Two gay activists, Jim Obergefell and Ryan Reyes, will be guests in First Lady Michelle Obama’s box at the final State of the Union address to congress tomorrow, Jan. 12.
The White House press release lists 23 guests, as well as a vacant seat for the victims of gun violence.
Reyes’ partner, Larry “Daniel” Kaufman, was one of 14 victims of the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. Kaufman is credited with saving the lives of four individuals when he warned them, urging them to safety, before being shot and killed. Since Kaufman’s death, Reyes has been vocal about the need for tolerance and against radicalism.
“I speak for both Daniel and myself when I say that this attack should NOT encourage people to treat Muslims any differently than they would anyone else,” he wrote to media in the aftermath of the attack. “The twisted actions and beliefs of a few should not be used to view the majority.”
Jim Obergefell was the named plaintiff in the marriage equality case Obergefell v. Hodges, granting same-sex couples nationwide the right to marry. In 2013, Obergefell married his partner of 20 years. The marriage was performed in Maryland and not recognized in their home state of Ohio, setting off a legal battle that eventually made its way to the Supreme Court. Obergefell says he considers himself an accidental activist, who is now committed to the equality of all Americans.
President Obama is delivering the 2016 State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 12. Watch it live at 9 p.m. ET at WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU.