When President Barack Obama delivers his final State of the Union speech tomorrow night (Tuesday, June 12), the man whose name has become synonymous with marriage equality in the U.S. will be watching from the First Lady’s box seats.
Jim Obergefell was the lead plaintiff in the historic U.S. Supreme Court case that the court decided last June 26 in favor of equality. Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley — lead Senate sponsor of the Equality Act — invited Obergefell to attend the State of the Union address as his guest. And this morning (Monday, Jan. 15), the White House announced that Obergefel will sit in the First Lady’s box for the event.
The Equality Act is comprehensive LGBT non-discrimination legislation that would extend federal non-discriminaion protections to LGBT people in key areas, including employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, credit and education.
Merkley said his is “honored” to have Obergefell attend the State of Union address as his guest, adding that “Jim’s love and commitment to his husband and his pursuit of justice should serve as an inspiration to us all. Now, we must finish the work that we have started and ensure that LGBT Americans have full equality in all aspects of their lives.
“It’s incomprehensibly wrong that in many states, a couple could marry in the morning and legally be evicted from their apartment or kicked out of a restaurant in the afternoon,” Merkley continued. “No one knows better than Jim that we have come a long way, but as we have seen with the recent attack on marriage equality in Alabama, it’s more important than ever to keep pushing for full equality. I’m pleased to have Jim with me this week to highlight both the tremendous progress we’ve made and the important work that’s left to be done.”
The Equality Act is cosponsored by more than 200 members of Congress, and was recently endorsed by President Obama.