Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing
During tonight’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama reiterated his long commitment to legal and social equality for LGBT Americans.
According to some reports, President Obama’s remarks tonight are the first time in the nation’s history the words “bisexual” and “transgender” were included in a State of the Union address.
"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," President Obama stated. "We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer."
"I’ve watched Americans beat back adversity from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains; from Midwest assembly lines to the Mid-Atlantic seaboard," he later continued. "I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home."
President Obama and his administration have consistently and courageously stood up for marriage equality as the issue has faced Supreme Court scrutiny in recent years. In 2013, the Justice Department and the U.S. Solicitor General submitted amicus briefs or provided legal support in both Windsor v. United States and Hollingsworth v. Perry. Following the Windsor ruling striking down key portions of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, Attorney General Eric Holder directed federal agencies to implement the ruling swiftly and broadly, leading to the single greatest conferral of legal equality on LGBT couples in American history.
More recently, President Obama has declared that he believes the constitution guarantees a right to marriage—and outgoing Attorney General Holder has confirmed that the administration will file a supportive amicus brief in the four federal marriages equality cases that were granted by the Supreme Court last week.
In the coming weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider one of the most significant constitutional issues in recent history: whether the U.S. Constitution allows for states to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples by denying them the right to marry or refusing to recognize the same-sex marriages performed in jurisdictions where they are legal.
Read President Obama's complete remarks here.