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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. remember, folks, millions of young LGBT people in classrooms across america, and from TV sets all over the world, just saw the President of the United States of America stand in solidarity and support with them.

    Kids who can find no love or acceptance in their homes or communities can look to their President to see that he is indeed "on their side."

    don't make light of that. it does more good than you can imagine.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 21, 2013 2:38:27 PM


  2. He gives good speeches; nobody can deny him that. If only his actions matched his speeches.......

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 21, 2013 2:38:44 PM


  3. his actions match his speeches more than you, Rick.

    you sure do love to spew your racism and bigotry and hatred, but you never have the balls to put a face to your comments.

    actually, that makes perfect sense for you.

    #S**tCowardlyTrollsSay

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 21, 2013 2:41:38 PM


  4. Executive orders are terrible and questionable.

    Why on earth would you want something so ambiguous and temporary as executive action when it came to such heavy matters?

    You would declare victory if an order were signed... and we wouldn't move forward in a meaningful way and we would become complacent because our victory would be 'won.'

    Except President Ryan would come in and, with a stroke of a pen, rescind those orders. And you'd cry that Obama was so short-sighted and terrible and blah blah blah....

    Posted by: John | Jan 21, 2013 2:44:50 PM


  5. Oh, lookie here, Michael Bedwell rears his head to question someone's "nom de net"? Tell us, Bedwell, how Leland Francis is doing. That was the fabricated "nom de net" you went by on this blog and others for years, no?

    Really, you're criticizing those who have an opinion for not serving in the military. Which branch was it you served in? And no, standing in Leonard Matlovich's shadow does not constitute service.

    The gall is all yours, you senile old fart.

    Posted by: ripper | Jan 21, 2013 2:47:48 PM


  6. I really think that criticising posters here because they are not US Americans is a bad mannered breach of civil behaviour.

    "Get out of America"....has been a refrain on many who can't take the sting of critical analysis. Any poster here has a right of post his/her views without the patronising self righteous exchange of...."You're not American" as a basis for discourse.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jan 21, 2013 2:47:49 PM


  7. Imagine if Obama took their advice when it came pushing to repeal DADT. He'd sign an executive order and every 4 years it would be a major issue. If a Republican were to win, they would easily knock it down to immediately please his or her base.

    Short sighted is what a lot of you are.

    Posted by: John | Jan 21, 2013 2:51:36 PM


  8. thank you, John, for a nuance understanding of why Executive Orders would have been as useful as tits on a fish.

    if only all the whiners had your discernment.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 21, 2013 2:51:38 PM


  9. It's telling that none of those criticizing my post refuted--or even tried to refute--any of my assertions of Obama's wrongs and failures. That's because Obama's horrible record cannot be refuted; it is fact. NO amount of spin can wash the stain out. That is why his supporters must resort--and in the above cases--did resort, to rhetoric and ad hominem attack. That's all they have. But like Obama's hollow words, their rhetoric and ad hominem attacks are easily exposed as specious too.

    For example, Michael in Toronto in effect says that anyone--including me--who criticizes President Obama is "simply racist." Obviously, the notion that criticism of a Black person by a non-Black person is inherently racist is racist itself--and not the other way round. This is Dr. King philosophy 101. You judge a person by the content of their character and not their skin color. Michael's comment is particularly specious given that criticism of the President--whoever he or she may be--is considered not only a First Amendment right, but morally appropriate in a democracy where officials are accountable to the people. Michael's idea that my criticizing Obama for discriminating against Americans is racist is simply incoherent in any system of morality or politics. Before moving on, I also note that under Michael's ridiculous philosphy, non-Whites who criticized George Bush or Richard Nixon, etc. were racist. You don't see Black Democrats flagellating themselves for being racists, do you?

    For the record, I don't hate Obama or his guts. I do think he has been a horrible president, has damaged this country (esp. putting trillions of dollars of debt on future generations) and is a profound bigot himself, based on his actions discriminating against Gays, Whites, etc. No one--Black or White, Gay or Straight, Male or Female, Christian or Muslim, etc.--should be discriminated against or should discriminate against. I'm not afraid to say that even if people like Michael accuse me of being racist. I practice King's philosophy of equality, so I have nothing to fear.

    John calls me "buzzkill." I'm not familiar with that slang, but, again, all a reasonable person can do in response to such name-calling is laugh and view John as a child who resorts to petty insults and thereby refutes himself. I should actually thank John for making my point.

