January 22, 2013 1 Comment
President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony was filled was filled with a lot of historic firsts. Monday’s ceremony included the first woman and layperson to deliver an inaugural prayer, the first openly gay Latino poet to recite a work during an inaugural ceremony and the first Hispanic to administer the oath of office.
It also marked the first time that a U.S. president has acknowledged the struggle of millions of gay Americans during the historic speech. In fact, as Politico reports, President Obama is the first president to use the word “gay” in an inaugural address in reference to sexual orientation at all.
The first historic nod to the gay community came in reference to the Declaration of Independence’s mission that all are created equal and all deserve “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The president said that mission wouldn’t be complete until,”our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law— for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
The second nod came during a list of historic places in the civil rights struggle,”We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall,” Obama said.
The fact that the President made the two references just feet away from the same Supreme Court Justices who will soon be deciding the fate of marriage equality in the country was not lost on more than one political commentator.
As historic as the speech is, the President still has some work to do if he hopes to seal his legacy as the “LGBT equality president.” As Chris Geidner over at BuzzFeed points out, service members’ same-sex spouses are still being denied “basic support from their service base communities” and transgender soldiers still can’t openly serve. There’s also the matter of adding sexual orientation and gender identity to federal discrimination laws, so far the President has said little about supporting such a measure. Finally, as Geidner again points out, it isn’t clear just how far Obama will carry his support for marriage equality. Will he, for example, condemn state laws that prohibit same-sex marriage?
At any rate, with the repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell”, the President’s recent “evolution” on marriage equality and this administration’s work on other LGBT issues, there’s no denying that President Obama has already made a lot of headway when it comes to securing equal rights for ALL Americans. In fact, when you stop and think about it, cliche’ aside, we really are better off then we were four years ago.
Watch the full speech below: