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Queer Talk: Seneca, Selma and Stonewall

Widely quoted on LGBT blogs, and at least for me, by a lot of Facebook friends, is this line from President Obama’s Inauguration Day / Martin Luther King Day speech (via AmericaBlogGay:

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 … .

Women, African Americans and LGBTs — certainly an encouraging inclusion. Most certainly the inclusion occurs largely because of the work of those “forebears,” those who followed, and those who keep on working. Focusing on LGBTs, Barack Obama is the first president who had the benefit of consistent, significant and highly publicized steps into equality as a context, with rather loud and insistent LGBT and allies advocates pushing for more. He deserves credit for his “evolution,” as do the millions of other members of “we, the people.”

Here’s an excerpt from a Lesbian and Gay Task Force statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director:

‘President Obama is the most pro-LGBT president in American history. His first term was filled with monumental gains for LGBT people and our families, including the passage of a federal hate crimes law, repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and his declaration of support for the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. These next four years hold great promise for continuing progress in ensuring that LGBT people are fully recognized and valued as part of this country’s strength, spirit and solution. …

‘We couldn’t agree more. It’s now time for the president – and for all of us – to finish the job of ensuring that every American gets a fair shake.’

The statement concludes with this:

Some key Task Force priorities during Obama’s second term
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is calling on the Obama administration and Congress to:

Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (federal LGBT employment protections).

Repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

Ensure that transgender people can serve openly in the military.

Protect funding levels for the Ryan White CARE Act.

Improve federal LGBT data collection efforts to help eliminate disparities facing LGBT people.

Ensure that government contractors, grantees and others who receive federal funding don’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment decisions.

Work with federal agencies to update their policies to be inclusive of transgender people.

Ensure that federal funds are not used to discriminate against LGBT people and their families.

Speeches can be helpful. Changes are made by actions, which usually occur when leaders follow “we the people.”

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4 Responses to Queer Talk: Seneca, Selma and Stonewall

  1. secularhumanizinevoluter January 21, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Well….once again I have a feeling of hope after seeing the veritable SEA of Americans of every color and social strata cheering the inauguration of President Obama. I am adult enough to know he will not be able to preform miracles especially with the repugnantklan/teabagger/UBERChristofascist mob of domestic terrorists still holding the people’s House hostage….but I have hope that at the very least come 2014 there will be enough of a change by the electorate that some real and concrete changes can be made and progress towards equal rights for ALL Americans can come closer to a reality.

    • Joyce Arnold January 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      2014 is going to be very interesting, especially with 2016 well on its way …

  2. Jane Austen January 22, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    Joyce – I couldn’t believe I had to explain what happened at Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall to some people in my family. My granddaughter was the only one who got it right (of course I had pounded it into her head when she took American history in high school).

    But sec – you are absolutely correct about the social strata of this country. I grew up at a time when the mere thought of an African American ever becoming POTUS was unthinkable. To think that he was elected and re-elected is absolutely amazing. I found myself in awe by the very fact that we have actually arrived at this point in my lifetime. Now I have one more wish and that is to see a woman become POTUS before I leave this life.

    • Joyce Arnold January 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

      I have a feeling, Jane, that a good number of people were doing similar “explaining,” probably especially regarding Seneca Falls and Stonewall. At least I’d guess more people would have some idea of “Selma” and “Civil Rights Movement.” Maybe I just hope that’s the case.

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