WASHINGTON — The White House on Wednesday was refusing to address comments critical of gay and lesbian people made by Rev. Louie Giglio, who was tapped by President Barack Obama to deliver the benediction prayer at the Jan. 21 inaugural ceremony.
Think Progress reported that Giglio, an Atlanta pastor, made comments in a mid-1990s sermon criticizing "the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community."
The inaugural invitation is not Giglio's first interaction with Obama. He also was one of the president's guests at the White House's 2012 Easter prayer breakfast, according to the White House pool report from the April 4, 2012 event.
This past November, Giglio served as the convocation speaker at the Jerry Falwell-founded Liberty University. Although he did not address homosexuality in the speech, he did strongly urge visiting high-school students to attend the college known for its strict policies against homosexual behavior and spoke about the positive influence Falwell has had on his life.
While Giglio did not talk about gay issues directly, he did reference gender roles in a striking way, speaking of a time he started crying very hard. He explained, "I started bawling, I mean, sobbing. Not crying like men cry. I started crying like women cry." Continuing, he explained what he called the unwritten rules for men who cry, telling the students, "A man never looks at another man that's crying. That's the rule."
The questions about Giglio come as the administration is still fending off criticism about comments former Sen. Chuck Hagel — now Obama's nominee for defense secretary — made that Clinton administration nominee James Hormel was too "aggressively gay" to serve as ambassador to Luxembourg.
Giglio is the pastor at Atlanta's Passion City Church and the founder of the Passion Conferences, Passion 2013 brought 60,000 young people to Atlanta's Georgia Dome this past week.
Both the White House and committee organized to run Obama's inauguration ceremonies later this month refused to comment Wednesday on the remarks reported by Think Progress, in which Giglio said: "That movement is not a benevolent movement, it is a movement to seize by any means necessary the feeling and the mood of the day, to the point where the homosexual lifestyle becomes accepted as a norm in our society and is given full standing as any other lifestyle, as it relates to family."
This is not the first time questions have been raised about those giving public prayers at Obama's big events. Before Obama even took office, his choice of Rick Warren to give his inaugural invocation created what Huffington Post's Sam Stein called Obama's "first real rift with progressives" at the time.
Additionally, the benediction at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in 2012 was Cardinal James Dolan, a choice that drew some criticism from the left due to his strong opposition to Obama's positions on abortion and gay rights.