    John and Little Kiwi disparage my describing Dan Choi as our equivalent of MLK., Jr. But the truth is that many others (besides me) in this country have put and continue to put Dan in that category, based on his leadership in the movement and his historical importance. Moreover, at least John is merely name-dropping--he doesn't have a clue as to what MLK, Jr. was really like. John should stop calling people names and pick up an MLK, Jr. biography. The man, though great, was far from a saint. John should particularly note that King profited monetarily from the copyrighting of his speeches and writings. King had some personal--if not mental--issues as well. According to at least two sources--Ralph Abernathy and David Garrow--as well as apparently illegal FBI surveillance records, King engaged in extramarital affairs, i.e., King cheated on Coretta Scott King, in part to deal with the mental anxiety of being a civil-rights leader. John should also note that King apparently somewhat kicked Bayard Rustin--the man who organized the "I Have A Dream" rally/March on Washington--to the curb when Rustin's sexuality became a liability to King's image. Finally, King clearly worked the press in his day as well. For example, King appeared on Meet the Press in 1960.

    So John's trying to differentiate Dan from King is patently specious. Moreover, John has no moral standing to attack Dan on the basis of Dan having had a mental breakdown. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and does not mean wrongdoing. Particularly when the illness is a result of being in the line of fire in standing up for right--such as standing up against discrimination, or going to war for your country--both of which Dan did.

    You're right, though, about the definition of democracy, John. For me it means actual equality and rule of law. For you and Obama it means an Orwellian world where rhetoric prevails and where "some animals are more equal than other animals"

    John and Little Kiwi and Michael well represent Obama--all fiction and no fact.

    Posted by: James E. Pietrangelo, II | Jan 21, 2013 3:30:19 PM


  10. When I heard Obama say "gay," tears welled up in my eyes. (And I'm a Jedi.)

    Posted by: Jedi | Jan 21, 2013 3:42:31 PM


  11. @James I'm curious, don't just call Obama a bigot you call him a profound bigot. That's a pretty strong charge. On what basis do you make these claims? How as Obama shown bigotry towards whites and gays?

    Posted by: Frank | Jan 21, 2013 4:12:02 PM


  12. @James I'm curious, you don't just call Obama a bigot, you call him a profound bigot. That's a pretty strong charge. On what basis do you make these claims? How has Obama shown bigotry towards whites and gays?

    Posted by: Frank | Jan 21, 2013 4:12:45 PM


  13. Yes, it's common knowledge that King was a womanizer, but that but that in no way diminishes his legacy; just like the problems of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Winston Churchill, and other great men throughout history do nothing to take away from their respective legacies. As for Bayard Rustin, from what I understand he wasn't kicked to the curb by King. In fact when Bayard's homosexuality came to light, it was King who was his biggest defender, and it was King who asked him to stay on in the movement. However, Bayard chose to resign on his own, rather than be used by those who sought the discredit and destroy the civil rights movement.

    Posted by: Frank | Jan 21, 2013 4:29:11 PM


  14. I can't be the only one who pictures James Pietrangelo sitting as his desk combing through a thesaurus.

    Posted by: ripper | Jan 21, 2013 4:31:08 PM


  15. Actually Little Kiwi and John, your thinking on the usefulness of executive orders, particularly one on DADT shows one-dimensional thinking and a lack of understanding as to their effect practically and politically.

    Let's clarify some FACTS and game out what would be the likely results would have been if Obama had even an ounce of courage on DADT: Let's suppose sometime in 2009 he had issued an executive order (authorized by law) barring the military from discharging servicemembers on account of their sexual orientation. That order would only be temporary as the President's authority only extends to periods when reserve forces have been called to active duty and could not have been continually renewed by President after President unless we stay in a state of perpetual war. In the intervening time, thousands of LGB servicemembers could come out of the closet without fear of being discharged while the order was in effect. Once the wars started winding down and forces drawn down, the conditions allowing the order would have expired and the military could resume discharging LGB servicemembers. What do you think the reaction of the American people would be in the military all of a sudden tried to discharge several thousand LGB servicemembers all at once instead of the relative trickle of 600-1200 per year since the law's inception? Polling already showed a supermajority favored a repeal of DADT. Don't you think that it would place immense pressure on Congress to do the right thing or face a heavy political consequence? The pressure wouldn't be on Obama as he did what he was capable of doing to alleviate the inequality of the law. All focus, all pressure would have been on Congress, the only body with the full authority to solve the problem. The LGBT front wouldn't have been divided as we were on trying to get Obama to lead while trying to get Congress to do something. The order having existed would have united the LGBT community, the administration and the American people to focus like a laser on Congress and we quite easily could have gotten a much better repeal, one that included a non-discrimination clause (the brass can discriminate against you in promotions based on your sexual orientation without it) and compensation for those patriots like Choi and Pietrangelo who were so wrongly discharged under an unconstitutional law. The Log Cabin Republican's lawsuit could have been a similar bargaining chip Obama could have used to get a repeal, but instead he smashed that bargaining chip into millions of pieces with a hammer. Obama refused every opportunity to back anti-equality foes (Republican AND Democrat) into a corner where the only way out was precisely the result Obama claimed to want (a DADT repeal).

