President Obama’s speech for his second inauguration broke new ground in inclusiveness, with the first use of the word “gay” in reference to sexual orientation and a call for LGBT equality.
“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,” Obama said.
He also invoked the Stonewall riots of 1969, which marked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement, as a milestone in civil rights history. “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,” the president said.
Gay CNN reporter Anderson Cooper commented on the historic nature of the speech. “For a president who only recently, to use his word, evolved on the issue of same-sex marriage, he made very forceful statements in this inaugural address, actually, historic statements on equal rights for gay and lesbian Americans,” Cooper said.
The Reverend Luis Leon, who delivered the benediction, or closing prayer, also sounded a message of inclusiveness, saying, “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.”
The inaugural poem was delivered by Richard Blanco, a Latino man who was the first openly gay poet selected for the job.
Watch video of Obama’s speech, Leon’s benediction, and Blanco’s poem below.