Tuesday, January 20, 2015

President breaks grounds on LGBT equality in SOTU speech; "Everybody matters"

On his State of the Union Message tonight, President Obama started out by saying “The shadow of crisis has passed”. The transcript is here

A lot of attention had been paid in advance to his plans for increase in capital gains tax rates for the wealthy.  The president told a story of a young couple in Minnesota, with kids, who had been hurt when the housing bubble burst – although that’s something anyone should have foreseen.  He then described how the family had worked its way back.
The president talked about the need for mandatory paid sick leave, including for child care, and mentioned paid maternity leave once.  He didn’t say paternity leave, but he then came out for equal pay by gender.  While European countries do reasonably well with paid family leave, those with fewer responsibilities must subsidize it.
The president expressed great confidence in “the rule of law” and that we could stop foreign enemies from invading the privacy, property, or security or ordinary Americans, an idea that has gotten more traction since the middle of last summer with ISIS.  He did not talk in any detail about the recent terror attacks and arrests in Europe.  But he did indicate he could ask for more authority to conduct operations against ISIS, even on the ground. 
But the president did mention all components of the LGBT community, maybe the first time ever in a State of the Union speech.  He said that national security actually depends on protecting every group of people that some people don’t like, which includes LGBT for some, and, ironically. Muslims on another hand.   His remark may have been motivated in some respects by a horrific specific atrocity earlier this week reported by the press in Britain and widely discussed in social media (especially among LGBT people in Europe). 
He also indicated that same-sex marriage (and implicitly, freedom from discrimination in other areas) was now a civil right.  70% of Americans live in states that now have to recognize same-sex marriage.
The warned that climate change is the greatest long term danger we face.
He also closed by saying that “everybody matters” (not in the original transcript), after saying “we are our brother’s keepers, our sister’s keepers” and then seemed to imply that this fact provides some deeper personal obligations on everyone, to include others.
The Republican Response was by Joni Ernst, senator from Iowa.  She mentioned “Red Oak”, a place in the Star Reporter board game of the 1950s.  It was pretty high level and not confrontational.  She hinted at bipartisan agreement on tax reform. Fix the Debt offers this immediate reaction, here

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