As you may have heard, the Reverend Louie Giglio will not deliver the benediction at Obama’s inaugural ceremony in the wake of revelations of anti-gay remarks he made in the mid 1990s. Think Progress uncovered audio yesterday of Giglio giving a sermon called “In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality,” which made a number of disturbing assertions about the gay “lifestyle” and “aggressive agenda.” Today, Giglio pulled out of the inaugural.
The key context here is supplied by Steve Benen and Dave Weigel, who both contrast this quick resolution with Obama’s handling of the controversy that erupted over Pastor Rick Warren in 2008. Despite being an outspoken proponent of antigay initiatives, he was chosen to deliver a sermon at that inauguration, and when gay rights groups protested, Obama responded by saying: “We have to agree to disagree without being disagreeable.”
This time, as Benen notes, Giglio was out literally in less than 24 hours. In this context, it’s worth noting the unequivocal nature of the statement delivered by Obama’s inaugural committee:
Pastor Giglio was asked to deliver the benediction in large part for his leadership in combating human trafficking around the world. As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.
The swift end to this mess underscores a genuine shift in public attitudes — it is a reminder of just how big a liberalization in public sentiment towards gay rights we’ve seen in only four short years. In that time span, we saw the defeat of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — legalized discrimination — after a long and bitter battle; gay marriage being ratified by popular vote for the first time in multiple states; and the first American presidential declaration of support for gay marriage, after several years of steady pressure.
Today’s outcome is also a reminder why Obama’s support for gay marriage was so important: With that marker laid down, the only conceivable response to the revelations about Giglio was this outcome, combined — crucially — with an unequivocal declaration of support for tolerance and inclusion towards all Americans. This is what those pushing Obama on gay marriage so hard have long wanted the Democratic Party to stand for, and now — in theory, at least — it does.