Star Trek actor and gay rights activist George Takei joined MSNBC’s The Last Word to discuss what he declared the “best moment” of President Obama’s inaugural speech. Not only did the president include gay rights as an integral American civil right, President Obama also signified broader support by becoming the first president to address gay rights in an inaugural address.
“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; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
President Obama received applause 25 times during his inaugural address, two of those times occurred during this line from his speech: “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.”
Activist George Takei, who watched the inauguration from home with his husband, said it was a moving and a very personal experience for them both.
“Those words had never been uttered by a President of the United States in an inaugural speech and after he said that, they cut to a shot of the mass of people gathered there on the mall from the Capitol to the Washington Monument. And it looked like it was shimmering, all waving the flag. This was my America today. But the president said, ‘Our journey is not finished until…’
And I thought of just four years ago when President Obama was first elected. It was a bittersweet election for us. For the first time we had an African-American president. But in that same election in California, Proposition 8 was passed. It was a very, very bitter defeat there. Marriage equality was wiped out from California but this May that’s going up to the United States Supreme Court together with the challenge to DOMA–the Defense of Marriage Act. We have come an incredible long distance in just four years. We are so near to getting marriage equality and that’s what this inaugural speech stated.”
Issued on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President Obama’s theme of civil rights also encompassed the LGBT community for the first time. Takei shared his story of meeting the civil rights activist.
“I was involved with the civil rights movement when I was in my teens and 20s. I met Dr. Martin Luther King. I was doing a play called ‘Fly, Blackbird’ about the civil rights movement. I was a young student activist in that musical. And we sang at one of the civil rights rallies where Dr. King spoke and after that rally, we had a private meeting with Dr. King. And I will never forget that moment when I shook his hand. We are working on this all together whether it’s civil rights for African-Americans, or equality for women, or equality for the LGBT community.”