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There are times in our lives when we remember exactly where we were when something historic took place. And for many LGBT citizens, Jan. 21, 2013 will be one of those days. As President Barack Obama was sworn into office for his second term, his Inaugural Address included these words, “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
Obama continued, “It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. 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.”
These words marked the first time gay people were mentioned in a Presidential Inaugural Address. And now, with this paradigm shift more complete, the President has called on all of us to take action in bold and profound ways so all citizens, young and old, gay and straight, have an opportunity to succeed and live with dignity.
That has been the clarion call of Stonewall since the very first LGBT people there stood up against the brutal attacks of NYC police and demanded their dignity. From that moment – to the moment on the steps of our nation’s capitol – our President helped connect the dots.
Words are powerful and coming from the leader of the free world they are often game changers. Since last May when the President evolved on marriage equality – he has changed the equation for good. Our adversaries are now on the outside looking in and our challenge will be countering them further with education and advocacy across the country. Perhaps – in some instances – some of them will become enlightened in the process.
Here in Michigan we know there is so much yet to be accomplished; from repealing our discriminatory state constitution which currently bans same-sex marriage, to seeking support services for LGBT seniors, to finding enough housing for LGBT homeless youth, to educating our neighbors, co-workers, family and friends about who we are and who we love.
Let Monday’s message of hope and dignity from President Obama inspire all of us to do the next right thing in each of our lives. In this edition of BTL, we report on the one year old Community Center Network’s efforts to better educate and mobilize our citizens across the state. Consider learning more about any or all of the centers and their efforts. Support them with your checkbook, volunteer where you can and learn more about the depth of support services they work to provide every day of the year to LGBT Michiganders.
The inspired slogan, Until Love Is Equal, should help guide us. And it is so powerful to know that we are fully supported and treated with dignity by our President.
Do take a moment this weekend to read the poem “One Today” by the Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco – a gay man – who so eloquently captured how to move forward as a country. We are at a critical crossroads where our efforts are needed to push us over the finish line for LGBT equality.
On Monday the U.S. capital was filled with gay people – a simple, necessary, visible part of the American fabric was vibrantly on display for all to witness.
Let’s build on this incredible and inspired moment and further secure our future here in Michigan. Promise to engage in creating a sweeping time for Michigan’s LGBT community today.