In State of the Union Response, Rep. Joe Kennedy III Expresses Strong Support for Transgender Americans

By Adam Polaski • January 30, 2018 • 11:02 pm

Tonight, January 30, United States Congressman Joe Kennedy III, a Democrat from Massachusetts, delivered the Response to President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address.

In his speech, Rep. Kennedy expressed strong support for LGBTQ Americans. In his speech, he explained that fair-minded Americans can support many things at once, including dignity and equal treatment for LGBTQ people.

He said, “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. Here is the answer Democrats offer tonight: we choose both. We fight for both. Because the greatest, strongest, richest nation in the world shouldn’t leave anyone behind.”

Earlier in the speech, Rep. Kennedy explained that no one should face discrimination for any reason, including “the gender of your spouse.”

Rep. Kennedy’s special guest for the State of the Union tonight was Staff Sgt. Patricia King, who is a transgender woman coming on the end of her 20-year military career.

Kennedy has stated he is bringing Sgt. King to remind the President of transgender troops’ devotion to military service. “I want her to be there as a real person, and the face of an inhumane policy,” Kennedy said. Later in the evening, Kennedy will also deliver the Democratic response to the President’s speech.

Congressman Kennedy has been a vocal supporter of transgender equality in recent years, including testifying in favor of a law prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and expression in places of public accommodation in Massachusetts, his home state. He also filmed and published a video in support of transgender dignity as part of the #EveryoneWelcome campaign, coordinated by a coalition that included Freedom for All Americans.

Sgt. King has served in the Army for almost 19 years, and has stated she realized she was transgender while serving. “Every one of us who raises our right hand is prepared to give everything in the defense of our country,” King said.

President Trump made no mention of LGBTQ people in his State of the Union speech. His mention of “religious liberty” echoed his continued efforts in the past year to allow religion to be used to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people.

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