Barack Obama | Inauguration | News

Gay Reactions from Around the Web to Obama's Historic 'Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall' Inauguration Speech


A few reactions from around the web to President Obama's historic inaugural gay rights statements:

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....

...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.

Frank Bruni:

The causes of gay Americans and black Americans haven’t always existed in perfect harmony, and that context is critical for appreciating Obama’s reference to Stonewall alongside Selma. Blacks have sometimes questioned gays’ use of “civil rights” to describe their own movement, and have noted that the historical experiences of the two groups aren’t at all identical. Obama moved beyond that, focusing on the shared aspirations of all minorities. It was a big-hearted, deliberate, compelling decision.

He went on, seconds later, to explicitly mention “gay” Americans, saying a word never before uttered in inaugural remarks. What shocked me most about that was how un-shocking it was...

...Four years ago the inaugural invocation was given by a pastor with a record of antigay positions and remarks. This year, a similar assignment was withdrawn from a pastor with a comparable record, once it came to light. What’s more, an openly gay man was chosen to be the inaugural poet, and in news coverage of his biography, his parents’ exile from Cuba drew more attention than his sexual orientation. That’s how far we’ve come.

Andrew Sullivan:

Obama included these references rightly in the context of other struggles. This is not about identity politics but human and civic equality that goes far beyond the gay experience. But sometimes you have to remember how far we have come, with this man pushed relentlessly forward by our pressure and by our conversations with each other. On the weekend we celebrate the memory of the assassinated Dr King, we also re-elect the country's black president, who also happens to be finally embracing the civil rights cause of his time and ours'.

So forgive me genuflecting a little before this moment - but I didn't think I'd ever live to see it. I didn't just see it, but heard and felt it - and saw in this morning and early afternoon a tableau of democratic diversity that was indeed, to my mind, a city on a hill, deeply shifting, in its symbolism and multicultural dynamism, the "opinion of mankind" and our global future.

Jonathan Capehart:

Obama has not been shy about talking inclusively about gays and lesbians. But his words, said with confidence and conviction from that spot on this day go well beyond what he or any president before him has ever done. Obama listed Stonewall among this country’s great social movements. And his call for marriage equality using the megaphone of an inaugural address with its global audience will be remembered as a pivotal moment in the gay rights movement.

The power of what Obama did today was eloquently summed up by my friend Jeffrey Martin in Illinois. “Amazing to hear gay people recognized so much, so clearly, so naturally throughout the ceremony,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Amazing. I feel more fully American today. Not completely yet, but we are moving closer.”

David Mixner:

He lifted us up from a contentious issue to a civil rights struggle that must be won in order for the Declaration of Independence to have meaning. He embraced our right to love and marry.

Those who have doubts about his commitment to our epic struggle, clearly don't want to hear his powerful and inclusive words that were heard in every home around the world.  Most importantly, the words were heard by the United States Supreme Court Justices sitting right behind the President!...

...Today was America's day with everyone included and no person left behind. From the struggles of young immigrants wanting an education, to women desiring equal pay for equal work, to the poor desiring income to feed the children and to those who simply aspire to be a new greatness...this was their day too.

Richard Socarides:

Not only was this a call to end discrimination, but an unambiguous argument for the recognition of same-sex marriage across the country. For a President who announced his support for marriage equality less than a year ago, after more reluctance (and suggestions about what could be left to the states) than many would have liked, this was a bold declaration from perhaps the boldest platform of all.

Michelangelo Signorile:

There's much pressure on the president to deliver on a variety of equality issues and match his words with actions. He's still not signed an executive order that would ban federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people. The Justice Department has not filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Prop 8 case before the Supreme Court. The military is still not equal in the aftermath of "don't ask, don't tell' repeal, with no ban on discrimination against gays in the armed forces, and there's fear that Obama's Defense Secretary nominee, former Nebraska GOP Senator Chuck Hagel, will not take up the issue with force.

By putting full equality and marriage rights in such a defining speech, however, and making history in the process, as the first president to refer to the struggle for gay equality in his inaugural address, President Obama has laid out a promise in perhaps the most powerful way he could.

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  1. It was a great day.

    Posted by: Frank O'File | Jan 22, 2013 10:00:55 AM

  2. I take it no women had anything to say about the inaugural

    Posted by: mikey | Jan 22, 2013 10:06:50 AM

  3. Lincoln freed the salves and Obama will free the gays.

    Posted by: Grant | Jan 22, 2013 11:11:18 AM

  4. Even with the steps Obama has taken for LGBT rights ( more then any previous President has even cared to attempt) you still have this sort of half hearted backhanded compliments from some in the community as if Obama hasn't helped change the hearts and minds of many for the movement in a very short amount of time. You have seen more movement for equal rights for the lgbt community in the last four years then we've ever seen..thats not a coincidence. So some can either stop with the pettiness and help him fight for rights or keep up ignorant bs and watch rights be turned back should the next President be a Republican. I often wounder if the lgbt community would be so demanding of Hillary had she won, or would she have actually had breathing room to work. While I am happy about the progress made and the huge steps Obama has taken for lgbt rights I realize theres more to be done and he'll need help. I really hope in his second term people do more then sit on the sidelines ankle biting, because that is unimpressive. The time is now the lgbt community to makethe move. its difficult watching Obama get lectured to by some about rights when the world is watching the man get treated like a second class citizen by some in his own country. Some need to step off the soap box and admit the fact they were wrong about his inteintentions for the lgbt community and help keep up the fight.

