Five ways the 57th Inauguration embraced and celebrated gay and lesbian Americans
Jan 22, 2013 at 12:35 pm
Yesterday was the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of thousands of people from across the country gathered to celebrate the beginning of President Barack Obama's second presidential term. The day was historic and momentous for gay and lesbian Americans, who were celebrated and heralded like never before at a Presidential Inauguration. Here are five landmark ways that the LGBT community was embraced at this weekend's inauguration.
1. President Obama calls for the freedom to marry in inaugural address
After taking the oath of office for his second term as the President of the United States, Barack Obama delivered a rousing speech where he outlined key goals and set the stage for what we can accomplish together as a country in the next four years. In his speech, he reaffirmed his commitment to the freedom to marry and became the first president ever to make direct reference to gay and lesbian Americans in an inaugural address. He said, "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."
2. Richard Blanco becomes the first openly gay inaugural poet
Richard Blanco's role as the Inaugural Poet was historic in more than one way: He is the first openly gay person, the first Latino, and the youngest person ever to read a poem at a presidential inauguration. His speech, "One Together," calls for inclusiveness and togetherness in the United States, including a line, "We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always - home, always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop and every window, of one country - all of us - facing the stars hope - a new constellation waiting for us to map it, waiting for us to name it - together." Blanco is openly gay and lives with his longtime partner Mark Neveu in Bethel, Maine. (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais, the Associated Press)
3. Luis León references gay Americans in inaugural blessing
Luis León, the minister of the St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, delivered the closing prayer at the swearing-in ceremony. In the benediction, he directly referenced gay Americans. He said, in part, "With your blessing, we will see that we are created in your image - whether brown, black or white, male or female, first-generation immigrant American or daughter of the American revolution; gay or straight; rich or poor - we pray for your blessing, because without it, we will only see scarcity in the midst of abundance. But with your blessing, we will recognize the abundance of the gifts of this good land with which you have endowed this nation."
4. Lesbian and Gay Band Association performs in inaugural parade
The Lesbian and Gay Band Association is an organization of 32 local bands from across the United States that work to promote LGBT music, visibility, and pride by providing an international network of lesbian and gay bands in all stages of development. 215 members from bands across the country joined together to perform in a historic appearance in the Inauguration Day Parade. (Photo by Mark Wilson, Getty Images)
5. Service members bring same-sex partners to Commander-in-Chief's Ball
It was also the first Inauguration since the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the policy that prohibited open service for gay and lesbian Americans in the U.S. military. That meant that this year, soldiers and other service members were finally welcome to bring their same-sex partners to the Commander-in-Chief's Ball, which took place last night in Washington, D.C. Many LGBT couples attended - including Army Brigadier General Tammy Smith, the highest-ranking openly gay service member in the country, and her wife Tracey Hepner; Air Force Lt. Josh Seefried; and Navy Petty Officers Jen Johnston and April Baker, (all pictured). Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sue Fulton, who became the first same-sex couple to marry at Cadet Chapel at West Point earlier this year, and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson and her wife Danyelle were also among the many other LGBT couples who attended. (Photo by OutServe-SLDN)