NGLTF Reaction To Inaugural Address

January 21, 1997

In his inaugural address, President Clinton challenged the American people to end the plague of prejudice in America: a theme of great significance to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. While the President focused on racism and sexism, the message resonated profoundly for many in the lgbt community.

Below is a statement from NGLTF executive director Kerry Lobel on the President's address and the challenge facing the lgbt community. Lobel emphasized the action that must accompany the hopes and vigilance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people over the next four years. Lobel charged the community with making history instead of witnessing it. In her statement, Lobel characterizes the mood of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as hopeful and its mission as formidable as it gears up for the next four years.

History is not the President's to make alone. History is written by all Americans each day, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Whether through apathy or activism, the lgbt community has a vital role in the countdown to the new century. It is up to each of us, individually and collectively, to decide whether we will merely read the history that will be written or whether we, lgbt people, will mold the events that are the raw material of history.

It is a great day when a President, in his inaugural address, condemns "the divide of race [that] has been America's constant curse." It is a great day, when a newly reelected President, proclaims,"prejudice and contempt cloaked in the pretense of religious or political convictions are no different." We look toward the day when the President confronts homophobia as part of the prejudices that plague our nation.

For the next four years the job of the lgbt community is not just to hope for equality, but to act decisively for it. The use of sodomy laws to criminalize our love and our lives, the obstacles to our right to parent and create families as we choose, the actions of bigots to keep us from working because we are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender will not end because Bill Clinton made it so. They will end because we made it so. The next four years are our opportunity to change the landscape of the country.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.