In Second Inaugural, Obama Appeals to His Progressive Base

To a greater extent than he did in his first inaugural address four years ago, in his speech Monday President Barack Obama made a point of focusing attention on issues vital to specific constituencies within his winning coalition.

Obama's inaugural theme four years ago was the need for national unity and his call for "a new era of responsibility, a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our Nation, and the world." And in his address Monday, Obama again included calls for unity, or what he called "collective action."

But he went beyond that by, for the first time in a presidential inaugural address, referring explicitly to gay rights and to an event in gay rights history, the 1969 riot outside the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village in New York City. The Stonewall Inn protests followed a police raid on the bar and helped launch the gay rights movement.

In a statement issued after Obama's victory last November, the Human Rights Campaign, the leading gay rights advocacy group, said, "HRC and our energized supporters have raised or contributed more than $20 million to re-elect President Obama and to advance marriage equality and other electoral priorities this (2012) cycle."

In his address, Obama called for states to give legal recognition to marriage by same-sex couples: "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.

The major action on this issue will not come from Obama or Congress but from the Supreme Court, which on March 26, 2013 will hear oral arguments in two cases that will decide whether a state can define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Also, the high court will decide whether a section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman, violates the constitutional rights of same-sex couples.

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