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Liberation Alliteration: O2.0

obama inauguration speechToday, our struggle for liberation and acceptance of American lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBT) reached a new milestone: for the first time in American history, the word “gay” was spoken as part of a presidential inaugural address.

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….

Which is remarkable, considering Barack Obama’s immediate presidential predecessor used one of his State of the Union addresses, only eight years ago, as the occasion to celebrate his party’s bigotry by calling on Congress to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment to make civic recognition of our love illegal and unconstitutional.

Because marriage is a sacred institution and the foundation of society, it should not be redefined by activist judges. For the good of families, children and society, I support a constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage.

More importantly, though, was today’s reference to the voting coalition who actually made Barack Obama a re-elected president, in his alliterative citation of our places of liberation:

“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,” he said, “just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma and Stonewall.”

Seneca Falls, in 1848, was the first convention to be organized by women for their rights in the Western world, where the struggle for suffrage began with the radical Quakerism of Lucretia Mott and the secular logic of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Selma, in 1965, was where the three Civil Rights marches began. After Bloody Sunday (March 7), and then the Pettus Bridge (March 16), the third march reached Montgomery on March 24.

Stonewall, in 1969, was not the first riot by drag queens and other gay people, but is the one acknowledged today by mainstream American historians to have begun the LGBT struggle for visibility and equality.

None of these struggles are finished; none of these landmarks commemorate completed accomplishments. But having them mentioned by a newly re-sworn African-American president from the steps of the Capitol, in a single breath, in his second inaugural address, is a moment to savor. Much more work remains, but this acknowledgement of the road we have traveled together to freedom is significant.

Photograph of President Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover, autographed to J. Edgar Hoover, 1972 (NLEOMF on Flickr)
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