President Obama’s inauguration was groundbreaking for a number of reasons, not least of which for its explicit mentions of the LGBT community. Here are three key moments from Monday’s events that were in themselves little pieces of history.
1) Richard Blanco’s Moving Poem
Poet Richard Blanco was ticking boxes all over the place on Monday when he became the youngest ever poet to deliver an inauguration poem, as well as the first openly gay person and the first Hispanic person to recite verse at a POTUS inauguration event. It wasn’t just Blanco’s personal identity that made his appearance at the inauguration particularly remarkable, however. It was the breadth of the poem he delivered that spoke to the idea of equality for all that conjured a tone that seemed to permeate the entire event.
Watch it now:
2) Rev. Luis Leon Delivers Gay-Inclusive Benediction
After the controversy surrounding Rev. Louie Giglio, the original man of faith lined up to give the benediction who stepped down after fierce protest over an anti-gay sermon he made in the 90s that he has so far refused to denounce, it was refreshing to hear Giglio’s replacement Reverend Luis Leon deliver a sermon that specifically made mention of gay people.
Beyond just that affirmation, a first for any inaugural benediction, Leon’s benediction also gave a voice to the vast majority of moderate Christians who value the LGBT people in their lives and do not think of them as sinful. For this reason, Reverend Luis’ gay-inclusive benediction was doubly powerful in this regard.
We pray for your blessing because without it, we will see only what the eye can see. But 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 or immigrant American, or daughter of the American Revolution, gay or straight, rich or poor.
See it now:
3) President Obama Delivers a Gay Inclusive Inauguration Address
For the first time for any U.S. President, Obama made a specific mention of gay equality and, indeed, marriage equality in his inauguration address. Said Obama:
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.
President Obama also slipped in a mention of the Stonewall riots, the 1969 action at the Stonewall Inn in New York City that saw gay people rise up in a flash point that kindled the concerted efforts of a once disparate community to come together and demand their rights, setting it within the wider context 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.
Relive the inauguration address below:
This gay inclusive inauguration comes as the Supreme Court of the United States prepares to hear in March several marriage equality cases; the Court may consider the weight of public opinion, and in so doing President Obama’s second inauguration may feature as a landmark that shows in no uncertain terms that the majority of the American people consider gay inclusion absolutely non-negotiable when considering the ideal of equality.
Image credit: Thinkstock.