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Obama Calls for Gay Equality in Inaugural Address: VIDEO, TRANSCRIPT

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President Obama called for equality for gay and lesbian Americans in his 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.

He also referenced the Stonewall riots with other civil rights battles, tying it into the legacy of MLK Jr.:

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.

This was the first use of the word "gay" ever by a President in an inaugural address.

Video and full remarks as prepared for delivery, AFTER THE JUMP...

January 21, 2013

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
Inaugural Address
Monday, January 21, 2013
Washington, DC
 
As Prepared for Delivery –
 
Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
 
Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.  We affirm the promise of our democracy.  We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names.  What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
 
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
 
Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time.  For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.  The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob.  They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
 
For more than two hundred years, we have.
 
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.  We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.
 
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.
 
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.
 
Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.
 
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone.  Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.
 
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.  For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.  No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.
 
This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience.  A decade of war is now ending.  An economic recovery has begun.  America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands:  youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.   My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.
 
For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.  We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.  We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.  We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.
 
We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time.  We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.  But while the means will change, our purpose endures:  a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American.  That is what this moment requires.  That is what will give real meaning to our creed. 
 
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.  We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.  But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.  For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us.  They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.
 
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.  We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.  The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult.  But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.  We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.  That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks.  That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.  That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
 
We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.  Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage.  Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.  The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm.  But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.
 
We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.  We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.  America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.  We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.  And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes:  tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.
 
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.
 
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.  For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.  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.  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.  Our journey is not complete until all our 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.
 
That is our generation’s task – to make these words, these rights, these values – of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – real for every American.  Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness.  Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time.
 
For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay.  We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.  We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect.  We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.
 
My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.  But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream.  My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.
 
They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.
 
You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.
 
You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time – not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.
 
Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright.  With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
 
Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.

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Comments

  1. Truly a speech of equality, lgbt mentioned well and loud. Good speech and a fine President US got and the world can breath freely without being nervous about the WH politics for the next four years.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Jan 21, 2013 12:46:43 PM


  2. This was historic. As we push for our right to marriage equality (here in Illinois, we're getting ready to vote on it), these words send a powerful message. I honestly think this will be an important moment in LGBT history.

    Posted by: Terry | Jan 21, 2013 12:49:00 PM


  3. So. Effing. Cool.

    Posted by: Mikey | Jan 21, 2013 12:57:36 PM


  4. blessings on gay people specifically called for in the closing prayer as well.

    I am told that since the speech Stonewall has become a trending topic on twitter.

    Posted by: melvin | Jan 21, 2013 1:03:44 PM


  5. So proud the correct person was inaugurated today! What a speech!

    Posted by: Gary A | Jan 21, 2013 1:06:15 PM


  6. Amazing Grace. To be recognized by the leader of the free world, our President of the United States Barack H. Obama. To be accepted. Never ever before has this happened. A revelation. A true revelation.

    Posted by: T | Jan 21, 2013 1:15:52 PM


  7. just watched the Inauguration Speech.....what a great shout-out and support for gay and lesbian people.......just wonderful.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jan 21, 2013 1:20:41 PM


  8. Yes.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 21, 2013 1:20:54 PM


  9. Once again I am thankful that the right man was elected.

    Posted by: jht | Jan 21, 2013 1:23:39 PM


  10. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. A speech for the ages.

    Thank you, Mr. President!

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 21, 2013 1:25:34 PM


  11. Glory, glory halleluja. An eloquent affirmation of all who fight for freedom and equality. Hey Supremes, are you paying attention?

    Posted by: Onnyjay | Jan 21, 2013 1:27:27 PM


  12. Ironic that the very tyrant who as President enforced discrimination against Gays and has done nothing to remedy the harm that he caused, who opposed Gay equality when the issue came before the Supreme Court in 2009, who refuses to sign an executive order making non-discrimination based on sexual orientation a reality in the military and among federal contractors, who until recently opposed Gay marriage, who when he finally came out for Gay marriage qualified his support as from him as a person and not as President, who believes that marriage is a matter for the states, who has turned a blind eye for four years to the violence that is being done to indigenous Gays in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places in the world, who allowed Gays in the US State Department and other federal agencies to be discriminated against, who vindictively and selectively prosecuted and is still prosecuting the Gay-rights movement's equivalent of MLK,Jr., Dan Choi, because Choi dared to criticize President Obama on discriminating against Gays, should be hailed by anyone as a Gay- rights advocate. Obama discovered a long time ago, before he became president, that all he had to do is smile and tell people that he "loves them" and they get all misty-eyed and will do anything for him because they have such low self-esteem. It's Orwellian. And Obama's disgraceful record on Gay rights is just the beginning. Civil liberties' advocates on both sides of the aisle--from law professor Jonathan Turley to civil-rights attorney John Whitehead--have decried the loss of civil liberties in general for Americans across the board under Obama. Some day democracy will return to America, and there will be true equality. Not just empty political rhetoric.

