Obama Makes History…Again!
American President Barack Obama made history at his inauguration ceremony by mentioning gay Americans for the first time ever in the history of all presidential inaugural speeches. It was a moment of pure shock followed by an overwhelming emotional response from most gay Americans who were listening. Over the course of the year, the US President has spoken of his support for gay marriage and equality, but never was his support expected to be broadcast across the globe during what most would consider the most influential speech a President can deliver.
The Presidential Inaugural speech was delivered like a sermon in church. The crowd politely listened and cheered at all the right moments. The President used repetitive key words and phrases and had all of Washington DC as well as the nation clinging on each last word. When a President is elected for a second term, in most cases, the second term is a time to get things done. There is no more campaigning to do and no more tiptoeing around issues that might upset a demographic. What President Obama did was reconfirm his commitment and support to the LGBT base in the United States.
With the Supreme Court Justices and members of Congress sitting behind him, he mentioned the word Stonewall when citing milestones of the civil right struggle. It was a reference to a riot and subsequent protests over a police raid in June 1969 of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The day of the public inauguration was also Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States, a pioneer and leader of the civil rights movement.
“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; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth,” Obama said.
He then took it a step further and fully declared to the nation and world that gay citizens of the United States deserve full equality. “Our journey is not 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.” This comment could not have come at a better moment because in less than 2 months, the Supreme Court of the United States is set to hear arguments on two very monumental cases, both on gay issues. The fact that the Supreme Court selected both these cases at the same time and will most likely have decisions to both around the same time in July shows that there is a huge possibility for good news coming to the LGBT population of the US.
President Obama once again reaffirming his support for full equality in his speech has set the tone for his next four years and what he wants his legacy to be. Obama will hopefully be the President remembered for championing gay rights. Under his administration during his first term as President, the obnoxious “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was done away with and now every American is free to serve their country in the armed forces. Next up on the agenda is gay marriage. The Supreme Court of the US has an opportunity here. The case regarding marriage is truly a State specific case and deals with California, but if the Justices want to, their ruling could potentially be considered Federal law and permit gay couples to marry in all 50 States.
It’s also interesting to consider how powerful and influential his speech was across the world. Minutes after it ended, activists, bloggers and media all over the globe took to the web to praise and report on Obama and then quickly changed the focus to their own government. With the issue of gay marriage being so prevalent in so many countries at the moment, Obama’s words could change hearts and minds. The “Leader of the Free World” has influential power. He’s already changing the minds of Americans; will he help change the minds of those around the world as well?