Democrats are taking varied positions when it comes to President Trump’s upcoming State of the Union address in front of both houses of Congress.
Some have decided to simply boycott the address, not wanting to even be in the same room as the President as he outlines his vision for America that violates everything that they believe in and stand for. (Vomiting publicly is not a good look for legislators, so it’s an understandable position to take.)
Others have decided to sit through the ordeal but use their ability to invite special guests to witness the State of the Union from the visitors’ gallery to make a political statement.
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Several Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), will be bringing members of the “Dreamers,” the people brought to the U.S. without proper immigration papers by their parents when they were young.
Other Democratic legislators have invited sexual assault victims and their advocates to the speech, a ballsy move in a Congress recently riven with harassment scandals of its own.
Now, the Boston Globe is reporting another politically-minded invitation, this one from the man who was chosen by Democratic leadership to give the rebuttal to Trump’s State of the Union speech, Representative Joseph Kennedy III (D-MA)
Kennedy has decided to protest the administration’s attempt to ban transgender people from the military by inviting a transgender soldier, Staff Sgt. Patricia King, to the address.
While Trump’s ban on transgender citizens serving in the military has been suspended by the courts, the issue still hangs over the heads of active transgender military personnel whose futures remain uncertain in the face of the efforts to expel them from the services.
“I have served for almost 19 years,” King told the Globe. “And all of a sudden, it is all hanging in the balance.”
Staff Sgt. King realized her transgender status while she was already serving in the military as a male soldier and was actually the first service member to have her gender reassignment surgery paid for by the military.
“There are much easier ways to get surgery covered than enlisting in the military, [facing] the possibility of deployment, and dealing with the stigma of being a transgender service member,” she said. “Every one of us who raises our right hand is prepared to give everything in the defense of our country.”
Kennedy explained his decision to invite Sgt. King as a way to remind Trump of the dedication that transgender service members have to their country.
“I want her to be there as a real person, and the face of an inhumane policy,” Kennedy said.
Trump will deliver his State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening with Representative Kennedy’s Democratic rebuttal immediately following.