By Alessio Tummolillo
Luis Leon, a Cuban-born pastor who has shown support of gay rights, has been newly selected to give the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration.
Luis Leon, who was born in Cuba, but escaped to Miami in 1961. He is a pastor at the John Episcopal Church in Washington D.C., a gay-affirming church where the Obama family attends mass.
Of his selection, Luis Leon had this to say to Miami Herald reporter during a phone interview: “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.
“I feel that in some way I am representing the U.S. Hispanic community. And we’re an important part of this country.”
Luis Leon’s selection comes on the back of Pastor Louie Giglio’s withdrawal from the event, after ThinkProgress released a recording of a sermon given by Giglio, persecuting the gay community in the mid-1990s.
President Obama’s inauguration committee has also selected gay military vet David Hall to be one of eight “citizen co-chairs” to be on stage with the President while he is sworn in to Office for the second time.
In 2010, Hall sent a letter to Obama, expressing his pain at being discharged from the Air Force due to his sexuality. Hall is now the Director of Development at OutServe, an armed service advocacy fighting for the rights of gays and lesbians who wish to serve for their country.
“This is certainly the honor of a lifetime, and I am grateful to President Obama for his leadership in repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ so that no qualified American who wants to serve this country in uniform will ever again be denied that right simply because they are gay or lesbian,” Hall said in a press release.
With these latest selections, Obama’s Inaugural Committee brings the count up to three of people actively participating in the event who are either a part of, or support, the LGBT community. Last week, Richard Blanco, openly gay poet, was chosen to read the Inaugural Poem.