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Obama delivers ‘State of the Union’ — ‘An America Built to Last’

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

WASHINGTON — While there was only one direct reference to anything gay in President Obama’s third State of the Union address on Tuesday night, the speech and a large number of White House activities surrounding it was inclusive of gays.

President Obama’s opening remarks Tuesday night held out the military as a good example of people working together, adding that service members “don’t obsess over their differences,” a comment that could certainly serve as a reference to how well the military has adapted to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the ban on gays.

And his closing remarks returned to that theme.

“When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight,” said the president. “When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.”

Some media reports had speculated before the speech that President Obama might use the speech to call for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) or to say that his personal attitude about same-sex marriage had evolved to one of support. There were no statements from the White House to substantiate those reports, but Human Rights Campaign media relations director Michael Cole-Schwartz acknowledged that HRC had been “in touch with the White House to express our desire to see LGBT people and issues included in the president’s speech.”

“Not only does the President have a record of accomplishment to tout,” said Cole-Schwartz, “including issues important to our community can also be a powerful tool toward further progress. We understand that there are many competing demands on a state of the union address and we hope our community will be given due consideration.”

Asked what, specifically, HRC asked for, Cole-Schwartz said, “We made the case for why several issues could and should be included in the address, particularly how the need for workplace protections for LGBT people dovetails with the President’s likely messages about jobs.”

In his first State of the Union address, President Obama called for repeal of the federal law barring openly gay people from serving in the military. And last year, just a month after signing into law the bill that repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the president used his State of the Union address to urge universities that had been barring military recruiters over the gay ban to start allowing recruiters back on campus.

This year, President Obama brought an indirect spotlight on gays in the military by inviting one openly gay service member to sit with the First Lady in her special gallery seats in the House chamber to watch the speech.
Aubrey Sarvis, head of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), called the gesture “a clear victory in the fight to achieve full equality for service members.”

The service member was Colonel Ginger Wallace, an openly lesbian intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force. Also included among 28 guests was a second openly gay guest, Lorelei Kilker. Kilker, an environmental chemist, filed a lawsuit that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission used to secure equal pay for women at a Colorado company.

Wallace, of McLean, Virginia, and Kilker of Brighton, Colorado, were guests at a reception at the White House and then traveled to the Capitol with the First Lady. Their partners watched the speech at the White House at a special event.

The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce sent out a press release Tuesday, noting that its communications director, Laura Berry, would also be at the White House during the speech for a “social media watch party” that was to be followed by “a life Q & A with top Obama advisers.”

The Republican Party had its response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, via Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. And Log Cabin Republican leader R. Clarke Cooper issued a press statement Tuesday morning criticizing Democrats for “telling a thousand and one stories to distract the American voter, but even Queen Scheherazade couldn’t spin her way out of a thousand days without passing a budget.”

“American families, gay and straight, all know that the first step to regaining fiscal health is writing a budget that clearly sets out priorities and limits spending to what you can afford,” said Cooper. “Senate Democrats have engaged in an unprecedented dereliction of duty. There is nothing President Obama can say in the State of the Union address tonight to hide their failure from the American people. Just more words will not alleviate voters’ discontent. Log Cabin Republicans look forward to electing a Republican Senate majority this November that is ready to get down to business.”

White House officials are taking time to answer questions related to the State of the Union via Twitter for the next several days. On Thursday, it will hold “community-focused discussions with policy advisors,” including a specific time slot to address LGBT questions. That conversation, with White House Senior Policy Advisor Miriam Vogel and openly gay White House Associate Director for Public Engagement Gautam Raghavan, will take place at 11 a.m. People can pose questions on Twitter by using the hashtag #WHChat. People can follow the questions and answers on Twitter at #WHLive. And anyone who cannot follow the discussion live, can access it later at

And on Monday, President Obama will participate in a Google+Hangout event from the West Wing of the White House to answer questions that have been submitted. People wishing to propose a question can go to

For more details and a complete schedule of events, click here.

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Filed under: National Headlines

10 more reader comments:

  1. it was bullshit

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 8:36pm
  2. Meh

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 8:37pm
  3. yep. yep.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 8:44pm
  4. WTF get over it, the point of state of the union isnt just to deal with gay issues its about more ecomic things. So get over yourselfs. the state of the union wasnt bullshit he said some really important things. God sometimes the “issues” posted on here are so annoying.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 8:50pm
  5. I was happy with him mentioning it.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 8:51pm
  6. I seriously can’t believe it’s 2012 and in the USA we are still fighting for our rights. #smh

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 8:58pm
  7. It is to deal with all issues of the
    American people,
    Freedom & Equality for all Americans!
    How can We grant freedom to immigrants when we are not Free?

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 9:10pm
  8. Fuk Obama! Equality IS thee most impt issue!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 9:18pm
  9. Obama 2012.
    Obama Vs Bush ,lets recap shall we…!
    1. Got Rid of Saddam Hussein ✔ 2. Got Osama bin laden ✔ 3. Unemployment rate 8.5% ✔ 4. 1.6 million jobs created with no GOP help ✔ 5. 22 months of job and economic growth with no help ✔ 6. Ended war in Iraq, troops are heading home ✔ 7. DADT repeal ✔ 8. Not one tax hike in 3 years ✔ 9. Still carry 80% of the black vote ✔ 10. Same wife for 15 years with no extra marital affairs ✔ 11. Saved the auto industry and 1.5 million jobs ✔ 12. Assisted in ousting Khaddafi/Liberating Libya ✔ 13. Only active President to receive Nobel Peace prize while in office. 14. Mortgage modification to prevent more foreclosures ✔ 15. STILL fighting for middle class families ✔ 16. Health Care Reform Bill, preventing insurance companies from denying insurance because of a pre-existing condition✔ 17. Lifted restrictions granting Cuban Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send remittances to the island ✔ 18. Cut prescription drug cost for medicare recipients by 50% ✔ 19. Extended Benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees✔ 20. Appointed more openly gay officials than any other president in US history ✔ 21. Created more private sector jobs in 2010 than during entire Bush years ✔ 22. Appointed first Latina to the US Supreme Court ✔ 23. Provided the Department of Veterans Affairs with more than $1.4 billion to improve services to America’s Veterans ✔ 24. Issued executive order to repeal Bush era restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research ✔ 25. Established Credit Card Bill of Rights ✔

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:30pm
  10. The United States of America supposedly prides itself on equality and justice for all, but are the last in the free world to provide equal rights to gays.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:58pm