Obama's comments conclude a years-long span of State of the Union references to gay men and women, including the eventual repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" and on to the fight for marriage equality. In 2015, the president was even the first ever to reference transgender Americans in an address.
Take a look at the evolution of LGBT rights in America through Obama's last seven State of the Union addresses.
"We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do."
"Our troops come from every corner of this country -– they’re black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love ... It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation."
"Those of us who’ve been sent here to serve can learn a thing or two from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; Asian, Latino, Native American; conservative, liberal; rich, poor; gay, straight. When you’re marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails."
"We will ensure equal treatment for all servicemembers, and equal benefits for their families -- gay and straight.
"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, no matter what you look like, or who you love."
"Across the country, we’re partnering with mayors, governors, and state legislatures on issues from homelessness to marriage equality."
"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."
"I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we’re a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen -- man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino, Asian, immigrant, Native American, gay, straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability. Everybody matters. I want them to grow up in a country that shows the world what we still know to be true: that we are still more than a collection of red states and blue states; that we are the United States of America."
"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 thing to do, but because ultimately they will make us safer."
"In fact, it’s that spirit that made the progress of these past seven years possible. It’s how we recovered from the worst economic crisis in generations. It’s how we reformed our health care system, and reinvented our energy sector; how we delivered more care and benefits to our troops and veterans, and how we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love."
"It won’t be easy. Our brand of democracy is hard. But I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen -- inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far. Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed."
"It’s the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught."
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