Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More Inaugural Comments. . . .


Imagining Hope

President Obama delivering his inaugural address.
President Obama delivering his inaugural address.
Inauguration times are truly times of hope and joy.   Yesterday, I was down on the National Mall in Washington, DC, to see President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden take the oaths of office once again.
The hope and joy in the crowd was palpable.  Bursts of applause broke out after every few sentences during the President’s inaugural address.   Perhaps no applause was greater (especially from me) especially when Obama uttered the following words:
“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.”
I have been working in the field of Catholic LGBT ministry for over 20 years, and it dawned on me yesterday, that 20 years ago, even in my wildest dreams, I would never have guessed or even hoped  that I would hear a reference to Stonewall in a presidential inaugural address.  But, there it was: the first time ever that LGBT people or issues were mentioned in such a speech.
But it got better.
A short time after the Stonewall reference, Obama added the following words:
“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began … 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.”
Not only a second reference to LGBT equality, but a specific, supportive message of marriage equality!  I could hardly believe my ears.
As I reflected last night on the day’s events,  I thought of how much hope such milestones provide.   What is most important for me is that such moments help to fill our imaginations with hope.  As Catholics who work for LGBT justice and equality, it may seem far-fetched to imagine a bishop or the pope saying such things as Obama did yesterday.  But 20 years ago, it was equally unimaginable that we would hear what we heard yesterday.  And 40 years ago, one would have probably been thought insane to imagine such a prospect.
So, let’s pray in gratitude today for the hope that Obama’s message gives us as Catholic advocates for LGBT people.  Let’s give our hope a chance to be renewed and provide our imaginations a chance to be expanded to include impossible dreams.  And let’s pray for the courage to work to make those impossible dreams come true.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

4 comments:

RADICALJOE said...

What Obama said yesterday was more than Beautiful. Not ony Women, and Blacks, but Gays giving them the push in the Military, as well as same sex marriage. "Public opinion has evolved on gay rights in the last four years, said Patrick Egan, a professor of political science at New York University. "You don't see that kind of change in public opinion happen very often."A USA Today/Gallup poll published in December found that approval of same-sex marriage had risen to 53 percent in 2012 from less than 40 percent in 2005." So we All had a
Great Day Yesterday. Bet you were
a very Happy man at the Mall yesterday, I wish I wss there to
hear his speech in person. Bless you and be safe.

Gary Kelly said...

Hope and Joy, yes. But I heard one rather ungenerous comment from a commentator on telly last night who said the inaugural speech was cleverly crafted for historians so that, in decades to come, when Obama is accused of doing nothing about gay reform, he can say "Have you read the inaugural speech? It's all in there. I tried, but Congress wouldn't let me."

Let's hope Obama's actions are as positive as his words.

J said...

Certainly the President's remarks about gay rights were the highlight of his address. Now if he will only confront the frightening condition of our national debt...

Coop said...

President Obama's feelings on equality are spot on.
I hate to say it, but New Ways has a looooong way to go with the Catholic church (the institution, not individual people).

As for the rest of Obama's new agenda... Let me be clear: both parties would rather accuse the other side of being obstructive. Nobody actually wants to cooperate.