Every fourth November, America elects a president. And every fourth January, we inaugurate that president on the steps of the United States Capitol, typically in freezing weather. Despite the freeze, hundreds of thousands of Americans show up to hear the newly-elected President speak, to see him walk the road to the White House, and to enjoy a parade that celebrates all that is wonderful about our democracy.
Every now and then, a president steps up to the podium to deliver his (or someday, hopefully, her) address to the country, and makes history in so doing. Last time, it was the nation’s first African-American president who, just by virtue of being African-American, was able to make history. This time, he did it again — by acknowledging, for the first time, the civil rights battle of our generation:
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.
– Barack Obama
Sure, it’s just a single sentence pulled out of a 20-minute speech. Sure, that’s relatively minor. But, even in Western democracies, such a statement is considered quite notable and unprecedented when given by the leader of a country. Sure, it’s been said by lesser politicians, but the figurehead of a major Western power? Not until today.
Hearing those unprecended words from our first-ever African-American president on this Inauguration Day, which happens to fall on the one day a year when we explicitly honor civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., was more powerful than can be reasonably explained in words. At least, it was for me — and, judging by headlines and reactions, for many other Americans with a vested interest in the movement for LGBT equality here and around the world.
I sometimes have my disagreements with Barack Obama, which should be expected since I am far to his political left. But not a day goes by when I am not extremely, extremely, extremely proud of my vote and thankful for the outcome of the past two elections.
Now, back to work.