While President Barack Obama's State of the Union guests have garnered most of the attention, Republicans have invited a couple of notable guests: Kim Davis and two members of the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Davis was invited by the Family Research Council, and will attend the State of the Union along with her attorney, Mat Staver. Davis drew the ire of the left for refusing to hand out marriage licenses to gay couples as a clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, since it conflicted with her religious beliefs. She was jailed for five nights as a result.
The Little Sisters of the Poor, invited by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, are suing the Obama administration because Obamacare's mandate for group insurance plans to offer free contraception. The Little Sisters of the Poor consists of Catholic nuns, so the contraception mandate violates their religious conscience. There is a "conscience clause" under Obamacare, but there is a "workaround" that would force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide free contraception to females.
"The Little Sisters of the Poor care for the most vulnerable among us, and they should be free to practice their faith without the threat of government interference or intimidation," Ryan said in a statement. "The Sisters’ stand in defense of religious liberty – one of our most fundamental rights – is nothing short of courageous, and it’s my privilege to support their cause."
Ryan has also invited a four-year-old who helped donate over $1,300 to provide military care packages overseas. There are others as well:
They include, according to a list furnished by Ryan’s office, the Rev. Melvin Hargrove, president of Racine Unified School District and the founder of Zoe Outreach Ministries; Bishop Shirley Holloway, founder of House of Help City of Hope in Washington; Pastor Omar Jahwar, founder of Vision Regeneration, a gang intervention group in Dallas; Antong Lucky, founder of We Make Real Music, another Dallas-based gang intervention group; and Joanna Wynn, founder of Walkin’ In My Shoes of Kenosha, Wis. Ryan’s office helped Wynn secure federal disability benefits more than a decade ago and now leads an organization “dedicated to helping young people break the cycle of poverty.”
Also attending at Ryan’s invitation is Robert Woodson, founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, a MacArthur “genius” grant winner who has long been celebrated by conservative thinkers for his advocacy for community-based solutions to poverty.
According to NBC News, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) is bringing Conner MacFarlane as a guest, a college student whose father died serving in Afghanistan. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is bringing a Pennsylvania state trooper whose barracks were ambushed. Michigan head coach and former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh will be attending as well, after being invited by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mi.) and Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mi.)