What happened (and didn't happen) during the State of the Union address
The State of the Union address that President Obama delivered last night was his second-to-last one ever, and in the course of it, he made some pretty major announcements. But there were also issues that he skipped over that many of his supporters were hoping he’d address. And then, there was that zinger. Here’s the run-down:
For the first time ever, transgender individuals were recognized in a State of the Union speech. The President advocated for equal protection for the LGBT community, and explicitly name-checked transgender individuals. “As Americans, we respect human dignity even when we’re threatened. . .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,” Obama said. It was a significant acknowledgment, long in coming.
The President stood up for the middle-class economy and for paid maternity leave. He called upon Congress and the American people to support his proposition on raising the minimum wage, required earned sick days, and paid maternity leave. “In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever,” Obama said. “It’s not a nice-to-have—it’s a must have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is.”
He rebuked Congress for failing to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. “Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time.”
He advocated for access to health care for women. “We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose,” Obama said, “but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.”
But he didn’t talk about sexual violence, a topic that many women were hoping to hear Obama take a stand against, particularly since Senator Kirsten Gillibrand invited campus rape activist and artist Emma Sulkowicz to be her guest.
And Obama didn’t explicitly mention abortion rights even through he did touch on reproductive healthcare. Some supporters were hoping for a stronger stance from the President on the issue.
But the most notable part of the address, according to the Internet, was when Obama rebuffed Republican hecklers. “I have no more campaigns to run,” Obama said, prompting a burst of sarcastic applause from Republicans. “I know because I won both of them,” he shot back. Zing! Cue memes. Oh, so many memes. According to Mashable, it was the most popular moment of the night on social media. Break the Internet, Barack Obama.
(Image via Reuters)