WASHINGTON — Openly gay NBA player Jason Collins will be among the guests to sit with first lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday when President Barack Obama delivers the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday.
The first lady’s guests are often chosen because they symbolize an issue or policy the president is promoting. The White House announced six guests on Monday, with other names to be released ahead of Obama’s address.
The guests announced so far are:
Jason Collins, Los Angeles: In April, 35-year-old Collins became the first active male athlete on a major American sports team to come out as openly gay. Collins played 12 years in the NBA, going to the playoffs nine times and making the league finals twice. The president has said Collins’ announcement marked a point of progress for the gay community.
Carlos Arredondo and Jeff Bauman, Boston: A photograph of Arredondo, 53, and Bauman, 27, has become one of the iconic images from the April 2013 bombing. The photo captured Arredondo rushing a badly injured Bauman away from the scene of the attack. Bauman, who lost both legs in the attack, played a crucial role in identifying the bombers while he was in the hospital recovering. The two men have become close friends, the White House said.
Gary Bird, M oore, Okla.: Bird is the fire chief in Moore, Okla., which was hit by a massive tornado in May 2013. The tornado killed 25 people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses. The White House said Bird and his team worked through the path of the storm to rescue survivors.
Kathy Hollowell-Makle, Washington: Hollowell-Ma kle was the 2013 teacher of the year in the District of Columbia public school system. A former Teach for America corps member, Hollowell-Makle teaches at Abram Simon Elementary, where 90 percent of her students demonstrated early literacy at proficient or advanced levels.