On January 21, 2013 in Washington D.C., President Hussein Barack Obama was sworn into office for his second term. In his inauguration speech, Obama addressed some of the present days’ most popular and sensitive concerns, including the concerns of gay marriage. Obama pronounced, “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). President Obama is affirming the proposition to legalize gay marriage, bearing the burden of proof. Obama unites the country in his speech, creating a community of American people rather than segregating people into their opposing arguments. The issue of marriage receives a lot of attention in debates and discussions in both the private and the public spheres. In this statement, Obama is representing Americans.
Speaking for one’s own beliefs and rights certainly possesses many boundaries and complexities. Speaking for others’ is claimed to be even more complex. Many problems can occur when attempting to represent a group other than one’s own. One example of a negative outcome that can occur is the possibility of “…increasing or reinforcing the oppression of the group spoken for” (Alcoff, 7). Linda Alcoff discusses the complexity of speaking for others, negative outcomes this can have, and the caution one must take when doing so. President Barack Hussein Obama seems to be aware of this problem, so he cleverly attempts to avoid this complex. Instead of speaking for people that are gay, Obama focuses on the people of America. Obama uses terms like “we” and “our” instead of “they” and “theirs”. By doing so, Obama avoids bracketing (Fraser). He is not stepping out of his identity to relate to others, but emphasizing his American identity he shares with all citizens. President Obama’s focus in this statement is of the equality he shares with every American. Obama’s statement can therefore be recognized to be representing all Americans.
President Barack Obama states, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law”. President Obama addresses all three of McKerrow’s communities but wants to create and improve one; the secondary community of law (Kerrow, 30). Van Eemeren defines a community as “…a collection of people (who) share a set of rules for verbal or non-verbal behavior which are authorized and guided by the uniting rational for their common aspirations,” (van Eemeren, 3). In Obama’s above statement, he unites the country by guiding them to share his one aspiration; to live in a country where legal equality can be shared regardless of one’s sexual orientation. Obama avoids acknowledging the opposing argument, which would create an opposing community. He instead unites all people as citizens of the United States of America by recognizing their rightfully shared equality. Obama wants to reach all private citizens as an audience, addressing them throughout his inauguration as “we the people” (Obama). By uniting and addressing every citizen in his speech, Obama encourages discussion among Americans and, ultimately, legal action in Congress.
To American citizens, a president’s inaugural speech is one of the most popular and public speeches because of its accessibility through cable television and internet. This speech also receives a lot of attention from educational institutions, work places, and community centers. It is reported than on Monday, January 21st 2013, 20.6 million Americans watched President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony and related events on 18 different channels (Serjeant). This enacted millions of viewers to discuss issues addressed in his speech, including gay marriage. The idea of a public sphere, according to Fraser’s interpretation of Haberman, “designates a theater in modern societies in which