lgbt_012-15gettyPresident Obama recognized transgender people in his State of the Union address, drawing praise from LGBT rights advocates who said it was the first time the term had ever been used in the high-profile speech. “We’ve gotten used to hearing re:gays, but I think that’s the 1st time the President has ever said the word transgender in a #SOTU. #progress,” tweeted Lanae Erickson, of Third Way Perspectives, a centrist Washington-based think tank.  Obama made the mention of transgender people in a section of the speech about human rights. “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,” he said. “We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.”

The president went on to call gay marriage a civil right. “I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in 10 Americans call home,” he said. “So I know the good, and optimistic, and big-hearted generosity of the American people who, every day, live the idea that we are our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s keeper. And I know they expect those of us who serve here to set a better example.”

“A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears,” he said. Obama’s reference Tuesday night comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision Friday to take up the issue of gay marriage. The decision, expected to come by June, could include declaring a nationwide constitutional right to same-sex marriage. More