Visibility in the 2015 State of the Union Address

Photo by Pete Souza, Talk Radio News Service -- A Member of Congress wearing a ribbon in support of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., reads along as President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2011
Photo by Pete Souza, Talk Radio News Service

Last night’s State of the Union Address from President Obama has called for a lot of action form Congress. I’ve talked before about Obama attempting to make community college free for American students in the near future, and how this will ultimately benefit the nation as we aim to grow and move forward, but there is a list of other things Obama wants to get done before he leaves office which also includes expanding paid sick leave and reforming the tax code.

I have no more campaigns to run. My only agenda for the next two years is the same as the one I’ve had since the day I swore an oath on the steps of this Capitol – to do what I believe is best for America. If you share the broad vision I outlined tonight, join me in the work at hand. If you disagree with parts of it, I hope you’ll at least work with me where you do agree. And I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger. -President Barack Obama

According to his State of the Union address, Obama aims to help the middle class, veto anything that “[puts] the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or [unravels] the new rules on Wall Street, or [refights] past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix.” He wants to negotiate a deal to end the nuclear program with other world powers, reject any bill with fresh sanctions on Iran, work toward net neutrality, raise the minimum wage, and help fight climate change among other things. However, I think the greatest thing Obama mentioned was something that has never been mentioned before in any State of the Union speech.

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. -President Obama

Never before has lesbian, bisexual and transgender people been recognized in an inaugural address. Visibility and advocacy for their rights and civil liberties have been kept out of the highly publicized to-do-list until now, and it’s wonderful to see our President acknowledge that we still have work to do as a nation to achieve equality for everyone.

In the past Obama has already taken several steps to ban discrimination against the LGBT community. The President has already signed an executive order making it illegal to fire or harass employees of federal contractors based on their sexual orientation or gender identity last year. However, now he has included his mission for equality in this public speech.

It is important for everyone, and especially those in positions of authority, to highlight the injustices of the world and help promote action to correct them. Obama is leading an example for change, acceptance, and understanding for our fellow Americans in the LGBT community. Recognizing that they should be treated with love and respect like everyone else is only helps other people recognize this as well, and I am happy to finally see this happen in a State of the Union Address.

“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law –- for if we are truly created equal,” said Obama, “then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

Below is a video from last night if you missed the speech. Click here for the full transcript.

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