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Obama's State of the Union Zinger: Let's Just Hear It Again - VIDEO

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He has no more elections left to run. How does he know?

Watch and find out, AFTER THE JUMP...

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President Obama Celebrates The Advance of Same-Sex Marriage As 'A Story of Freedom' in State of the Union Address: VIDEO

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In his sixth state of the union address Tuesday, President Obama sounded a victorious note, declaring “the shadow of crisis has passed," referring chiefly to economic challenges that have been center-stage since he was elected to the Presidency in 2008. The President also proclaimed gay marriage to be a civil right, celebrating the sea change in how Americans by and large perceive same-sex marriage:

"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 ten Americans call home." 

Speaking of the moral and security imperative at heart in respecting human dignity, the President mentioned the words "lesbian," "bisexual," and "transgender" in his speech, marking the first time those words have been used in a state of the union address:

"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. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer."

The President also urged Americans to view difference as a source of strength that should be embraced rather than feared:

"I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen – man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability."

In case you missed the speech, watch it for yourself AFTER THE JUMP...

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LIVESTREAM: President Obama's 2015 'State of the Union' Address

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Tonight, President Obama will address a joint session of Congress and deliver his sixth State of the Union address. The address is set to begin at 9 PM ET.

The President has been urged to address LGBT issues in tonight's address by key advocates, particularly the question of non-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans as The Washington Blade notes.

Andy also reported earlier that Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has invited a gay couple from Florida who were the second same-sex couple to wed in the Sunshine State after its ban on gay marriage came down earlier this month. Be sure to watch for them in the chamber.

Watch the livestream of the President fulfilling his duties under Article II of the Constitution, AFTER THE JUMP...

Do you think President Obama will address protections against discrimination for LGBT Americans? If so, will the President (and any proposed legislation) receive applause from both sides of the aisle? Or will Congress continue to make us sick? Watch tonight to find out.

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Gay Couple, Second to Marry in Florida, to Attend Tonight's State of the Union Address

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Newlyweds Todd and Jeff Delmay, who were the second couple to marry in Florida earier this month after Judge Sarah Zabel lifted the stay on her same-sex marriage ruling, will attend tonight's State of the Union address as guests of Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Equality Florida reports.

The Delmays (above, with son Blake), who live in Hollywood, were one of six same-sex couples in the case which successfully challenged the state's gay marriage ban. They have been together for 14 years.

Said Wasserman Schulz: “It is my distinct honor to invite my constituents Todd and Jeff to join me for the President’s State of the Union address at the Capitol...Their bold efforts, along with Equality Florida and the other plaintiff couples, helped turn the page on the legal discrimination of the past and start a new chapter in Florida’s history. I’m looking forward to celebrating their marriage, and highlighting the ongoing effort to achieve equality for all, next week in Washington.”


New Cuban Travel and Trade Rules to Take Effect Friday

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Many of the broad range of changes to the U.S. Government's policies toward Cuba which President Obama announced in mid-December are going to take effect tomorrow, the administration announced today.

Reuters reports:

The United States eased decades of trade and financial restrictions on Cuba, opening up the country to U.S. telecommunications, construction and financial services in a slew of changes announced by the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Treasury.

The new rules, effective on Friday, are the first concrete step to implement U.S. President Barack Obama's move last month to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba and ease the long economic embargo on America's Cold War enemy after more than 50 years.

The AP adds:

The measures include permission for Americans to use credit cards in Cuba and U.S. companies to export some technologies. Americans authorized to visit Cuba need no longer apply for special licenses.

Americans can also bring home up to $100 in alcohol and tobacco from Cuba, meaning the ban on Cuban cigars is officially over.

Only Congress can lift the full embargo which has been in place for more than 50 years.


Thousands Break Into John Lennon's 'Imagine' At Paris Unity Rally: WATCH

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At a unity rally in Paris held to show national solidarity in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in France, thousands burst into singing John Lennon's "Imagine", Mashable reports:

[Redditor] ilHGG, who claims to live near the location of the march, wrote on Reddit that he or she played music, "especially peace songs," from his or her window, so passersby participating in the march could hear.

The poster of the video on YouTube commented,

"As no one could advance, my neighbor opened her windows and started to play classic tunes, to the delight of the audience. A great moment."

The rally in Paris combine with those held across France drew crowds of 3.7 million people, according to CNN.

Meanwhile, President Obama came under criticism for not attending the rally which saw a broad swath of world leaders in attendance including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. As The Washington Post reports, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest commented, “I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone with a higher profile." The U.S. was represented at the rally by Ambassador to France Jane Hartley. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) said of the President's absence, 

“I understand that when the president travels, he brings with him a security and communications package which is intense. And I understand you drop that into the middle of something like this, it could be disruptive,” Rubio said. “There’s a plethora of people they could have sent. I think in hindsight I hope that they would have done it differently.”

For his part, Secretary of State John Kerry called the hullabaloo surrounding the President's absence, "quibbling a little bit." 

In Paris, however, President Obama's absence was hardly felt, with many dubious of the presence of foreign leaders to begin with:

“I consider these heads of state to be taking part in my march,” said Thierry, a 56-year-old painter, who declined to give his last name because of fears of terrorism. “I’m not taking part in theirs.”

Watch the video of the attendees singing "Imagine", AFTER THE JUMP...

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