Giglio, ThinkProgress revealed, had preached a mid-'90s sermon titled "In Search of a Standard -- Christian Response to
Homosexuality." In it, he declared homosexuality "a sin in the eyes of God."
The oratory was long and comprehensive in rebuking gays and their fight to
become "accepted as a norm in our society."
In some ways, the
problem Obama faced this time around with Rev. Giglio resembled less of a redo of the Warren situation than what happened when his campaign team chose an "ex-gay" pastor, Donnie McClurkin, to
headline a South Carolina gospel tour in the fall of 2007.
It seemed unlikely
that Obama's 2008 inaugural committee didn't know a little something about
Warren's anti-gay history, even if they chose to ignore it. But it was at least
plausible that the campaign didn't adequately vet McClurkin, who says he
struggled with same-sex attraction, that gays could be changed through
prayer, and had vowed to fight "the curse of homosexuality."
In fact, that's the explanation for the pick that
then-Senator Obama gave me during an
October 2007 interview. Had McClurkin been vetted, I asked?
vetted to the extent that people were aware of his attitudes with respect to
gay and lesbians, LGBT issues," Obama responded, "at least not vetted as well
as I would have liked to see."
campaign chose to keep McClurkin in 2007 just like the committee chose to keep Warren in
2008. In both cases, Obama's team tried to smooth the kerfuffle by adding openly gay
speakers to the line up: Rev. Andy Sidden in South Carolina and Rev. V. Gene
Robinson at the kickoff to the inaugural ceremonies in 2009.
appeared to be what the inaugural organizers would do this time around -- pointing to their
inclusion of a gay Latino poet, Richard Blanco, in the festivities like a shield to
deflect criticism about Giglio.
with that rationale, of course, is that every time you provide a stage to
someone who has advanced homophobic views, you broaden their platform and reach
while simultaneously legitimizing their point of view.
I sat down Thursday
morning, reluctantly, to pen a diatribe about how little the Obama
administration had learned over the past five years, even as President Obama has
begun to amass a record on advancing LGBT equality that may well be one of his
most striking and enduring legacies.
But many equality
activists had already beaten
me to punch. A couple hours later, Rev. Giglio pulled his name from the
inaugural program and the spokesperson
for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Addie Whisenant, said, "We were not
aware of Pastor Giglio's past comments at the time of his selection and they
don't reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country
at this Inaugural."
In one fell swoop, that statement put to rest the history with both Warren and McClurkin, and asserted a new standard: Homophobia will no longer be absolved in the name of diversity and
improper vetting is no excuse for an unwillingness to take a stand.
It's a major
affirmation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans across the
country. For the first time, they will later this month be able to unreservedly revel in the induction of a president whom many of them admire and appreciate. And that has the makings of a far more magical inauguration.