When US President-elect Barack Obama takes a whistle stop train ride from Philadephia to Washington DC on the Saturday before his inauguration, he will be riding in the company of “everyday Americans who have been invited to make the journey based off their extraordinary stories.”
The Presidential Inauguation Committee (PIC) has now released the details of those everyday Americans.
16 families, among them a lesbian couple.
President-elect Obama will attend an event in Philadelphia, then head to Wilmington, Delaware to collect Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his family.
A Senator since 1973, Biden famously commutes by train an hour and a half each day from his home in Wilmington to the Senate.
Obama and Biden will attend an event in Baltimore before continuing to Washington DC.
“The trip follows in the tradition of past inaugural journeys that included events along the way and pays homage to America’s rich history, beginning in the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed and the Liberty Bell rang out,” according to the PIC website.
Lisa Hazirjian and her partner Michelle, who are from Ohio, have been invited to accompany the Presidential party.
A board member of Equality Ohio and a member of gay group Stonewall Democrats, she is “establishing herself as a leader in our community at the grassroots level,” according to the Washington Blade.
She should have plenty to discuss with the President-elect, who will take office on January 20th.
According to her biography on the Equality Ohio website:
“Lisa’s record of involvement in progressive causes runs the gamut from combating mortgage redlining by analysing Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, to holding HIV prevention workshops in migrant farmworker camps, to leading the campaign to establish same-sex partner benefits for graduate and professional students at her alma mater, to coordinating the Obama campaign’s LGBT outreach activities in the greater Cleveland area.”
The President-elect has been accused of betraying his gay supporters when he invited preacher Rick Warren to lead prayers at his inauguration ceremony.
The evangelical has likened gay couples to incest.
Barney Frank, one of three gay people in Congress, said the decision was “deeply offensive and unfair.”
“If he was inviting Rev Warren to participate in a forum and to make a speech, that would be a good thing.
“But being singled out to give the prayer at the inauguration is a high honour. It has traditionally given as a mark of great respect.
“I think it was wrong to single him out for this mark of respect.”
President-elect Obama has defended his choice.
“We’re not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable, and then focus on those things that we hold in common,” he said.
He cited Mr Warren’s decision to invite him to speak at his chuch in California even though “I have views that were entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues about abortion.”
President-elect Obama has also failed to nominate any lesbian, gay or bisexual people to his Cabinet, which has added to some disquiet among LGBT supporters.
However, he has signed up to a range of gay rights measures, such as strengthening federal hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act.
The President-elect also committed to support civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples, but not same-sex marriage. He also supports an end to the ban on openly gay people serving in the US military.
Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, “and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity.”