Jan 22 2013

 

Stonewall_inn_nytimes

Journalist and commentator Michelangelo Signorile writes for Huff Post Gay Voices that the President's Inauguration speech was historic in every sense. By placing Stonewall with Selma and Seneca ensure that our epic struggle for freedom was a peer of previous great civil rights movements.

Signorile writes:

"President Obama didn't just make history by becoming the first president to refer to "our gay brothers and sisters" in an inaugural address. That alone was a stunner: he put gay rights on the agenda for his second term in a way no other president had committed to before.

But by referring to the Stonewall riots of 1969 in the same sentence as Seneca Falls and Selma, he also put LGBT rights within the context of the great civil rights movements in American history. Standing before the Republican leaders fighting against gay rights, the Supreme Court which will be deciding on gay rights this year, and the American people who are fast embracing gay rights, the president made it clear that there is no separating LGBT rights from the struggles for equality by women and people of color. This passage, in which the president cast the individuals who stood up to the police at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar that was raided in Greenwich Village in the summer of '69 -- the drag queens and lesbians, the gay men and transgender people -- as our "forebears," is truly amazing and powerful:"

The journalist continues:

"President Obama rightly defined the issue of LGBT rights as one that reflected the most basic values of the founding fathers and the Constitution, which he quoted from several times: "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal..." It was a challenge not only to those on the anti-gay right but also to those in other civil rights movements, to stand up for full equality, to see gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people as truly discriminated against in ways similar to other groups fighting for equal treatment under the law.

That may not seem big to some, but much of the history of the LGBT rights movement and Democratic politicians has been rife with a view that gays should have some rights but are somehow different from -- lesser than -- other groups seeking equality. For the first African-American president to say in an inaugural address that, no, discrimination is discrimination, is profound.

And by proclaiming that "our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law" and that "the love we commit to one another must be equal as well," the president challenged all Americans to support marriage equality. Here is a man who, less than a year ago, was still "evolving" on the issue himself, and being pressured by the very activists, like Joe Sudbay, who got him to admit he was in evolution. Now, here he is, not only fully evolved, having run on the issue during the election campaign and having urged voters in four states to vote for equality; he's confidently and proudly saying so in his inaugural address, one of the most important, defining speeches a president can give, and telegraphing to the country and the world that they should evolve fully too"

Read Signorile's entire column by clicking here.....