Obama at #SOTU: As Americans, we condemn persecution of LGBT people.

Tonight’s State of the Union address marked several mentions of the LGBT community, including growing acceptance of marriage equality, and the historic first mention of bisexual and transgender people. The President, amid speaking about the economy, national security, and his vision for the next year, provided several historic comments for the LGBT community.

But first, who was there:

In addition to openly LGBT leaders like Senator Tammy Baldwin, and Reps. Jared Polis, Kyrsten Sinema, Mark Pocan, and Mark Takano, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida invited newlyweds Todd and Jeff Delmay as her guests to the Union Address. Todd and Jeff were the second couple in Florida to marry on January 5th when Judge Sarah Zabel lifted her stay on same-sex marriage. They were plaintiffs, along with Equality Florida Institute and five other same-sex couples, in Pareto v. Ruvin, which successfully challenged Florida’s ban on marriage equality.

President Obama spoke about the rising intolerance of discrimination against minorities, including LGBT people. It was reportedly the first time that lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people were named in the State of the Union:

As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims — the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace. That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.

In his remarks, Barack Obama talked about the growing acceptance of marriage equality, mirroring his own evolution on the issue:

I still believe that we are one people. I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long. I believe this because over and over in my six years in office, I have seen America at its best. I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California; and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London. I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson and Newtown; in Boston, West, Texas, and West Virginia. I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains; from Midwest assembly lines to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home.

Obama then closed by talking about how the diversity of the United States, including people of all sexual orientations, keeps America strong:

I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen — man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability.

Any State of the Union speech is historic, but tonight, we were able to witness history in the making. For LGBT people, hearing themselves and some of their issues named, makes this speech one that sets an agenda to create even more LGBT history and further LGBT equality.

 

Obama at #SOTU: As Americans, we condemn persecution of LGBT people. | GLAAD

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