An Inaugural Address to RememberJanuary 23, 2013
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.
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.
— President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013
The chills I felt while hearing these words during President Obama’s inaugural address had nothing to do with the Washington, D.C., weather and everything to do with hope and pride in being an American. I went to the Mall with my parents and my 7-year-old daughter, and we waited for hours in the cold to see the president. But it was completely worth it.
It was worth it to hear the president unite the civil rights struggles of the last century into one sweeping idea — that we are fighting for the rights of every person to be treated and valued equally. It was worth it to hear him say that being born a woman or African American or gay makes you no less equal in the eyes of others and no less deserving of the full protection of our laws. It was worth it to hear him say that women should receive equal pay for equal work, something I’ve dedicated my own life to fighting for. It was worth it to hear the word “gay” said aloud for the first time in an inaugural address — a small word but a big step forward. It was worth the cold and the wait and the crowds to hear these words.
I attended the inauguration with my parents, who lived through the Jim Crow era and remember the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment, and my daughter, who doesn’t remember life before the United States had an African American president. To see the impact of history on my own family — is it any wonder I got the chills?