Some Feminist Issues Addressed in State of the Union Address
President Barack Obama mentioned several feminist issues in his second State of the Union address last night. The speech focused largely on the economy, creating jobs, and financial reform. Obama also addressed the stalled healthcare reform bill and said, "Now let's be clear - I did not choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics."
In regards to feminist issues, Obama specifically referenced US support of "the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan [and] the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran." Later in his speech, he promised "to crack down on violations of equal pay laws -- so that women get equal pay for an equal day's work" and called attention to the fact that his administration's civil rights division "is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination."
Obama's most bold feminist proclamation was a promise to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," in which he said, "this year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are." The policy was instituted by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 and prohibits the military from inquiring about a service member's sexual orientation, but also calls for the discharge of anyone who acknowledges being lesbian or gay. Thus far, the policy has led to the expulsion of about 13,000 troops.
Media Resources: Associated Press State of the Union Address Transcript 1/27/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 11/11/09