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Jack Delaney Rhetorical Analysis 10/10/2013 The Human Rights Campaign hosts a dinner banquet each year with

keynote speakers, entertainers such as music artists and comedians, and politicians that support equal rights for all. The HRC is the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered equality and advocacy group in the country. Barack Obama addressed the HRC on the subject of LGBT equality. The speech was given at the 15th Annual HRC National Dinner, where Obama was invited to speak for the second time. Obama and his speechwriters clearly chose each and every word very carefully; the eyes of the nation are always on the president, especially concerning a controversial topic such as this one. Barack Obamas use of rhetoric supports his argumentthe LGBT movement is heading in the right direction but still has a long way to goto a like-minded audience by developing strong appeals to ethos, logos, and especially pathos to convey his point. The initial, primary audience of Obamas speech is the people that are attending the HRCs annual dinner. The president is always under scrutiny and his words are often broadcasted nationwide, so the message gets disseminated across the country regardless of his immediate audience. The people attending this convention are clearly already supportive of the LGBT cause and Obama does not need to persuade them that equality is essential. However, Obama still needs to inspire action from attendees, while persuading those that watch the speech coverage on the news. He also can inspire other politicians to support equality legislation. The HRC dinner may serve as a venue for conveying a message, but it is directed at all people. Ethos is absolutely essential to any speech; without the respect of an audience, ones message falls on deaf ears. As president, Barack Obama naturally garners the respect of (at least half) the nation. He is a representative of both the people and the government. He has a history of strong morals and convictions that engender respect. Obama has helped pass legislation for gay rights in the past and came out publicly in support of gay marriage However, he does not solely

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rely on his audience to remember his prior actions in support. He reminds the audience that he kept his promise to repeal the dont ask, dont tell policy when he spoke at the dinner two years earlier, saying Many questioned whether wed succeed in repealing dont ask, dont tell. And, yes, it took two years to get the repeal through Congress But with the help of HRC, we got it done. This shows the audience that Obama is a man of his word and is clearly on their side when it comes to LGBT rights. Another large contributing factor to Barack Obamas ethos is his race. As an African American, he can relate to the discrimination that gay people face today. The struggles of his ancestry still carry on to this generation and have impact decades after the ending of legal segregation. This gives Obama credibility in the eyes of the audience as an experienced victim of adversity caused by discrimination, legal and otherwise. A white president would not necessarily have the same commiseration, and would detract from his ethos. Obama also develops the connection between he and his audience by using the pronoun we extensively throughout the speech. This shows that he is also a part of their movement, and they are acting together, strengthening the sense of respect for Obama and clarifying that his motives are genuine. At the very end of his speech, he reminds the audience of his ultimate goal as president: to better America. By saying [a]nd thats not just the story of the gay rights movement. Thats the story of Americathe slow, inexorable march towards a more perfect union, Obama is recalling the preamble of the Constitution and reiterating his status as president. Obamas ethos allows his message to come across in a more convincing manner. Obama also needs to appeal to the logical side of the audience to avoid being overly emotional and lacking factual evidence. He does this by explaining the progress of the movement over time. He specifically cites an anti-hate crime bill, medical legislation to treat gay partners just as they do straight partners, lifting the HIV/AIDS travel bam, the repealing of Dont Ask,

