WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama's inaugural address on Monday marked the first time a president used the occasion to praise progress on gay rights, an indication of shifting public attitudes on the issue.

In the speech marking the start of his second term, Obama placed the struggle for gay rights squarely in the pantheon of two other defining civil rights movements in American history: those for blacks and women.

"The most evident of truths - that all of us are created equal - is the star that guides us still," he said. "Just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall." The 1848 Seneca Falls, New York, convention was an early women's rights conference. Selma, Alabama, was the site of a pivotal 1965 civil rights march demanding equality for black Americans. The Stonewall riots of 1969 were protests against a police raid of a New York gay bar and opened the door to gay rights activism.

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