By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com January 24 2012 4:20 PM ET
Two lesbians — one a military officer, another a plaintiff in a sex discrimination case — will be among first lady Michelle Obama’s guests at tonight’s State of the Union address.
Col. Ginger Wallace (pictured, right) is an Air Force intelligence officer who has served in the Iraq war and other operations. In December, when she was promoted to her current rank, her partner, Kathy Knopf, attended the ceremony and participated in the pinning of Wallace’s new rank on her uniform, becoming the first same-sex partner to be involved in such a ceremony, something made possible by the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” notes a White House press release. Wallace is scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan in the spring.
Lorelei Kilker (far left, with partner Sara Nelson) of Colorado had sued the Western Sugar Cooperative, alleging that it denied women training and promotions and barred them from certain jobs. She and other women involved in the class-action suit last year received a financial settlement that was negotiated between the company and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will monitor Western Sugar’s personnel practices, even though the company denies any wrongdoing. She was “shocked and honored” to be invited to the State of the Union, she told the Washington Blade.
The two women are among 21 guests who will join Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, and presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett in the first lady’s box for the speech, which begins at 9 p.m. The full list, which includes several military officers and entrepreneurs, is available here.