"The country has shifted," said Dawn Moretz, 45, an elementary school teacher in Marshville, N.C., who was walking with a friend on the edge of the inaugural parade route Monday. Gay rights is "still a hot-button issue, but it's not as hush-hush as it used to be," she said.
The inaugural ceremonies reflected that shift. In addition to the lesbian and gay band that marched in the parade, officials chose a gay poet, Richard Blanco, to read at the celebration.
Such symbolism, however, would pale in comparison with a Supreme Court declaration. The justices have agreed to hear the two gay marriage cases in late March. Both pose questions about equal rights for same-sex couples.
In one case from New York, the justices will decide whether legally married gay couples are entitled to equal benefits under federal law. Obama's lawyers have joined with gay rights advocates in the case.