Pro-gay Episcopal priest to deliver inauguration benediction

Pastor Luis León replaces President Obama's first choice, the Rev. Louie Giglio, who withdrew over reports of anti-gay comments he made years ago.

An Episcopal pastor at a church near the White House says he has been chosen to deliver the closing prayer at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, replacing an evangelical pastor who bowed out after reports surfaced of anti-gay marriage comments he made years ago.

The Rev. Luis León told CNN on Tuesday that the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee have invited him to deliver the benediction at Monday’s festivities. He also confirmed his selection to The Huffington Post via phone on Tuesday night.

A source close to the inaugural committee told CNN the formal announcement of León’s selection would be coming later this week.

León ministers at St. John’s Church, known as the “Church of the Presidents,” just across Lafayette Park from the White House. The parish welcomes gay members and has ordained non-celibate gay priests, according to ThinkProgress.

Obama and his family have worshiped at the church numerous times during his first term.

León delivered the invocation for President George W. Bush’s second inauguration in 2005.

León was Obama’s second choice for the benediction.

His first pick, the Rev. Louie Giglio, an Atlanta evangelical pastor, withdrew after complaints surfaced that he has espoused anti-gay beliefs. Critics pointed to a sermon he delivered in the mid-1990s in which he advocated for “ex-gay” therapy for gays and lesbians and implored Christians to fight against the homosexual lifestyle” from becoming accepted in society.

The inaugural committee said it wasn’t aware of Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection.

León told CNN he’s fine with being Obama’s second choice.

“I don't mind being in the bullpen; relievers are very important," León said. He added, "I was delighted to be asked and honored to be asked."

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