President Barack Obama specifically included LGBT rights in today’s inauguration speech, part of a powerful appeal to “the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal.”
Obama gave his second inaugural address after being sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts.
“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 1969 Stonewall Riots, when LGBT people fought back against police harassment at a New York City gay bar called the Stonewall Inn, is widely viewed as sparking the modern gay civil rights movement.
“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began,” Obama continued.
He then referenced marriage rights for same-sex couples in his list of ways “our journey is not complete.”
“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,” the president said.
Obama’s list also included a reference to women’s rights and — in a nod to the Sandy Hook school shootings — the need for children “from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”
The inaugural address was followed by Kelly Clarkson singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” then by openly gay Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco.
Rev. Luis Leon then gave the benediction, again specifically concluding LGBT people among the fabric of our nation.
“With the blessing of your blessing, we will see that we are created in your image, whether brown, black, or white; male or female; first generation immigrant American or daughter of the American Revolution; gay or straight, rich or poor,” Leon prayed.
Leon, who served on the Steering Committee for D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality, replaced Rev. Louie Giglio, pastor of Atlanta’s Passion City Church. Giglio stepped down following controversy after news broke that he had preached in the 1990s against the “aggressive agenda” of “many in the homosexual community.”
LGBT people are also specifically included in this afternoon’s inaugural parade.
The Lesbian & Gay Band Association (featuring seven members from Atlanta) will perform, and a gay Air Force veteran who fought against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is among the eight inauguration “citizen co-chairs” who will ride on the official float with the theme“Our People, Our Future.”
For more on LGBT angles to the parade, please click here.
Top photo: Atlanta Freedom Bands participants, (front row, left to right): Danielle Steele, Eddie Young, Robert Corona, Mark Birditt; (second row) Cliff Norris, John Peterson, Karen Helbling, Bob Derrickson. (courtesy Cliff Norris)