US President Barack Obama delivered a highly inclusive commencement address to students graduating from the all-male Morehouse College this weekend.
From the 22:15 minute mark, President Obama tells the crowd: “Be the best husband you can be to your wife, or your husband, or your partner.”
After pausing to allow some surprised laughter, he goes on to tell the Morehouse graduates, most of whom are black, that they are endowed with empathy for other minority groups, including gay people.
“As Morehouse Men, many of you know what it’s like to be an outsider; know what it’s like to be marginalized; know what it’s like to feel the sting of discrimination,” he said.
“And that’s an experience that a lot of Americans share. Hispanic Americans know that feeling when somebody asks them where they come from or tell them to go back. Gay and lesbian Americans feel it when a stranger passes judgment on their parenting skills or the love that they share. Muslim Americans feel it when they’re stared at with suspicion because of their faith. Any woman who knows the injustice of earning less pay for doing the same work – she knows what it’s like to be on the outside looking in.
“So your experiences give you special insight that today’s leaders need. If you tap into that experience, it should endow you with empathy — the understanding of what it’s like to walk in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, to know what it’s like when you’re not born on 3rd base, thinking you hit a triple. It should give you the ability to connect. It should give you a sense of compassion and what it means to overcome barriers.”
Speaking at his inauguration in January, President Obama made a speech which said “our journey is not complete” until equal rights for gay people is reached, and referred to the importance of the Stonewall riots in terms of moves towards equality.