01/17/13 - MiamiHerald.com (blog) - Gay affirming, Cuban born pastor Luis Leon to give benediction at President Obama's 2nd inaugural
BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
A gay-affirming, Cuban-born Episcopal pastor has been chosen to give the
benediction on Jan. 21 at President Barack Obama's second inaugural.
Episcopal pastor Luis Leon replaces evangelical pastor Louie Giglio,
who quickly withdrew from the ceremony after the website ThinkProgress
reported he had condemned gay rights in the 1990s.
The inaugural committee apologized for choosing Giglio, saying it didn't
know of his stands on gay issues: "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
On Wednesday, the inaugural committee formally announced Giglio's
replacement, a clergyman who came from Cuba to Miami as a boy in the 1960s
during Operation Pedro Pan.
Leon, who presides over John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., a gay
-affirming congregation attended by the Obama family, is the second
Cuban-American on the inaugural program.
Last week, Miami-raised Richard Blanco was chosen to read the inaugural
poem at the ceremony, becoming the first Hispanic and first LGBT person to
Here's a short profile of Leon that appears in Thursday's Miami Herald,
written by Daniel Shoer Roth and Luisa Yanez:
In 1961, Luis Leon fled his native Cuba for Miami. He was only 11 and
He carried only a change of clothes a toothbrush and $3 in his pocket.
In exile, Leon would choose a life in the clergy and eventually head the
historic church near the White House known as "Church of the Presidents"
- John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.
At Monday's inauguration, the young boy who was among the 14,048 Cuban
children spirited away from Fidel Castro's Communist indoctrination
during the famed Operation Pedro Pan will take center stage as he gives
the benediction at President Barrack Obama's second swearing in.
The Episcopalian pastor embodies the spirit of the country's diversity.
On Election Day, Obama cemented his victory with strong support from
"It's an honor to be a part of such a milestone in American history, as
all inaugurations are. And it's a special honor because as an immigrant,
this is the only country where something like this could happen to me,"
Leon, 63, told The Miami Herald in a telephone interview on Wednesday
from his church.
"I feel that in some way I am representing the U.S. Hispanic community.
And we're an important part of this country," said Leon, who is married
to his wife, Lu, and has two grown daughters.
Leon is not the only Cuban-American with Miami ties taking part in the
inauguration ceremony, which will be held at the National Mall starting
at 11:30 a.m.
Obama also personally chose Miami-raised poet Richard Blanco, who was
born in Spain to Cuban parents, to read an inauguration poem. Blanco is
the first Hispanic and also the youngest poet to ever participate in a
Leon is no stranger to presidential ceremonies. As minister of St.
John's since 1995, he has counseled from the pulpit three presidents
Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama.
It's also not the first time for Leon giving the benediction. In 2005,
he became the first Hispanic to deliver the inaugural benediction to
During his three allotted minutes on Monday where he will hopefully have
the attention of millions of American watching, Leon said he will speak
"My concern is that we are not speaking to each other," Leon said. "I
think when God blesses us, God is calling for the best in us in our
relationships with each other.''
Original Source / Fuente Original:
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