The first gay-affirming benediction at an inauguration was delivered by The Rev. Dr. Luis Leon, pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square. This church was also the site of the prayer service that started the day, over which Leon presided. Leon replaced an Atlanta preacher who withdrew after his history of anti-gay preaching was brought to light and a White House petition to rescind the invite was gaining steam.
The benediction was a fitting close to a day in which The President promoted marriage and gay rights, bringing together Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall as "guiding stars" marking our progress toward "self-evident" rights.
Meanwhile at the highest point in the District of Columbia the Dean of the National Cathedral, seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, The Very Rev. Gary Hall had just advance the radical gospel as well. In his role as Dean of the Cathedral, Hall announced that same-sex weddings, legal in DC, will be permitted at the church.
“The gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby," said Hall in the sermon following the tragic shoots at Newtown according to the Washington Post. The sermon received a rare standing ovation in this, the most staid setting in what was once only seen as a stodgy denomination.
I am so proud of the role our church, MY church, has played in resurrecting a Gospel, so often bent to defend inhibit forward movement. It is time we really ask, "What would Jesus do?" not as a way to build barrier, but to break them down. That is what Jesus did. He challenged everything. He stood our understanding and assumption of what God was and is on its head.
Way to go Luis. Way to go Gary. Way to go Episcopal Church.