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ICYMI - Five Awesome Moments from the State of the Union Address

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In case you missed it…

by Laila Khalili

 

  1. When President Obama became the first president to acknowledge transgender Americans during a SOTU address.

“As Americans, we respect human dignity…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.”

Video here.

There is still a great deal of bigotry, hatred, and violence directed at members of the LGBT community. Sadly, transgender Americans are more likely to experience violence that the rest of the population simply because they are transgender. Acknowledging that persecution exists against transgender Americans is a huge step forward to ensure that all people are provided the same rights and respect.

 

  1. President Obama declared same sex marriage to be a civil right, coming off the heels of the Supreme Court’s announcement that it will take up the issue of marriage equality this term.

“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 7 in 10 Americans call home.”

Currently, 35 states grant all people the right to marry the person they love, and six states have a pro-marriage ruling pending further action, including Texas.

 

  1. When President Obama declared that all women should have access to the healthcare they need…: 

We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.”

It’s true that abortion and teen pregnancy rates have been declining in the US, but we still have higher rates compared to nations like Canada and the United Kingdom. If we want to see more progress we need to support medically accurate sex education and increase access to reproductive healthcare, including birth control and emergency contraception. On the first day of the 114th Congress, Republican lawmakers introduced a nation wide 20 week abortion ban, mimicking legislation passed here in Texas in 2013 and seen repeatedly in state legislatures across the country. This legislation removes a woman’s right to make her own informed decisions with her doctor and access the health care she needs.

…stated it’s time for equal pay for equal work:

“Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time.”

(I hope Governor Greg Abbott was listening.)

and made a rousing argument for affordable child care and paid leave:

“In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. […] Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own.”

 

  1.  POTUS addressed the need for our criminal justice system to be reformed following the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless other unarmed black men and women in the US: 

“We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. […] “Surely, we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all.”

 

  1. President Obama’s epic mic drop:

When the President stated he no longer has any campaigns to run, some hecklers cheered, so he responded by going off the script, adding, “I know, because I won both of them.”

 

 

 

The full transcript can be found here.