Obama inauguration: Gay rights, climate change take center stage


Barack Obama walks along Pennsylvania Avenue after his second inauguration as president of the United States.

President Barack Obama dropped two bombshells into his inauguration speech on Monday: gay rights and climate change.

Whether these liberal issues become a key focus of Obama’s second term, only time will tell.

But the very mention of them in his 18-minute inauguration speech is significant.

As the Los Angeles Times pointed out, it was the first time ever that a US president mentioned gay rights in an inaugural address. 

Obama told the crowd of hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington's National Mall that America’s “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,” the National Post reported.

On the issue of climate change – a topic he largely avoided during his first term – Obama said there was a need to “respond to the threat of climate change.”

“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms,” he said.

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.

“That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.”

Vanity Fair noted that the mention of both issues was surprising, but climate change more so.

“In the spectrum of speech surprises, the mention of gay rights fell somewhere between 'totally great and unforeseen' and 'a nice unexpected treat.' (After all, Obama did endorse gay marriage back in May.) However, in that same spectrum of speech surprises, the president’s mention of climate change ranks on the far end of 'Oh my God, what?' Yes, climate change, a terrifying, large-scale problem known colloquially around the Obama White House as: 'Oh right, that.'"

More from GlobalPost: Inauguration: President Barack Obama sworn in for second term (LIVE VIDEO)

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