Clay Aiken

5 LGBTQ things you need to know today, Jan. 31

1. President Trump delivered his first State of the Union speech last night, omitting any references to LGBTQ rights. In Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy's response, however, he specifically mentioned transgender ri...
Joe Kennedy

5 LGBT things you need to know today, Jan. 29

1. LCD Soundsystem, featuring transgender synth player Gavin Russom, won a Grammy last night for best dance recording for their song "Tonight." Also, "Dear Evan Hansen," written by openly gay songwriter Ben Pas...

5 LGBT things you need to know today, Jan. 13

1. Aditi Hardikar, President Obama's LGBT liaison, is stepping down to join Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. 2. Lesbian activist and author Jeanne Cordova has died at 67. 3. This gay man thinks hi...

5 LGBT things you need to know today, Jan. 12

1. Kim Davis will attend President Obama's State of the Union address tonight as a guest of the Family Research Council, while Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in last summer's U.S. Supreme Court case overtu...

5 LGBT things you need to know today, Jan. 11

1) SCOTUS marriage plaintiff Jim Obergefell will be a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama and will sit in Mrs. Obama's box during President Obama's final State of The Union address on Jan.12. 2)ABC has cast o...

5 LGBT things you need to know today, Jan. 7

1. The Washington Blade looks at whether President Obama will include LGBT issues in his final State of the Union address next week. 2. "Our marriage law says there is the freedom to marry and gender equalit...

5 LGBT things you need to know today, Jan. 20

1. "It's just another part of the whirlwind, but a really great part.” One of the gay couples who successfully sued for the right to marry in Florida will be in attendance at President Obama's State of the Unio...
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Obama includes LGBT issues in State of the Union

President Obama continued his trend of including references to LGBT people in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, but he drew mixed reviews from community leaders.

Early in the one-hour speech, Obama told Congress and the national television audience, “It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country – the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love.”

Later, talking about the military, he said, “We will ensure equal treatment for all service members, and equal benefits for their families – gay and straight.”

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LGBT activists among those invited to attend tonight’s State of the Union address

Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith

A lesbian activist who works to help military families is among First Lady Michelle Obama’s invited guests for tonight's State of the Union Address. LGBT Americans will also be listening to hear if President Obama includes marriage equality or other gay issues in the speech, as he did in his inaugural address last month.

Tracey Hepner, the co-founder of Military Partners and Families Coalition, is the wife of the military's first-ever lesbian general, Tammy Smith.

From the White House description of Hepner, distributed today: Tracey is a co-founder of the Military Partners and Families Coalition (MPFC), which provides support, resources, education, and advocacy for LGBT military partners and their families.  Outside of her work with MPFC, Tracey works full time for the Department of Homeland Security as a Master Behavior Detection Officer.  She is married to the first openly gay or lesbian general officer in the military, Army Brigadier General Tammy Smith.

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Obama mentions gay soldiers in State of the Union, but was it enough?

President Barack Obama briefly mentioned gay soldiers in his third State of the Union address last night.

Sitting in attendance with First Lady Michelle Obama were Loreliei Kilker and Cononel Ginger Wallace, two out and proud lesbian women. Kilker was awarded a monetary settlement after an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation found systemic sex discrimination at her previous employment. Wallace and her partner, Kathy Knoph, participated together in Wallace's recent promotion ceremony, the first promotion ceremony featuring a same-sex couple after the repeal of the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy.

The president didn't mention either Kilker or Wallace in his address. His only mention of anything close to acknowledging the gay rights struggle came just four paragraphs from the end of his speech.

Which brings me back to where I began. Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian or Latino; conservative or liberal; rich or poor; gay or straight. When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you’re in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one Nation, leaving no one behind.

Reaction to the speech was mixed among gay rights groups.