South Florida's LGBT community reacts to inaugural address

Opponents of same-sex marriage, gay rights criticize speech

Published On: Jan 30 2013 04:30:47 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 22 2013 10:36:32 AM EST
WILTON MANORS, Fla. -

On the West steps of the United States Capitol, President Barack Obama uttered a word never said before in an inaugural address: gay.

"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," Obama said in his address after his swearing in.

President Obama's mention of Stonewall, the riots in 1969 that prompted the gay rights movement, and his invitation of an openly-gay poet from South Florida to recite where a line of other historic wordsmiths did before, was as personal as it was historic for many.

“It was affirming. It was encouraging. It was exciting,” said Kristofer Fegenbush, chief operating officer of the Pride Center in Wilton Manors.

Wilton Manors is home to the second-largest number of gay couples in the country, according to the latest U.S. Census tabulation.

“When Obama was sort of linking together Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall -- and knitting together the story of civil rights in this century -- and embracing women and people of color, and gay folk, together in the story of civil rights, I looked over to my partner, who’s sort of a tough guy, and I saw a tear trickling down his face. It was one of those moments where you knew -- oh my gosh -- we got included in the narrative of the country,” Fegenbush said.

Michael Emanuel Rajner, Legislative director of the Florida GLBT Democratic Caucus, said he “had goosebumps.”

“For years, the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have been invisible to our federal government. President Obama today affirmed the lives of LGBT people and took a courageous stand against institutionalized homophobia and called on the American people to join us in our struggle for marriage equality,” said Rajner.

Opponents of same-sex marriage and gay rights were not as pleased with the president's address.

In an interview with ABC News, Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the conservative Family Research Council, said he agrees with the president "that all people are created equal by God and all people should be treated equally under the law... But the president is implying that some people are created or born gay and I do not believe the evidence supports it."

Local 10 viewers also weighed in on Facebook.

Richard Fernandez wrote, “…there are a lot more important things out there to worry about.”

Sergio Michel typed, "#inappropriate. Gays are not a people group. It's not a civil rights issue.”

Justin Michael commented that "it's a very sad day in America."

James Carlin, however, weighed in from a different perspective: "I don't see how we can keep denying homosexuals equal protection under the law. Marriage is a LEGAL PROCESS. The church service is OPTIONAL. Yet we say "you can't have this legal document, because you are gay". Is this not a violation of the 14th amendment?"