Democratic congressman Joe Kennedy has given a stinging rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, labelling him a bully and defending LGBT people.
In his speech to Congress and the nation, Trump tried to paint a positive picture of his presidency and seemed to offer an olive branch to Democrats across the aisle.
But the 37-year-old LGBT ally tore into the President, accusing him of targeting same-sex couples and transgender children.
Kennedy, who serves as Chair of the Congressional Transgender Equality Task Force, invited a transgender soldier, Staff Sgt. Patricia King, as his guest to the State of the Union.
And the Democrat, who represents Massachusetts, used the opportunity to hold Trump to account for his treatment of LGBT people.
He said that the administration “isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us – they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection.
“For them, dignity isn’t something you’re born with but something you measure – by your net worth, your celebrity, your headlines, your crowd size.
“Not to mention, the gender of your spouse,” he added.
Kennedy continued with the message that equality was under attack.
“Their record is a rebuke of our highest American ideal: the belief that we are all worthy, we are all equal and we all count,” he said.
“In the eyes of our law and our leaders, our God and our government.
“That is the American promise. But today that promise is being broken.”
Kennedy told the crowd in Fall River, Massachusetts that “we are bombarded with one false choice after another.
“As if the parent who lies awake terrified that their transgender son will be beaten and bullied at school is any more or less legitimate than the parent whose heart is shattered by a daughter in the grips of opioid addiction.
“So here is the answer Democrats offer tonight: we choose both. We fight for both.
“Because the strongest, richest, greatest nation in the world shouldn’t leave anyone behind. We choose a better deal for all who call this country home.”
The congressman said that the public was watching “a Justice Department rolling back civil rights by the day.
“Hatred and supremacy proudly marching in our streets.”
“Bullets tearing through our classrooms, concerts, and congregations. Targeting our safest, sacred places.”
In October, gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on people attending a concert in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring another 851 in the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
“This is not right,” said Kennedy. “This is not who we are.”
But he had an uplifting message too.
“Bullies may land a punch,” he told the crowd. “They might leave a mark.
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“But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defence of their future.
“Politicians can be cheered for the promises they make. Our country will be judged by the promises we keep.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, also responded to Trump’s speech.
She said: “Managing to read a pre-written speech off a teleprompter does not make one Presidential or lend a single ounce of legitimacy to Trump’s anti-LGBTQ agenda.
“Trump has spent the past year targeting vulnerable communities and surrounding himself with anti-black, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-women, and anti-LGBTQ activists with the goal of exacerbating discrimination and erasing LGBTQ Americans from the fabric of this nation.”
Since taking office a year ago, Trump’s administration has revoked guidance which protected trans school students and proposed enabling medical staff to refuse treatment of any kind to trans people.
In recent months, the administration has repeatedly acted in favour of homophobic Christians who want to be able to use ‘religious freedom’ to discriminate against gay people.
Trump has signed an order permitting anti-LGBT discrimination at work and attacked LGBT people in his Religious Freedom Day proclamation, and his administration has told the Supreme Court that businesses should be able to deny service to same-sex couples.
Watch Kennedy’s full speech here: