The pro-gay pastor of the Episcopal parish closest to the White House will give the benediction at President Barack Obama’s inauguration next week.

The Reverend Luis Leon of St John’s Church has been chosen for the honour.

He replaces Atlanta megachurch pastor Luis Giglio.

Giglio bowed out last week after a sermon he gave years ago surfaced in which he criticised the gay rights movement.

The sermon was titled ‘In Search of a Standard – Christian Response to Homosexuality.’

A spokeswoman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee said the person chosen to give the prayer would reflect the administration’s beliefs.

The Episcopal Church blesses same-sex relationships and elects bishops who live openly with same-gender partners.

St John’s Church is known as “the Church of the Presidents.”

The National Park Service says every president since James Madison has attended a service there.

The presidential inaugural will be held on Monday.