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US President Obama mentions gay rights in speech honoring march on Selma

US President Obama mentions gay rights in speech honoring march on Selma

Ever since he became a national political figure in 2004, President Barack Obama’s speeches have included references to LGBTI history.

That tradition continued today, 7 March, in a ceremony celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

Called Bloody Sunday, on 7 March, 1965 approximately 600 civil rights marchers were violently attacked by state troopers.

‘The Americans who crossed this bridge, they were not physically imposing,’ the president said in his speech.

‘But they gave courage to millions.  They held no elected office.  But they led a nation.  They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, countless daily indignities –- but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before.’

Obama warned against cynicism by not recognizing the country is different place than it was 30 years ago.

‘Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was thirty years ago,’ Obama said. ‘To deny this progress, this hard-won progress -– our progress –- would be to rob us of our own agency, our own capacity, our responsibility to do what we can to make America better.’

There was also an indirect reference to the Stonewall Riots, making the event no different from the Selma march.

‘We’re the gay Americans whose blood ran in the streets of San Francisco and New York, just as blood ran down this bridge.’

Below is a video of the president’s speech.