On Monday during his Inauguration speech, President Barack Obama did what no President had before him and that was to link the ongoing struggle of the LGBT community to that of Women’s Suffrage and the Civil Rights Movement for African Americans. This comment simply reflects the great strides that have been made by the LGBT, especially in the last four years. From achieving hospital visitation rights, the repeal of DADT, and more. The shackles of being treated as second class citizens has been loosened more so than at anytime before and hopefully the cuffs will be fully removed this year when the ban on gay marriage is struck down by the Supreme Court.
For too long gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender citizens of this country have been forced to hide who they are in all arenas of life. From their employer, their friends, and even their families. Our country has been dragged kicking and screaming (as we unfortunately usually are) when it comes to recognizing that the problem doesn’t lie with the persecuted group (in this case the LGBT community) but rather the problem lies with the rest of us.
Children have been persecuted by their classmates just because they have two mothers or two fathers. They are bullied because they may happen to be attracted to boys instead of girls. Athletes are forced to go to far lengths to prove their heterosexuality to their teammates and fans just so they aren’t kicked off of their team or lose their endorsements. Just until last year, this country’s hero’s who voluntarily enlist in our military and lay their lives down for the rest of us were forced to hide that they were gay.
When the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was being debated in Congress, if you’d have been listening to folks like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Laura Ingraham, you’d have thought that such a repeal would mean that the very foundation of our society was being threatened. Oliver North even argued that by repealing DADT, we would be inviting NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association) into the military. Once the beacon of Republican modernism and sanity, John McCain said this regarding the DADT repeal, “I hope that when we pass this legislation that we will understand that we are doing great damage.Today is a very sad day.” The amount of fear-mongering and vitriol that went around was simply horrifyingly depressing. In the end, no freedoms were stolen, rather equality was provided.
The LGBT community has pushed so hard and has traveled so far in spite of the rest of society trying to stand in its way. By not only mentioning the LGBT in his speech on Monday but linking them to the Women’s Suffrage and Civil Right’s movements – communities who didn’t wait for the society to supply them with equality but went out and claimed it – the President proclaimed what the rest of us need to recognize. The LGBT community is here to stay and it’s our job as their brothers and sisters to recognize them as such.