Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Bob Schieffer must be straight

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
January 22, 2013 -- Updated 2044 GMT (0444 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: Bob Schieffer found "no real memorable lines" in Obama speech
  • Granderson says the perspective of a gay person is far different
  • Obama broke ground with strong support for equal rights, Granderson says
  • Those who have felt pain of discrimination won't forget Obama's words, he says

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.

Washington (CNN) -- Well, that settles it: CBS' Bob Schieffer must be straight.

Not that I spent time thinking about his sexual orientation before but that's the first thing that popped in my mind when the legendary newsman, in critiquing President Barack Obama's inauguration speech, said, "There were no real memorable lines."

Maybe not for straight people, but there were not a whole lot of gay people who will forget this:

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

"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."

That was the first time the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community was mentioned in inaugural address.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



I'd say that passage was pretty memorable.

And while we've all heard this president mention the rights of gays in speeches before -- what was unique about the inauguration, what really moved me and a lot of people engaged in this particular struggle, was this:

"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."

Seneca Falls refers to the first women's rights convention held in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. His mention of Selma was a nod to the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.

Michelle Obama eye roll at Boehner?
King responds to inaugural address

And Stonewall?

After years of being harassed by police, even arrested for dressing differently or simply walking down the street, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn finally had enough. So after another humiliating raid at a Greenwich Village bar by the name of Stonewall Inn, they fought back. That was June 28, 1969. That moment is credited with being the single most important event in the gay rights movement.

The community came together.

Groups were formed.

Significant cultural change had begun.

In mentioning Stonewall, with not only the nation, but the world watching, Obama gave more than a passing acknowledgment to a group of people who were instrumental to his re-election.

He stopped, looked us in the eyes, and said: I see you.

He stopped, looked us in the eyes, and said: I see you.
LZ Granderson

Maybe if you've never had to worry about not being promoted "if someone found out"; maybe if you've never had to switch pronouns or leave your better half at home for fear of being fired; maybe if you've never had to worry about health insurance for your children or pay extra taxes because your state doesn't recognize your family; maybe if you've never sat in a church and had a preacher tell you that your family isn't a family at all, that your loving relationship is wrong, that who you are is inherently wrong, then I could see how someone could view the president's speech as lacking in memorable lines.

But the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses recently offered the wife of an Army lieutenant colonel an invitation to join the group as a "special guest" -- not as a spouse -- for one reason: sexual orientation. So despite being legally married, despite a 15-year relationship, despite the overturning of "don't ask, don't tell," the blatant discrimination and bullying of LGBT people continues.

So the mentioning of Stonewall did not pass by everyone's ears unnoticed. In fact as I made my way from the frozen lawn in front of the U.S. Capitol, past the parade route and eventually to one of the evening's balls, it was clear to me that the passage in Obama's speech was more than a memorable line.

It was a rallying cry.

That's not to say the work is done but rather Bayard Rustin, and Harvey Milk and Del Martin and the countless souls who have since moved on, did not fight for this notion of full equality, in vain.

It took 44 presidents, 57 inaugurations and 224 years before the LGBT community was mentioned in an inauguration speech -- but the community was finally mentioned.

That seems pretty memorable to me.

At the beginning of the ceremony, Sen. Chuck Schumer drew our attention to the construction of the Capitol, particularly the Statue of Freedom that stands at the top of the dome. He pointed out it was a freed slave, Phillip Reed, who helped to cast the bronze statue, which was placed there December 2, 1863, not even a year after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

To hear that story on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as the nation's first black president was being sworn in for a second time, was a reminder to all of us that at times equality can feel like a slow train coming ... but we cannot grow weary because it is coming.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
As a woman whose parents had cancer, I have quite a few things to say about dying with dignity.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
David Gergen says he'll have a special eye on a few particular races in Tuesday's midterms that may tell us about our long-term future.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
What's behind the uptick in clown sightings? And why the fascination with them? It could be about the economy.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1301 GMT (2101 HKT)
Midterm elections don't usually have the same excitement as presidential elections. That should change, writes Sally Kohn.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1832 GMT (0232 HKT)
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2103 GMT (0503 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2125 GMT (0525 HKT)
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2055 GMT (0455 HKT)
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
October 26, 2014 -- Updated 1904 GMT (0304 HKT)
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1302 GMT (2102 HKT)
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 0032 GMT (0832 HKT)
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
ADVERTISEMENT