The president declared it. A pastor prayed it. And woe betide those who differ with this new reality announced at yesterday’s presidential inauguration: Gay is now an official social category as defined and tangible as black or white. Put another way, romantic attraction and sexual desire are now viewed as being as innate and immutable as skin color.
Make no mistake about it. Another significant step was taken yesterday at the inauguration, and what was once associated with the extremist views of radical gay activists is now as American as apple pie. As expressed in the closing prayer of Episcopal pastor Luis León, “We pray for your blessing, because without it we will see only what the eye can see. But with your blessing, we’ll see that we are made in your image, whether brown, black or white; male or female; first generation immigrant or Daughter of the American Revolution; gay or straight; rich or poor.”
Earlier in the festivities, and framing his speech in historic, Constitutional terms, President Obama said, “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 . . . .”
Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall? By Seneca Falls, Obama was referring to a watershed moment in the women’s rights movement that took place in the mid-1800’s in Seneca Falls, New York. By Selma, he was referring to the pivotal Civil Rights marches and protests that took place in Selma, Alabama in the mid-1960’s. And by Stonewall he was referring to the Stonewall Riots that took place in New York City in 1969 when drag queens and their gay friends fought back against the police who raided their bar.
So, the president spoke of Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall in the same breath, and in front of the whole nation at his inauguration, thereby equating women’s rights, black civil rights, and gay rights – which include bisexual, transgender, and other categories as well – also putting the women of Seneca Falls, the blacks of Selma, and the drag queens of Stonewall in the same category.
Do we realize just how significant this is? Do we grasp the implications?
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.