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Two openly lesbian guests to join First Lady at ‘State of the Union’ adress

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Colonel Ginger Wallace, an openly lesbian intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force, will be one of two openly gay people in the First Lady’s gallery seats tonight, when President Obama delivers his State of the Union address for 2012.

The second openly gay guest is Lorelei Kilker, an environmental chemist who was part of the government’s class action suit to secure equal wages for women.

Courtesy Ginger Wallace

Ginger Wallace

Wallace, of McLean, Virginia, and Kilker of Brighton, Colorado, will be guests at a reception at the White House and then travel to the Capitol with the First Lady to sit in a special section of the House balcony to hear the president’s speech.

Wallace, reached by phone Tuesday morning, said her partner of 11 years, Kathy Knopf, will be with her at the White House reception and then will watch the speech with other spouses at the White House.

Wallace, 43, said the White House asked Servicemembers United leader Alex Nicholson for names of openly gay service members to consider to be honored with the invitation. In addition, Wallace had been the subject of an article in the Washington, D.C. gay newspaper, the Washington Blade, in early December. The article noted that Knopf would be participating in Wallace’s promotion ceremony. Then, that article was quoted a few weeks later by White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett in a Huffington Post piece on the anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the bill to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“I could not be more honored or proud,” said Wallace, Tuesday morning. “I’m representing thousands and thousands who have served or are serving…. But it’s truly not about us. It’s about all the gays and lesbians who have served, and those who served and we’re not as fortunate as I to have full careers, and those who will serve in the future. And it is about our families and partners.”

Wallace is currently in training for deployment to Afghanistan this spring to serve as an adviser to senior officials in the Afghan government and military.

Lorelei Kilker could not be reached at deadline today, but a White House advisory notes that she is an analytical chemist for an environmental lab.

“In October of 2011,” notes the advisory, “Ms. Kilker was one of a class of women who benefitted from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) investigation of alleged systematic sex discrimination at her former employer that resulted in the award of back wages and significant remedial relief, arrangements that were achieved through a cooperative process between the employer and EEOC.”

An EEOC press release October 3, 2011, identified Kilker as having been an employee of Western Sugar Cooperative when she brought to the EEOC’s attention practices by the company that resulted in female employees being denied the same training, desirable work assignments, and promotions as its male employees. Kilker filed a lawsuit on behalf of herself and other women at the company and, with the intervention of EEOC, Western Sugar agreed to make “significant remedial relief.”

The advisory notes that Kilker has a domestic partner and two children and that they live in Brighton.

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21 more reader comments:

  1. The race for the white house is ON!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 9:56am
  2. AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:03am

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:24am
  4. Symbolism that doesn’t help gay and lesbian Americans. Where is ENDA? Where is UAFA? Where is marriage equality? Why is it that DOMA is still in force. Having two lesbians listen to your state of the union is nothing less than symbolism and playing politics.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:24am
  5. el come a long way thanks to the courage of women like Cammermeyer Grethe

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:30am
  6. I can not wait until it makes no difference who joins them….when we dont have to point out who is GLBT.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:31am
  7. Given that this is an election year, this is a brave thing for Pres. and Mrs. Obama to do. This action/event is going to be run in the despicable smear campaign adds from the ultra-conservative, right-wing hysterics come this summer/fall. Sure we have a long way to go. But we have come a long way. Can you see ANY of this happening if a GOP’er was in office? I think not. Change takes time. Give the president and his wife credit for the things they have done, and continue to pressure him/them for the things they need to keep working on. I personally am waiting to see what Pres. Obama says in the State of the Union address tonight. I’m hoping for a date to end DOMA, and a solid affirmation for marriage equality. Watch for the Republican response to the SOTUA and see if you feel they are any more “supportive” of GLBT “issues/rights”.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:38am
  8. oh this “openly gay” thing is just so tiresome. Come to Canada, folks! We don’t CARE who you sleep with!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:50am
  9. Gayle canada just anulled its countries same sex marriages,so canada is not the best place right now

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:53am
  10. Im proud that this is happening though Equality for all :)x

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 10:54am
  11. Dima, no they didn’t!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 11:00am
  12. Way to go Mrs President..

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 11:01am
  13. It’s about time! Pride in not just being a service member but pride in who you are at the core. As one straight female veteran, bravo ladies for your services and being you!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 11:07am
  14. Dima, the Tory Government in Ottawa did an about face. Canada still recognizes all same-sex marriages officiated not only within Canada, but wherever there is legal marriage equality.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 11:14am
  15. Hats off to both women for over comin an accomplishin and makin life better for all of us Thaank You

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 11:20am
    this is, or wants to be, a set of sites from every country of the world, where you can find what you are looking for… i’m trying.. :)

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 11:51am
  17. Lol, Dima, I don’t know where you get your news. There was a slight hiccup that needed to be fixed in Canada’s same-sex marriage law referring to immigrant marriages. That’s all. They didn’t annul any marriages whatsoever.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 12:03pm
  18. I look forward to the day when everyone is referred to as a person. Not having to state their sexual orientation as if that makes them different. You don’t hear about people being labelled “straight” when they are brought up in conversation do you? We’re all just people.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 12:34pm
  19. Angela I completely agree with you!!!!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 2:27pm
  20. When I have kids, I am going to raise them in a home where being gay, lesbian, etc, is seen as normal, and not weird at all!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 2:28pm
  21. …Because it’s not!

    Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 2:28pm