The word ‘lesbian’ just made its first-ever appearance in a State of the Union speech

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When he was first elected president, Barack Obama did not publicly support gay marriage. Seven years later, Obama praised it as a "civil right" during his State of the Union address.


In fact, it was the first time that any U.S. president used the terms "lesbian," “transgender,” or "bisexual" in their annual address to Congress.


Obama talked about the evolution of the issue of same-sex marriage.

"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," he said.

In discussing the U.S.'s role in the world, he said that Americans defend free speech and "condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender."


It wasn't the first time LGBT issues were mentioned in the State of the Union. President Bill Clinton first said the term "gay" in his 2000 address while pushing Congress to pass hate-crimes legislation.

But Obama's timing was important. Last week, the Supreme Court decided to take a case that could decide whether same-sex couples have the right to marry everywhere in the United States.


Jordan Fabian is Fusion's politics editor, writing about campaigns, Congress, immigration, and more. When he's not working, you can find him at the ice rink or at home with his wife, Melissa.

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