President Barack Obama has just finished his speech following his second inaugural (interesting, he had to take the oath Sunday in order to meet the Constitutional requirement) and folks I know are gushing about that fact that for the first time in American inaugural history a President has made mention of the gay community:
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. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.
There’s a lot to chew on in this speech. It is a speech about re-imaging the American promise for this generation. It is powerful, it is thoughtful. I would even go as far as declare it is Obama’s Kennedy moment of declaring the passing of the torch to a new generation.
And while the President made reference to safety — technically in relation to gun violence — I would hope that we can find it in our hearts to make the promise of this generation not just to end AIDS — a fashionable frame pushed at the International AIDS Conference in 2012, which focuses on the end stage of HIV infection while ignoring the new infections — but that we can end HIV infection, period.