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Dont Tell, and condemns the Defense of Marriage Act. This shows the audience that although the movement may sometimes be frustratingly slow, progress is happening. By naming specific advances rather than abstract generalizations, he inspires the audience to keep fighting for more and more rights until full equality is finally reached. Obama also appeals to the audiences logical side by comparing the plight of LGBT people to that of the African Americans. [I]t wasnt right to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for others to tell African Americans to be patient in the fight for equal rights a half century ago is very powerful because it draws distinct parallels that the audience has an established understanding. Obama is taking a bold stance by saying that people should not have to wait for equality and shows that equal rights are not too far down the road. History shows that groups that are discriminated against eventually achieve equal rights under the eyes of the law (though some sects of society may lag behind). Obama does not need to extensively use logic in this speech because he does not have to persuade his audience into thinking gay and lesbian people need equal rights; hes trying to inspire action and encourage the movement. Reading off statistics and cold, hard facts for fifteen minutes would put his audience to sleep rather than provoke the desire to change something. In this case, emotion is a far better device for communicating a message to inspire action. The topic of equal rights for LGBT people is very sensitive and emotionally charged; thus Obamas utilization of pathos is extremely important in his speech. Obama uses humor to first set the audience at ease, making jokes about talking with LGBT leader Lady Gaga and how he cannot compete with Cyndi Lauper. Although he is talking about a serious issue, he utilizes humor to set a more comforting tone. He uses this to transition into his more serious subject matter. The following passage is especially powerful: Now, I dont have to tell you that we have a ways to go in that struggle. I dont have to tell you how many are still denied their

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basic rights -- Americans who are still made to feel like second-class citizens, who have to live a lie to keep their jobs, or who are afraid to walk the street, or down the hall at school. By using anaphora to repeat I dont have to tell you at the beginning of successive clauses, Obama develops a sense of rhythm to convey his tone of frustration. He is commiserating with the audience and showing that he shares their annoyance over the state of equality. Obama also uses anaphora extensively in other parts of his speech. He talks about what we dont believe in, beginning several consecutive sentences with the phrase. This shows he is firmly taking a stand, but it certainly has a negative tone due to the diction. Towards the end of the speech, Obama again uses anaphora, but in a much more positive and uplifting manner. It happens when a father realizes he doesnt just love his daughter, but also her wife... It happens when a video sparks a movement to let every single young person know theyre not alone, and things will get better. It happens when people look past their ultimately minor differences to see themselves in the hopes and struggles of their fellow human beings. Again, a sense of rhythm is created that inspires the audience. By using positive sentences closer to the end of his speech, he leaves the audience in a much more uplifted and inspired manner than if he had concluded with the we dont believe in paragraph. Obama also uses anaphora coupled with epistrophe by saying we are making change. We are making real and lasting change. By reiterating his point, it causes the audience to reflect upon what he said. Modifying his prior statement with real and lasting shows how important this change really is. It serves to inspire the audience to continue along this path. Obama also discusses how people need to work together to make sure young people feel safe and comfortable with being gay or bisexual. This is a very important appeal to pathos because people are always concerned with children and making sure they do not feel like an outcast; it is a very relatable, universal concern. By stressing the word together, he furthers the

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connection between himself and the audience. Obama uses the names of specific people, such as Judy Shepherd, the mother of a boy who was tortured to death for being gay, and Janice Langbehn, who could not stand by her partners bed as she lay dying. These are the struggles of real people. They are not hypothetical or abstract. This is far more impactful than just describing a generic hate crime because these are things that actually happened. When he is talking about bulling, Obama says, Its wrong. Its destructive. Its never acceptable. These short, choppy sentences greatly differ from his typically lengthy and eloquent ones. This makes the sentences stand out immensely and displays Obamas no-nonsense attitude towards bullying. Obama also uses climax by saying Every single American -- gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender -every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. He starts with the law, colder and more objective, and escalates to the greater society. This escalation serves to excite and inspire those who are working for this change. It is impossible to completely remove emotion from a topic like this; Obama recognizes this and embraces the emotional side rather than keeping the speech strictly professional and stoic. Obamas argument is bolstered by appeals to ethos, logos, and particularly pathos to convey his ideas on the status of the LGBT movement and to inspire further change. The purpose of the speech is to inspire action from more people (and show gratitude to those who already have helped) as well as to encourage politicians to sponsor equality legislation. At the time of this speech, Barack Obama had not yet been reelected. Coming out with a bold stance on an issue like this can swing voters one way or the other, so he had to choose his words extremely carefully to give himself a good chance in the 2012 election. It is clear that a lot of thought went into his speech; every phrase is carefully selected and written with precise diction to serve a rhetorical purpose.