcopal Church, announced plans to conduct same-sex “marriage” ceremonies at the facility.

León, a native of Cuba, has led the parish since 1995. According to the bio posted on the church website, he focuses on developing inner-city parishes and community outreach. This will be León’s second time giving the inaugural benediction—he also prayed during President George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005.

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