Last weekend I had the privilege of attending a commencement ceremony at a small Christian College in the midwest. Like most commencement exercises, it was a very nice ceremony that honored many well-deserving graduates. Graduation ceremonies are always very emotional as students end a chapter in their lives and begin another. The transition can be overwhelmingly frightening or a time of extraordinary relief and a keynote speaker usually brings the graduates and the audience together by framing the ceremony with a summary of the college experience and a look toward the future. The speech that I heard was wonderful but hardly controversial.
Recently, graduating seniors at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were addressed by New York City’s Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. In his remarks to about 5,700 graduating students at the university’s main campus, Bloomberg included a spirited defense of the right of gays and lesbians to marry, just days after North Carolina passed an amendment that banned the practice.
“Each and every generation has removed some barrier to full participation in the American dream. That work is not over. Far from it...And, I would argue, last week's referendum banning same-sex marriage shows just how much more work needs to be done to ensure freedom and equality for all people....I have no doubt, that in your lifetime, liberty’s light will allow us to see more clearly the truth of our nation’s founding principles, and allow us to see all people and all couples as full and equal members of the American family.” – New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in his commencement speech at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 05/13/12.
His comments found a receptive audience on the campus, which had held many rallies against the amendment in the months leading up to the vote and is found in one of only a handful of counties where the amendment was rejected. When he spoke in support of marriage equality, he was greeted with the loudest applause of the morning, from students and administrators, including the school’s chancellor.
I imagine this commencement speech motivated the graduates quite a bit. Bloomberg has always been a very authentic speaker and he continues to understand his audience and move them with his words ...
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