Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Obama's Great Rights Address

Put me in the long column of those pleased with President Barack Obama's second inaugural address.

I am torn about whether he should have been so bold in his first one. I do admit that had he campaigned so progressively strongly, he might well have lost that election. We are a socially slow nation.

Several areas in particular yesterday's speech struck many of us lefties. For example:

  1. A long overdue parallelism and paean to Seneca Falls (women's suffrage), Selma (Black civil rights), and Stonewall (gay rights) was the clear moral and intellectual posture we've longed for from him.
  2. A strong statement for marriage equality — "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."

Many other themes he iterated had appeared and gotten action in his first term. He wants to complete equal pay for equal work for women, for instance. He likewise spoke again of curbing gun violence, reversing climate change and many more works in progress.

It seems part of his finally fully supporting LGBT rights, including marriage equality, reflects the nation's zeitgeist. Leading the reversal of the military Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell policy, led his opposition to the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act, which in turn led his clear support for marriage equality. Instead of costing him this election or poisoning the well of public support, those did the opposite. Most of America is with him on these issues.

The unhappy and increasingly scatter band of anti-LGBT sorts still chant. They point to the 31 states that enacted anti-same-sex-marriage laws and/or amendments after New Hampshire went with civil unions and then Massachusetts with marriage. The coup those who would hamper, harm and hinder homosexuals maxed out and is being reversed, in many cases by the most populous states. It's a dwindling party of bigots, doomed to sit increasingly in their rented halls and living rooms muttering.

We can hope for the slim chance that the SCOTUS will fully enable SSM. Otherwise, the Prez can continue to nibble away at the blocks to equality here. Placing such rights clearly on a plane with other huge civil-rights struggles has already set the tone.

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