    Posted by: James E. Pietrangelo, II | Jan 21, 2013 1:40:11 PM


  13. Such a tremendously long way to go.... but a DARN GOOD START! He rocks!

    Posted by: cdubois | Jan 21, 2013 1:43:16 PM


  14. Hey, Pietrangelo, who'd you vote for in the last election?

    kthanks. :D

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 21, 2013 1:51:05 PM


  15. First, Dan Choi is no where near being on the same level as Martin Luther King Jr., so lets get that straight. Secondly, I think gay people are just enjoying the fact that they are finally getting some attention from the government, specifically the chief executive officer in charge of this country. That's something that has never happened in the history of this country. Does that mean people will stop holding Obama accountable for his actions if he doesn't follow through on what he promises? Not at all. It just means that sometimes it's good to take a step back and enjoy the history of a moment.

    Posted by: Frank | Jan 21, 2013 1:52:47 PM


  16. LOL
    ditto on what Littlekiwi said

    Posted by: Moz's | Jan 21, 2013 1:58:47 PM


  17. No, but seriously. Pietrangelo, whom did you vote for in the election?

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 21, 2013 2:01:05 PM


  18. OBAMA!

    Posted by: Jacqueline | Jan 21, 2013 2:05:21 PM


  19. 'S Wonderful.

    It's such a tragedy to me that so many Americans hate the man's guts. SImple racism.

    And that Republicans are fighting him every inch of the way.

    Posted by: Michael in Toronto | Jan 21, 2013 2:09:17 PM


  20. James E. Pietrangelo... buzz kill! And you lose all credibility when you compare Choi with MLK. If a media-seeking, mentally unstable, for-profit shill is 'our MLK', God help us all.

    "Some day democracy will return to America..."

    I don't think democracy means what you think it means.

    Posted by: John | Jan 21, 2013 2:13:02 PM


  21. i wouldn't discount or denigrate Choi. He's been though a lot, and his behavior over time became pretty textbook. Dude was exhausted.

    I'll discount Pietrangelo, though. big time.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 21, 2013 2:17:08 PM


  22. Obama addressing gay equality sends such a powerful message to those in the fence on the issue(s), it influences (those undecided) people directly. It's not just empty words delivered to sound good.

    By getting behind same-sex marriage last year - I think he influenced voting & election results this past Nov. in several states. His words yesterday will have the same effect but more so.

    It looks like we're on a roll here finally, and about time.

    Posted by: JT | Jan 21, 2013 2:28:25 PM


  23. The person hiding behind the Nom de Net Little Kiwi is never at a loss for gall, but it takes OCEANS of it for a CANADIAN citizen like him who not only CANNOT vote in our election but has never served in OUR military defending our freedom to dare attack James Pietrangelo who IS an American citizen and HAS defended his country in uniform. Apparently not having read OUR Constitution, permit me to explain that it contains NO prerequisite for voting for any specific candidate—nor at all—to express an opinion. But, of course, your REAL purpose in ONCE AGAIN attempting to shoot the Messenger is to distract from the FACTS in his message. I do not agree with all of it, but that is a very different matter than your pattented method of simply trying to slime anyone you disagree with, Oh Non-American. FAIL.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 21, 2013 2:31:04 PM


  24. IF YOU GENUINELY WANT YOUR “gay brothers and sisters [to be] treated like anyone else under the law,” Mr. President, if you TRULY believe that “if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well,” that “progress … require[s] us to act in our time,” that “decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay,” that “we must act… we must act….,” then there will be NO MORE DELAY—no WAITING on the NEXT Secretary of Defense to take office MONTHS away—YOU will use YOUR unequivocal authority to order the Pentagon to STOP treating both individual gay and lesbian service members and those in partnerships UNequally NOW; YOU will use that same authority to ban discrimination against LGBTs by federal contractors; and YOU will order YOUR Department of Justice to enter a friend of the court brief telling the Supreme Court that both DOMA and Prop 8 should be overturned. These words were beautiful, but on these issues it is past time to act, Mr. President. ACT!

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 21, 2013 2:31:17 PM


  25. He was inarticulate and self-promoting. Just because his cause was just doesn't mean we can't criticize him.

    Charging gay college groups in rural America thousands of dollars in speaking fees and first-class travel expenses... is a bit much.

    I understand charging a fee to support himself... but $10,000 a visit is a bit much.

    Now he's tagging himself to every cause imaginable - last I heard he was arrested in protest of the Keystone pipeline.

    Posted by: John | Jan 21, 2013 2:31:26 PM


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