Although Biden only took office a few days ago, he’s already solidifying his commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. On Wednesday, he signed an executive order ensuring LGBTQ+ employment equality. On Thursday, he followed with an inclusive prayer service.
During the 2021 National Prayer Service, an interfaith gathering that took place virtually, a historic number of LGBTQ+ religious leaders were featured, including two trans leaders. The first was Dr. Paula Stone Williams, a pastor from Colorado’s Left Hand Church, who read a Bible verse about setting “the oppressed free.” The second was Barbara Satin, the faith work director for the advocacy group National LGBTQ+ Task Force, who said a prayer for US military service members.
There were a number of other LGBTQ+ faith leaders present, including Reverend Dr. Yvette Flunder, the Black, lesbian presiding bishop at the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries; Fred Davie, the Black, gay executive vice president of New York’s Union Theological Seminary; and lesbian Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, from New York’s Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.
In a sermon at the Washington National Cathedral, Reverend William J. Barber II delivered a message of unity that called on all people, regardless of race or sexual identity, to come together to create a more just world.
“This is the only path to domestic tranquility and healing,” he said. “So God, grant us as a people; grant us as an entire nation, grant our new President; grant our new Vice President; grant every preacher; grant every politician; grant every person, Black and white, Latino, Native, Asian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, people of faith, not of faith but with a moral conscience, every human being created by God, documented or undocumented; gay, straight or trans, young or old. And what a day it will be when our children’s children call us what you have called us to be: repairers of the breach.”
Because of the LGBTQ+ representation and inclusivity, Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David has called the 2021 National Prayer Service the “most [LGBTQ+] inclusive inaugural prayer in U.S. history,” leading only above Obama’s in 2013, which featured the first openly LGBTQ+ clergy member.
“This service reflects a critical change in tone away from the cynical use of religion and faith as weapons of division against the LGBTQ community, and instead towards tools of service in the work of justice and inclusion,” David said in a statement.
Watch the full prayer service below.