Long-term activism pays off

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“To this 40-year activist, the symbolism of President Barack Obama addressing the American people on Inauguration Day in front of the Lincoln Memorial with openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson at his side is overwhelmingly emotional. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream on those steps. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect that the president of the United States would include the LGBT community in that dream, and have no doubt about it, only this president could make that statement so clearly and so succinctly.”

Many years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting King’s widow, Coretta Scott King. As we reported in PGN at the time, I asked her if her husband would have embraced the gay-rights movement. She didn’t hesitate when she replied, “I’ve never been asked that before, but yes.”

Bringing all of these elements together seems to be something that our president-elect does very well. There are still members of our community who believe that we lost Proposition 8 in California due to the African-American vote. By inviting Robinson to stand with him this moment, on this very spot, President Obama is saying that the dream — meaning equal rights — belongs to all and he is asking the black community to embrace LGBT rights.

If you want chills, here’s an e-mail I received:

“Just a side-light.

“I was there, in August, 1963, carrying a gay-rights (Mattachine) sign when Dr. King spoke on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

“It has taken almost a half-century but we (even if, obviously, not I personally) have finally moved up from the masses in front to the performers on the steps.

“Some dreams do come true.” — Frank Kameny

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at [email protected].