President Barack Obama adressed the nation today with a speech that commemorated the 50-year anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech and the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
His words centered around problems that plague minorities, building on an iconic line in King's historic speech: ”If one of us is not free, then none of us are truly free.” Extending the image of "marching" into a metaphor for the struggles of disenfrancised minorities, Obama cited advancements in equality and freedom for groups over the last 50 years "because they marched," as Mediaite pointed out.
Emphasizing that freedom takes courage, the president then stated that “courage comes when an interracial couple connects to a gay couple who has been discriminated against, and understands it as their own.”
From a historical perspective, Obama placed more value into the rights of LGBT individuals than any of his predecessors. He publicly came out in support of same-sex marriage in May of 2012, making him the first and only U.S. President to take such a stance. Prior to this solidification of his platform on LGBT issues, he was still passing legislation that benefited same-sex couples, such as extending benefits to the same-sex partners of federal workers or signing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Though Obama has spoken out about LGBT rights frequently, not everyone is satisfied with the results coming from his efforts to enact this social and political advancement. Some critics view him as all rhetoric, and think that the president has stalled on actually addressing key LGBT issues beyond name dropping them in his speeches.
Over the past year, he has publicly defended same-sex marriage through a variety of mediums, and made the LGBT movement a foundational plank within his platform. Most recently, he appeared on "The Tonight Show" and articulated that he has no patience for countries such as Russia discriminating against or institutionally disenfranchising individuals based on their sexual orientation.