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Kim Davis, empty chair among expected guests at State of the Union address

By
Amy R. Connolly
U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address Tuesday. Gay marriage opponent Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who has repeatedly defied court orders by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, will be in the audience. Pool Photo by Aude Guerrucci/UPI
U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address Tuesday. Gay marriage opponent Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who has repeatedly defied court orders by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, will be in the audience. Pool Photo by Aude Guerrucci/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk jailed for defying orders to issue same-sex marriage licenses, will be among the many guests attending President Barack Obama's final State of the Union address Tuesday.

Davis will be in the audience along with Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case that led to legalizing gay marriage. Davis, with her attorney Mat Staver, will be in the House audience as arranged by the Family Research Council. Obergefell will be seated in first lady Michelle Obama's box along with other notables who include U.S. Army Major Lisa Jaster, the first female Army Reserve officer to graduate from the Ranger School; Refaai Hamo, a Syrian refugee now living in Troy, Mich.; and Seattle police Chief Kathleen O'Toole.

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"For the president's final State of the Union address, the individuals who will be seated in the guest box of first lady Michelle Obama represent the progress we have made since the president first delivered this speech seven years ago -- from the brink of a second Great Depression and two costly wars to an economy that is growing and renewed American leadership abroad," the White House said. "The guests personify President Obama's time in office and most importantly, they represent who we are as Americans: inclusive and compassionate, innovative and courageous."

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Obama will also leave a seat open in the first lady's guest box "for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice -- because they need the rest of us to speak for them."

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The tradition of hosting guests in the first lady's guest box began in 1982 with President Ronald Reagan.

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