With the impending Supreme Court hearings in June — which will determine whether marriage equality will become a federally protected right — Obama did the LGBT community a solid during his recent State of the Union address, by talking about how Americans “value the dignity and worth” of its queer citizens. His speech also marked the first time that bisexual and transgender folks were referenced in an SOTU address (and the word “lesbian,” too). The first time teh gayz made their SOTU debut was in 2000, when then-President Bill Clinton used the more generic “gay” in reference to a hate crime. Obama later referenced the gays in relation to his work in ending Clinton’s stupid Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law.
The Year in Queer
Gay Area Theater
[jump] It’s slightly nuts that the B and the T in LGBT have never before received recognition in a State of the Union address, but their appearance may go to show how much Americans’ perceptions of queer people have changed in recent years. What once was used as a social wedge, queer issues are now (mostly) considered to be basic human rights, which is pretty huge. In addition, Obama also praised same-sex marriage as “a story of freedom across our country” and “a civil right.” He also said that Americans should “condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.”
“It is very heartening that President Obama has chosen to speak up for transgender people in a State of the Union Speech about American values,” National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling added in a statement. “While other years, he has focused on a laundry lists of policies, mention there would have been important. In those years when we were not mentioned in the State of the Union, the President was still leading the way in advancing policies that have improved and saved transgender lives.”
Though a minor victory, Obama’s speech was certainly a boon for trans and bi visibility. Here’s hoping that the tide in 2015 continues to turn toward acceptance.
Watch Obama’s SOTU below (or if you only want to watch the 29 seconds of queerness, Slate has you covered):
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