US President Barack Obama has marked the end of an exceptional 12 months for global LGBT awareness by becoming the first president to explicitly use the term in the State of the Union address.
Towards the end of his speech last night, while discussing human rights, Mr Obama said:”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. We do these things not only because they are the right things to do, but because ultimately they will make us safer.”
While former US President Bill Clinton was the first to mention gay people in a State of the Union address, Mr Obama has become the first to use the words ‘lesbian’, ‘bisexual’ and ‘transgender’. The latter is probably the most significant, with the awareness of transgender issues raised significantly during 2014 in the US and across the world.
Mr Obama also praised the rapid progress on same-sex marriage across the United States over the past year. He said: “I still believe that we are one people. I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long. I believe this because over and over in my six years in office,
“I have seen America at its best…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.”