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From Selma to Stonewall

In his second inaugural address, at the dawn of the twenty first century, President Barack Obama orated the words,

"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. .... 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."*
source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/21/inaugural-address-president-barack-obama

In a single speech our leader gave equivalence to  the start of women's suffrage, black civil rights, and gay rights. In a single speech he invoked the first words of our Constitution, "We The People," and the first words of the second paragraph of our Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."  No words in human history can have more significance than declaring 'the will of the people' over those who would rule us; and in stating the most basic human value.  Somewhat more subtly, he spoke of "the star that guides us still...," likely referring to The North Star, the abolitionist newspaper published by Frederick Douglass.

The weight of these words, at the start of Barack Obama's second term as President of the United States of America, evoked awe and dismay in the throats of Congressional opponents of our freedom, who were heard muttering something like, "The era of liberalism is back..." (Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, on Tuesday January 22nd).  In fact, I believe, the President's words mark a return to true original American ideals after a period in which our American values were twisted and dragged through the mud of selfish bigotry.  How is it that these opponents can dare to stand in our American Capitol building and express dismay over the expression of the definition of the founding of our nation? Are they so lost in partisanship and hate that they have forgotten their oath of office, that they have forgotten and lost their patriotism in what it means to be an American?  One of the two bibles upon which Barack Obama swore his oath of office belonged to the founder of the Republican Party, President Abraham Lincoln.  Have the opponents of equality forgotten what he began, what he stood for, what he died for?  As an American, their incomprehension of Lincoln's patriotism offends me.  Shame on them!

Like Lincoln, President Obama had the historical courage to proclaim his commitment to the liberty of those Americans who have been oppressed and denied full freedom. While each had the intent from the start to stand up for equality, it took time for the resolve of each of these presidents to evolve.  Lincoln issued the equivalent of an Executive Order in The Emancipation Proclamation, in 1863, while our Congress could not bring themselves to progress that which our founders had begun.  It took our Congress some two decades to enact the freedom President Truman had the courage to create in his Executive Order integrating our armed forces in 1948.

We should not overlook the historical significance of the members of the Supreme Court of the United States being seated in the front rows within a few feet of President Obama as he proclaimed his commitment to our freedom.  Within the next few months, they will decide whether the Defense of Marriage Act, barring federal recognition of same sex marriage, is unconstitutional or not.  He has challenged them, along with our Congressional leaders seated with them.  If they fail to move forward; it seems clear that President Obama has the courage and patriotism to follow Lincoln and Truman in furthering American freedom.

-Denny Meyer, former Sgt First Class USAR, Gay Veteran

*Full Quote: 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.  (Applause.)  Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.  (Applause.)  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.
The complete address is available on the White House website at:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/21/inaugural-address-president-barack-obama

  2013 Gay Military Signal