President Obama on Monday became the first president to use the word “gay” as a reference to sexual orientation in an inaugural address, declaring the movement for equality to be part of the pantheon of America’s great civil rights struggles. “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” the president said. “For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.” Obama also made another reference in the speech to gay equality. He placed the 1969 riot protesting a police raid on a Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, as a signature event in the civil rights movement — and ranked it with historical turning points in the battles for women’s and racial equality. “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,” Obama said. Seneca Falls referred to an 1848 convention of female activists in an Upstate New York hamlet that produced one of the first declarations of the then-radical proposition that women should be equal to men.
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