Speaker Tate, Detroit abortion rights activist to attend Biden’s State of the Union address
U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) announced on Monday that Detroit activist Shanay Watson-Whittaker will join as her guest to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address to Congress.
The speech will be Tuesday night.
“Shanay was an integral part in ensuring that abortion rights were enshrined into law in Michigan’s Constitution through her work with the Michigan Reproductive Freedom For All ballot initiative,” said Tlaib. “Michigan’s cruel and inhumane 1931 law banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest and criminalizing health care providers was defeated by the power of the people. Michiganders soundly rejected the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and refused to allow the far-right majority to take away their right to bodily autonomy. This victory would not have been possible without the activists and organizers on the ground, like Shanay, doing the work to protect our fundamental human rights.”
Watson-Whittaker is Michigan Voices’ director of strategic partnerships. In 2022, she was deputy campaign manager of the Michigan Reproductive Freedom For All campaign. She previously worked at the Detroit Health Department, Detroit City Council and the New York City Council.
“Reproductive care and freedom is essential for every person in this country. In Michigan, we did not wait for anyone to save us, not even elected officials,” said Watson-Whittaker. “I’m proud to bring the stories of the Michiganders who understood the assignment and guaranteed that millions of Michiganders have access to reproductive care. This fight is not over until this is the case for every corner of the United States and I’m honored to be bringing that message to the State of the Union.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) will be joined by state House Speaker Joe Tate (D-Detroit). Tate is the first African American to serve in the state post.
“People like Speaker Joe Tate exemplify the progress we have made and the work that House Democrats will continue to do to defend American values,” said Thanedar.
Other guests of Michigan members of Congress include: Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, who was invited by U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Midland); news anchor Andy Dominianni of WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo, who was invited by U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland); and Riley Gaines, a Kentucky college swimmer who campaigned last year with failed GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon against trans athletes competing in sports. Gaines will be the guest of U.S. Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Romeo).