America’s largest LGBT rights group has hailed the new Obama administration as a “new day of welcome and great promise.”

The Human Rights Campaign described yesterday’s inauguration of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as “a paradigm shift.”

Watching by more than two million people who packed into the National Mall in Washington DC, Barack Obama became the first African-American President when he took the oath of office just after noon (5pm GMT) yesterday.

The 44th President has expressed support for a range of gay rights measures, and the White House website now has a lengthy section on LGBT civil rights.

“The pendulum has swung away from the anti-gay forces and toward a new President and Vice President who acknowledge our equality,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

“For the past eight years, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was out of reach and out of touch. Our community and do many others are looking at a new day of welcome and great promise.

“We salute President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on this historic day in our nation’s capital and look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

The HRC made no mention of the part played by Rev Rick Warren at yesterday’s inauguration ceremony.

The California preacher, who led the fight against gay marriage in the state last year and has compared homosexuality to incest, was a highly controversial choice to lead the invocation, in front of an audience of hundreds of millions watcing on television.

Rev Warren struck a decidedly Christian tone, reciting the Protestant version of The Lord’s Prayer and claiming that Jesus “taught us to pray.”

“Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all,” he said.

“When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us.

“When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.

“And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

“Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all.”

Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, told the LA Times:

“We want to have that conversation about the future with regard to gay and lesbian Americans in communities of faith.

“Other views and other opinions are now welcome at the table, and therein lies our hope that we can move to full equality.”