Way back at the Democratic National Convention of 2004, I fell in love (politically at least) with Barack Obama. It was like he was speaking directly to me, and with tears in my eyes, I remember thinking “This guy should be running for president.” Thankfully four short years later, I got my wish. As his first campaign heated up, I remember seeing
Way back at the Democratic National Convention of 2004, I fell in love (politically at least) with Barack Obama. It was like he was speaking directly to me, and with tears in my eyes, I remember thinking “This guy should be running for president.” Thankfully four short years later, I got my wish. As his first campaign heated up, I remember seeing his float in the Gay Pride Parade in Philadelphia. As I stood with all my gay friends, we were flabbergasted to see a presidential candidate who cared enough about our community to actually be in our parade. Not only did he have a float, Candidate Obama also had LGBT For Obama signs printed out, and the people marching in the parade were passing them out to the crowd. I still have mine, as I’m sure it will be worth something someday. I also remember commenting to my friends “If Clinton was the first Black President, then Obama will be the first Gay President. He included us, he knew us, and we all knew he believed in our equality, even if he had to take a more conservative stance to win over some voters, we knew he would come around. So it was no surprise to many in the LGBT community when he reversed his position on marriage equality in 2012. He has appointed gays to cabinet level positions, judgeships, and to his staff. He speaks every year at the Human Rights Campaign Dinner, and committed to making our lives better. He followed through on those commitments too: The US Government is no longer defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court, he personally saw to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in our military, ending discrimination of our troops based on who they love, and allowing LGBT men and women to openly serve in the United States Armed Forces. By coming out in favor of marriage equality, he has helped turn the tide in this country on how we see the LGBT community. It was only after his “coming out” that any state’s voters voted in favor of marriage equality. The previous 32 times, states had voted to deny the LGBT community equal rights. I stick by my claim that I made all those years ago in Philadelphia, Barack Obama is our first Gay President.
Naturally, on the evening of November 6 we were sitting at home on pins and needles hoping that our beloved country would do the right thing and re-elect Obama. Until that point, the pundits were telling us it was going to be a close race, and the GOP was guaranteeing a win for their side. Luckily it didn’t go into the wee hours of the morning and we were able to sleep soundly knowing that our country was in good hands and that the candidate who had our (the LGBT community) best interest in mind had won. To quote one of our favorite comedienne’s (Wanda Sykes) “Obama Bitches.” Now, we can’t wait until this coming Monday, when Obama is sworn in as our Commander in Chief for his second term.
For over two hundred years America’s citizens have witnessed the Inaugural ceremonies of the President and Vice President of the United States: from our first President, George Washington, who took the oath in New York City in 1789, to today, as we prepare for the 57th Presidential Inauguration on the National Mall in Washington DC.
The 56th Inauguration of President Barack Obama featured many firsts, they were:
· Largest attendance of any event in the history of Washington, DC
· Largest attendance of any Presidential Inauguration in U.S. history
· First African American to hold the office of President of the United States
· First citizen born in Hawaii to hold the office
· Highest viewership ever of the swearing-in ceremonies on the Internet
· First woman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, to emcee the ceremony
· First inaugural webcast to include captioning
· First swearing-in ceremony to include an audio description
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) plans and executes all Inaugural activities at the United States Capitol, including the Inaugural swearing-in ceremony of the President and Vice President of the United States and the traditional Inaugural luncheon that follows. The committee for the Fifty-Seventh Inaugural Ceremonies includes Chairmen Charles E. Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Lamar Alexander, Speaker of the House John A. Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The Inauguration is more than what we see on Television as it consists of a full day of events starting with the Morning Worship Service held at the National Cathedral, which just last week announced that it would be the venue for a gay wedding, the first in it’s history. The worship service is followed by the Procession to the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremonies. This tradition has endured, with few exceptions, since 1837. Since the first Inauguration of George Washington in 1789, the procession to the Inaugural ceremonies has provided an occasion for much celebration. Just before the President-elect takes the oath of office on Inauguration Day, the Vice President-elect will step forward on the Inaugural platform and repeat the oath of office. This is followed by the Presidential Oath of Office, which is:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
You may remember that during President Obama’s first inauguration, Chief Justice Roberts misread the oath, and the president repeated it incorrectly causing a bit of a stir, and an eventual second swearing in. This year, President Obama will be sworn in twice as well. The US Constitution states requires the Oath be taken on January 20, which falls on Sunday this year, so the celebration and inaugural festivities will take place the next day. Obama will take the oath officially in private on Sunday and again at the public ceremonies on Monday January 21. This will make him only the second US President to be sworn in four times as president. The swearing in is followed by the Inaugural address which started with George Washington’s—on April 30, 1789. Every President since Washington has delivered an Inaugural Address, although most are not really memorable, except for John F. Kennedy’s “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You, But What YOU Can Do For Your Country” speech. The Inaugural Address is usually followed by the departure of the outgoing president, which of course does not happen this time. Next on this busy day is the Inaugural Luncheon at the Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, which was interrupted last time by a very sick, but very proud Ted Kennedy, who had a seizure at the end of the meal and had to be rushed to the hospital.
After the conclusion of the Inaugural Ceremonies and the luncheon, the President and Vice President will make their way down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, leading a procession of ceremonial military regiments, citizens’ groups, marching bands and floats. The President, Vice President, their spouses and special guests will then review the parade as it passes in front of the Presidential Reviewing Stand. The Inaugural parade is a celebrated and much anticipated event for millions of Americans across the country. The parade is organized by the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, and participants are selected by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. This year, a gay marching band from right here in Florida will march in the Inaugural Parade, further solidifying Obama’s commitment to our community.
The Inaugural Balls take place at night all over the capital, and they are an anticipated highlight of Washington society and are planned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Once the Balls are over we hope that President Obama, Vice President Biden and their families have a good night’s sleep as this will have been a very long day for them!