For the first time in history, an American president has mentioned lesbian, bisexual and transgender people 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,” said Obama in his annual speech to Congress and the American people on Tuesday.
He is also the first US president to have included gay people’s right to equality in a presidential inauguration speech, which he did in January 2013.
On Tuesday, Obama went on to address the issue of same-sex marriage, stating: “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.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) applauded the president for his remarks, noting that he “and his administration have consistently and courageously stood up for marriage equality…”
Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, last week confirmed that the government will file a brief with the Supreme Court supporting the legalisation of same-sex marriage across the entire nation, ahead of that court’s upcoming hearing on the matter.
Gay and lesbian couples can currently get married in 36 American states, meaning that 70 percent of Americans now live in a state with marriage equality.