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Popular Topics in Social Sciences
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Topics In the News
 
President Obama's Inclusive Inauguration
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 01/21/13
Last updated on: 01/21/13
 
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On January 21, 2013, President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden were inaugurated for their second term in a notably inclusive ceremony. The President declared that "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 each other must be equal as well." He also evoked the Stonewall Rebellion as a pivotal historical moment in the long struggle toward equal rights. In addition, openly gay poet Richard Blanco read a poem whose theme was the commonalities Americans share and Episcopal priest Rev. Luis Leon prayed for an end to prejudice and rancor and specifically evoked gays and lesbians.

Fittingly for an inauguration that took place on the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the President evoked the slain civil rights leader and also connected pivotal moments in the struggle for equal rights for women, African Americans, and glbtq people.

He said, "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."

He also said in words that seemed directed to the members of the Supreme Court of the United States, "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."

Richard Blanco's beautiful poem, "One Today," which emphasizes the unity Americans share even as we are divided in so many ways, includes the following poignant stanza.

"One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes

tired from work: some days guessing at the weather

of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love

that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother

who knew how to give, or forgiving a father

who couldn't give what you wanted."

The entire poem may be found here.

In addition, the Lesbian and Gay Band Association, a musical organization comprising marching and concert bands from across the United States and around the world, was included in the inaugural parade. The 215-piece band that marched in the parade is composed of members of LGBA bands, orchestras, and cheer squads from 27 states. More information about the band's participation may be found here.

Finally, the White House has announced that the Interfaith Prayer Service at the National Cathedral, to be held on Tuesday morning, January 22, will include the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, moderator and international leader of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), a denomination founded 45 years ago by the Rev. Troy Perry as a church open to glbtq people.

The video below presents the President's Inaugural Address.

The video below presents Blanco reading "One Today."

The video below presents Rev. Luis Leon's benediction.

 
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