Though it’s not quite as star-studded an affair as the White House Correpondents’ dinner, the annual State of the Union address lets each member of Congress, smattering of Americana that it is, invite a single guest. And certain parties, like the White House and Speaker of the House, can invite even more.
The people who come range from everyday citizens who embody a politician’s cause, to military or civilian heroes, to celebrity political stunts—recall two years ago, when Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson attended?
2016 is no different. There will surely be some surprises, but here’s the list of interesting guests we’ve confirmed so far.
Guest of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio): Quite controversially, Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk jailed last year for repeatedly denying to issue gay couples their marriage licenses.
Guests of Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.): two officials from CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Sameena Usman and Nezar Hamze. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, who has called for an investigation into CAIR, called Usman and Hamze “un-American.”
Guest of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): former coal miner Howard Abshire.
Guest of First Lady Michelle Obama: Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who reformed the state’s gun safety laws after the Sandy Hook shooting; Ryan Reyes, whose partner Daniel Kaufman saved four people at the San Bernardino shooting before being killed by the terrorists; Jim Obergefell, a plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court gay marriage ruling that forbade states from criminalizing gay couples from marrying; and Major Lisa Jaster, the first female Army Reserve soldier to graduate from Ranger School. There will also be an empty seat in the First Lady’s Guest Box for victims of gun violence.
Guest of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.): Neuropathegist Dr. Bennet Omalu, who pioneered the study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in NFL players, and who’s depicted in the Will Smith movie Concussion.
Guests of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.): Sisters Loraine Marie Maguire and Sister Constance Veit, two nuns with Little Sisters of the Poor and who are staunchly opposed to Obamacare.
Illustration via Max Fleishman