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HBO Blames Obama
Transition Team for Robinson Blackout

HBO Blames Obama
Transition Team for Robinson Blackout

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Live from the Lincolm Memorial, it was supposed to be openly gay Rev. V. Gene Robinson -- but HBO didn't air the bishop's prayer. Why? The network says ask Obama's transition team.

When Rev. V. Gene Robinson took to the stage at a star-studded, pre-inauguration event Sunday afternoon in Washington D.C., millions of LGBT Americans eagerly anticipated what the openly gay bishop would have to say about equality in America.

But Robinson's invocation never aired on television - he was cut from the telecast of the Lincoln Memorial event.

In a call placed to HBO, the premium pay channel on which the Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial aired, a spokesperson told After Elton the decision not to air Robinson's prayer was made by the Obama transition team.

HBO's senior vice president, Jeff Cusson, gave a similar account. "HBO had no involvement in the scheduling of those who appeared as part of the televised event. You'll have to talk to [the Presidential Inaugural Committee] about all of the scheduling decisions. We had a set broadcast time and went forth accordingly," Cusson told gay activist Leah McElrath.

Robinson's prayer was posted on YouTube.com by Christianity Today magazine.

But explanations from the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) failed to illuminate how the decision was made and by whom. "We had always intended and planned for Rt. Rev. Robinson's invocation to be included in the televised portion of yesterday's program," PIC communications director Josh Earnest said. "We regret the error in executing this plan - but are gratified that hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the mall heard his eloquent prayer for our nation that was a fitting start to our event."

According to reports from the scene, many people in attendance could not hear Robinson's speech because of technical difficulties, although acoustics during the entire event were said to be difficult for those viewing from the further reaches of the crowd.

PIC appears to doing some damage control. A source close to inaugural officials tells The Advocate they are working to ensure that HBO's future broadcasts of the ceremony will include Bishop Robinson's invocation. The person also said portions of Robinson's prayer would be included in a series of clips that will stream on jumbo screens for those gathered on the National Mall prior to President-elect Obama's swearing in Tuesday. Pastor Rick Warren will be delivering the invocation, a decision which has caused anger and frustration in the LGBT community since Warren has likened gay relationships to incest and pedophilia.

Click here to read the text of Rev. V. Gene Robinson's opening prayer in full. (Ross von Metzke and Kerry Eleveld, Advocate.com)

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