So, too, did I feel pride on election night when we won again. Not just Obama supporters, but supporters of equality won around the country. It was stirring and sometimes felt more impressive given what the alternative was (scary Romney) and how the deck felt stacked against us at the start of the election. I almost didn't watch the inauguration yesterday because I didn't expect it to move me as it had four years ago. I rarely turn on the television until our girls are asleep. But B was napping, A having an adventure with my wife, so I flicked it on. I caught it just in time to hear Barack Obama drop Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall into his speech.
Wait, did a president just name check the riot at Stonewall among other pivotal moments in the struggle for civil rights? Did he just trace the arc of progress from a small town in New York, to Alabama, to a bar in New York City? Just as I was reveling in that moment he reeled off the following:
“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.”The words got me, but so did the crowds roar when he spoke of everyone having an equal right to marry. It was not so very long ago when politicians, the president included, gave half-assed responses about gay rights. Here was the president standing facing the Mall and delivering a stirring speech about the importance of social justice, and including gay people in that list by name. No more hinting, no more coded phrases meant to apease us without pissing off the rest of the country. Here was a crowd filled with people of every shade, every race, every background cheering for my rights.
I hoped to see a moment like this in my lifetime, but I never dreamed it would be now.
I look at A, who is four and B who is not yet two, and I see two girls who will be eight and five before they will know another president. They will be in school before they even have a chance to have an old white dude for a president (as I had for 29 years). For now, they grow with a president who believes our family is as good as his own, as worthy of love, respect, and civil rights. Hopefully, the next time we elect someone she will feel the same way. We're waiting for you Hillary.