The Inauguration of LGBT Rights

  BY KI THOMPSON

I always get goose bumps each time I watch a presidential inauguration, but never have I felt such emotion as I did yesterday with the second inaugural of Barack Obama.

Photo by Kathi Isserman

Photo by Kathi Isserman

Of course Obama’s first inauguration was historic in its own right, and was made more so by being the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln – a milestone acknowledged by the use of the Lincoln bible during the swearing-in. The symbolism and promise in that moment made me so proud to be an American. This second inaugural had its own share of milestones: the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the installation of the statue of Freedom atop the Capitol building, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s, “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as well as the fact that it was MLK Day.

Photo by Kathi Isserman

Photo by Kathi Isserman

But for me, the emotion came not from these symbols but from the words of the President’s speech when he noted the struggles from Seneca Falls and Selma to Stonewall. I was especially moved by his reference to the Declaration of Independence that if we are all created equal, then surely that must include gays and lesbians. And if we are equal, then our love must also be equal. This as the justices of the Supreme Court, about to hear the important cases on this very issue, sat nearby. Most of us remember a time when being in the closet was de rigueur, and some of us are still there because of our jobs or for other reasons. These words from the President of the United States will be forever enshrined in the pantheon of historic moments in our nation’s ongoing struggle for civil rights.

BSBers at Baltimore Pride

BSBers at Baltimore Pride

I was married three years ago in Washington, DC because it was not legal to do so in my home state. Last year, the legislature in the state of Maryland passed a law making it legal and recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. This incredible achievement was marred by a referendum aimed at overturning the law through the ballot. Fortunately the referendum was defeated by voters in November and effective January 1st same-sex couples are able to marry in the state. In addition to DC, there are now 9 states that perform same-sex marriages. Let’s hope those justices take the President’s words to heart as they take on the Defense of Marriage Act.

As we move forward over the next four years and beyond, I have a renewed sense of hope in the future of our country. I feel the tide of change shifting as more Americans open their hearts and minds to the gay community, welcoming us to the patchwork quilt of diversity that has always been America and makes us stronger. And while I know we still have a long road ahead of us, I recall the words of Dr. King who said, “Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

Photo by Kathi Isserman

Photo by Kathi Isserman

10 Responses to “The Inauguration of LGBT Rights”


  1. 1 S.A. January 22, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    Wonderful blog! Here in Washington State, we also last November successfully rebuffed a referendum attempting to undo the legalization of same-sex marriage in our state. LGBT rights are the civil rights issues of the day, and I too am hopeful with all the progress we’ve been making of late in particular.

    Like

  2. 2 Nancy Nunes January 22, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    Great blog! Here in CA we await the Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8 this spring.

    Like

  3. 3 Shelley Thrasher January 22, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    Very well said, KI. Your grasp of history enriches all of us.

    Like

  4. 4 Connie January 22, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    Excellent KI! The President’s speech leaves us with hope. The pictures were beautiful too. I remember the Pride Parade well. 🙂 Thanks.

    Like

  5. 5 Kate January 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Obama’s speeches always make me cry! Yesterday’s was no different. I wish he could run again next time. We’ve come so far in the last four years. Much further than I, or probably any of us, believed possible. He has done so much to change our world. Using the inaugural platform to encourage equal rights for gay people is a gift none of us will ever forget. We must all carry on the struggle. Thank you for the blog. You said it all just right!

    Like

  6. 6 Debby January 22, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Times are changing for the better, thank goodness. The closet is again becoming a place to hang clothes only! Let’s keep moving in that direction.🙂

    Like

  7. 7 Kim January 22, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    Thanks for the blog. We were married in VT this past summer because our state does not recognize same sex marriages. It was sad to not be married in our home church but what a wonderful experience to be accepted by a whole state!

    Love the pictures too. DC has always been one of my favorite places.

    Like

  8. 8 Angella January 22, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    My father said it well one day as he and I were talking about same sex marriages which he used to object to on religious grounds…he said he asked himself the question whether a same sex couple getting married affected his marriage in anyway and the answer he came up with was “NO”. Some in society act as though same sex marriage will rub off on them or diminish their heterosexual marriages in some way. I got goose bumps too listening to the president speak because I do think it is only a matter of time before there is a permanent “American” shift for the better in our way of thinking. After all ….. We hold these truths to be [….all] created equal and endowed with[ . . .rights] Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

    Like

  9. 9 Kathi Isserman January 23, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    I enjoyed taking the photos of DC. Ki and I go into DC often. America’s symbols are inspiring, and they are beginning to mean much more as we as a society are becoming more inclusive.

    Like

  10. 10 KI Thompson January 23, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Thanks for all the comments everyone! We truly live in exciting times.

    Like


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