President Barack Obama made history on Monday by becoming the first US president to include gay people’s right to equality in a presidential inauguration speech.
This was Obama’s second inauguration following his November victory in the polls.
In his address in front of the US Capitol in Washington DC, the president said that marriage should be legal for all.
“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,” he said.
In his speech, Obama also referenced the 1969 Stonewall riots, when the LGBT rights movement was born, linking the event with other civil rights struggles.
“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.”
The unprecedented pro-gay inauguration also included a reading of a poem by openly-gay poet Richard Blanco. He is the first gay and first Latino poet to be chosen as the Inaugural Poet, joining the likes of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou in the honour.
The ceremony concluded with a benediction by Episcopalian priest Rev. Luis Leon of St. John’s Church, who also included gay people in his prayer.
“We pray for your blessing because without it, we will see only what the eye can see. But with the blessing of your blessing we will see that we are created in your image, whether brown, black or white, male or female, first generation or immigrant American, or daughter of the American Revolution, gay or straight, rich or poor,” he said.
Leon replaced Pastor Louie Giglio, who had originally been set to deliver the prayer, after it came to light that Giglio had given an anti-gay sermon in the 90s stating that homosexuality is a sin.
Watch videos of Obama’s speech, Blanco’s poem and the prayer by the Rev. Luis Leon below.