    Posted by: Craig | Jan 21, 2013 4:33:39 PM


  16. The Employment Non-Discrimination Executive Order is similar in that it will focus attention towards Congress precisely because the order lacks permanence having to be renewed by each President, but that is not a bad thing. During the height of WWII, FDR issued an order banning defense contractors from discriminating on the basis of race. A few months later, he expanded it to include all federal contractors. Truman built onto FDR's orders, Eisenhower further strengthened them and so did Kennedy. And those order provided necessary stepping stones toward the goal of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The CRA wouldn't have happened if those foundational non-discrimination EOs and Truman's desegregation of the military EO hadn't been issued. Obama is denying us the same path towards passage of ENDA, SNDA, HNDA and other laws that would accomplish the same thing as the CRA. Moreover, the currently active non-discrimination order binding federal contractors and based on the earlier EO's was issued by LBJ and it is even more expansive than the CRA. Federal contractors have greater protection from discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color, national origin and sex than people that don't work for federal contractors thanks to LBJ's EO. If y'all two are so opposed to protections granted by executive order, are you advocating Obama stripe those extra protections federal contractors have thanks to LBJ's EO, an EO every President since LBJ has renewed? What do you think the political consequences would be if Obama did rescind that EO?

    Think. Stop just blindly defending Obama and his passive homophobia. He's not your boyfriend.

    Posted by: Craig | Jan 21, 2013 4:34:28 PM


  17. Politically naive if you think an executive order will spur Congress to action.

    It will make them complacent - and they'll do nothing. The problem will have been 'solved.' That is the natural state of Congress, left right or middle.

    If you don't have to take a potentially difficult vote, why would you?

    An executive order 'repealing' DADT would've been symbolic and anyone serious about their career in the military would have stayed put in the closet.

    Congress can't even pass a debt limit measure with the pressure of the entire world's economy on their heads... what gives you hope that a Republican House would pass a DADT repeal on its own?

    They would sit on their hands, at best, and just wait til they regained the presidency.

    Short sighted, indeed, people. Mature politically, please.

    Posted by: John | Jan 21, 2013 5:43:58 PM


  18. President Obama is a great guy with a good heart. The fact that he mentioned gays in his historic speech is a sign of the times. Now, if only other people in the U.S.A., especially the Republicans, would come into the 21st Century with him........

    Posted by: Dave From Canada | Jan 21, 2013 5:52:38 PM


  19. why can't the men complaining about Obama show their faces?

    never mind. i know the answer. :D

    and Pietrangelo, I didn't make any comments in regards to Choi/MLK. re-read, sugarpie.

    and, who did you vote for in the last election?

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 21, 2013 5:58:37 PM


  20. why can't the men complaining about Obama show their faces?

    never mind. i know the answer. :D

    and Pietrangelo, I didn't make any comments in regards to Choi/MLK. re-read, sugarpie.

    and, who did you vote for in the last election?

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 21, 2013 5:58:38 PM


  21. Distinction doesn't matter with James. He's fighting shadows and men who are on his side. He creates his enemies. He fits his cause around his preconceived notions... Obama is a 'profound bigot', racist against white people, wants to bankrupt future generations, etc. He would fit right at home with Fox News.

    He is a man whom, I suspect, feels unfit for these times. He's someone afraid of change... someone who fears diversity. He sees a black man as President, and he is angered by all these brown people living and working and, more importantly, voting. He is the the last gasp of a different age... though I find him extreme and harsh, I have a lot of sympathy for him.

    Posted by: John | Jan 21, 2013 6:13:36 PM


  22. I was making candles while Mr. Obama was giving his speech. I was enjoying it and listening intently. He said the line about Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall; and I lost it.
    I wasn't expecting him to say anything about the LGBT community and I knew when he said it that it was a first. The feeling was indescribable. Patriotism mixed with a sense of legitimacy and being included in the national struggle for equality.

    It was a moving moment.

    Posted by: Mike Hipp | Jan 21, 2013 7:15:57 PM


  23. Mr Obama is a good man and his speech was excellent. He clearly intends to be a more forceful and progressive President in his 2nd term. As a lifelong democrat, a Navy veteran and a gay man, I couldn't be prouder of our Commander-In-Chief. Hail To The Chief !!!

    Posted by: andrew | Jan 21, 2013 8:26:51 PM


  24. @ James E. Pietrangelo,

    Your comments over the years have been consistently racist. You're obsessed with Obama's race, as anyone can see in your history of comments. I could say, "Give it a rest," but I know you won't. Your Great White Hope, Mitt Romney, lost. Too bad for you.

    Posted by: Artie_in_Lauderdale | Jan 21, 2013 8:55:26 PM


  25. Historic. He's been putting some action behind those words and we can expect more. So proud to have him as our president.

    Posted by: Seattle Mike | Jan 21, 2013 10:50:01 PM


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