    Posted by: hmmm | Jan 22, 2013 11:28:52 AM

  5. My respect to the man for giving a relatively painless and SHORT speech. I'm sure everybody else is thankful for this.

    It's nice he mentioned Stonewall. I'm not being sarcastic,I'm sincere. But for him and everybody else with any influence and power,ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. Words are easy...especially for politicians.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 22, 2013 11:37:32 AM

  6. @Hmmm,

    Are you serious? Who is treating the twice elected president of the U.S. as 'second class'?

    Truth be known, the president is grabbing as much power as he can, constitutionally and otherwise, and has implemented laws through executive order that severely restrict citizen's rights.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 22, 2013 11:39:55 AM

  7. You forgot to include a quote from GOProud's Members.

    I'll reprint it here, verbatim:

    "But...he's...he's BLACK. He's A BLACK! A BLACK PERSON! He's not white like us, he's BLACK!"

    Yes, boys. And he's the President.


    Truly one of those most powerful and moving speeches from a President. This man has cemented himself on the winning side of history. There are countless young people growing up in anti-gay homes in anti-gay communities, and they got to see (as did the rest of the world) that their President believes in their worth, and stands up for them and by them. Never discount the impact that has on those who need hope.

    Well Met, Mr. President.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 22, 2013 11:59:33 AM

  8. Bravo to Mr. Signorile for saluting the rhetorical significance of Mr. Obama's remarks WITHOUT ignoring the President's own failure to live up to them in several key ways—at least thus far. We'd like to believe that the meeting last Friday between White House "LGBT liaison" Gautam Raghavan and unnamed "LGBT advocates" inexplicably intended to be secret but, per the "Washington Blade," leaked by one of the attendees "who spoke on condition of not being identified," gave them a preview of things he'll soon be doing to turn words into action as Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and Clinton did in other ways before him.

    But, as the article at the link below details, on the issue of whether he will order his DOJ to submit a friend of the court brief to the Supremes calling for the overturn of DOMA and Prop 8 as Freedom to Marry and Prop 8 co-challenger attorney Ted Olson have urged, his Press Secretary this morning refused to say Yes or No. More disturbingly, he reiterated the President's position that marriage equality is a "states rights" issue which too few understand would INCLUDE the "right" of a state to ban it.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 22, 2013 2:48:45 PM

  9. Lil' C*unt,

    You're an incredible moron.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 22, 2013 2:52:00 PM

  10. "Failure" ?????
    what have you done to change our community?
    Where are you in this?
    Show me what you have done
    You think at a snap of his fingers he can change it all?

    Do you know how our government works?

    Posted by: fd | Jan 22, 2013 9:55:58 PM

  11. It's nice that he said it but until he supports and acts on providing FULL EQUALITY for us he's basically just using us for free publicity.

    Yes I voted for him. Yes I think the Democrats are the best party to be in government. Yes I would vote for Obama again tomorrow if I had to do it all again BUT I don't think he has ever truly supported us. He doesn't hate us like the Republicans but he doesn't support us either. The fact is he was struggling to keep up with Romney's fundraising and the polls were not looking good then gay rights groups such as HRC told him unless he did more for us they would not give him the $40 million+ they had planned for him. PRESTO ! Overnight Obama "evolves" and he gets the money.

    Now he goes back again to saying gay marriage is "not a Federal issue". Well Obama you either support us fully or you don't support us at all. Half equal rights is not supporting us or treating us as equal human beings. We have been there before in this country and that was called "separate but equal". It wasn't good then and it's not acceptable now.

    You can bet that if slavery or anything relating to skin color was still an issue Obama would immediately say that was a "Federal issue".

    Obama is supportive when he wants our money, our votes or to look good in front of young voters.


    We have NANCY PELOSI to thank for all the gay rights progress made during the last four years. She was the one pushing for us constantly even when people like Barney Frank gave up.

    We need Hillary Clinton as our next President with Nancy Pelosi as VP.

    Posted by: Icebloo | Jan 23, 2013 12:54:28 AM

  12. I will happily vote for the Carter/Pelosi ticket, just as I did for the Obama/Biden ticket....twice.

    Posted by: Goodcarver | Jan 23, 2013 9:07:05 AM

  13. Please excuse...the Clinton/Pelosi ticket.

    Posted by: Goodcarver | Jan 23, 2013 9:08:38 AM

  14. the quotes are all from white men
    what's up with that
    pretty lame

    of course not quite as lame as limited as LK
    but that would be hard to pull off

    Posted by: jw | Jan 23, 2013 10:23:39 PM

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