Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Bob Schieffer must be straight

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 3:44 PM EST, Tue January 22, 2013
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
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Robert Hickey says most new housing development is high-end, catering to high-earners.
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
updated 3:58 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
updated 8:56 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
updated 1:08 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
updated 2:17 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
updated 1:52 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
updated 2:25 PM EDT, Mon April 21, 2014
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT