The Lesbian and Gay Band Association (LGBA), a musical organization comprising marching and concert bands from across the United States and around the world, has been chosen to perform in the parade for President-elect Barack Obamaâ€™s inauguration on Jan. 20. This is the first time in history that a LGBT group will march in a Presidential Inaugural Parade. The 177-piece LGBA band will join groups from across the country (including our own San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band) as well as from the Armed Forces in the historic parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, which follows President-elect Barack Obamaâ€™s swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the Capitol.
â€śI am honored to invite these talented groups and individuals to participate in the Inaugural Parade,â€ť Obama said in a news release. â€śThese organizations embody the best of our nationâ€™s history, diversity, and commitment to service. Vice President-elect (Joe) Biden and I are proud to have them join us in the parade.â€ť
The LGBA concert band performed in 1993 at the inaugural celebrations for President Bill Clinton, becoming the first LGBT group to perform at an inauguration - and receiving a â€śthumbs-upâ€ť gesture from the President as they played â€śAmerica the Beautiful.â€ť The LGBA band also performed at President Clintonâ€™s second inauguration in 1997.
Two San Francisco groups in the LGBA and a middle school marching band on the Peninsula are the only groups in California with the honor to be called upon to march for the inauguration. Over a dozen members of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band and also members from Cheer San Francisco (a local award-winning queer cheerleading group), were chosen from thousands of LGBA members across the nation to march down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Doug Litwin, a board member of LGBA who plays the clarinet in the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band and who is going to the Obama inauguration, noted this would be a first for the Band - marching openly gay in front of the White House. The Band did play on the side lines for President Clintonâ€™s two inaugural ceremonies. Litwin told Bay Times this would be even better because they will be proudly marching, not standing aside, openly gay and moving with a contingent.
Abraham Lincolnâ€™s Gettysburg address, plainly stating that â€śall men are created equal.â€ť No statement could be more apropos during these times of fighting to regain the constitutional right of same-sex marriage. No doubt there will be a lot of placards stating so in the crowds gathered on Capitol Hill.