NORFOLK -- "When someone of that high authority, you know, comes out speaking on behalf of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community, it makes it more visible. It makes it more relevant," said James Hermansen-Parker, referring to President Obama's reference to gay rights while the President delivered his Inauguration speech Monday.
While talking about the country's "endless possibilities," Mr. Obama said, "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. "
President Obama became the first president to refer to gay rights during an inauguration speech.
"It's pretty incredible, and even though that doesn't change the law, per se, it certainly sets the mood for the country," offered Shannon Bowman who works with the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads and Equality Virginia.
"I think what it does is it actually motivates other people to do more," Bowman told 13News. "He's not really gonna have a direct effect on LGBT rights, but he certainly can motivate others into action. You know, things don't just happen. You actually have to take part in change."
Hermansen-Parker believes the President will build on progress made during his first term as Commander-in-Chief, pointing to things such as the passing of the Matthew Shepard Act which deals with preventing hate crimes and the repeal of the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) Policy.
"I was in the Navy for 5 years, and I got out because of Don't Ask, Don't Tell," explained Hermansen-Parker. "The history of it changing in this community has made things so much more open. So many more people are able to be themselves."