First lady to be joined by auto exec, gay NBA player, bombing survivors

WASHINGTON (AP) — The guests who will be joining Michelle Obama tonight to watch the president deliver his State of the Union address will include the first woman to lead a major automaker, an Illinois woman whose emergency unemployment benefits have run out, and an openly gay former NBA player.

It's become tradition for the first lady's guests to include those whose personal stories can help highlight a particular policy or issue.

Tonight, the first lady will be joined by Mary Barra, who became GM's CEO this month. The company benefited from a federal bailout of the auto industry. Another guest is Misty DeMars of Illinois. The White House says she lost her job because of budget cuts a week after buying a home with her husband in May of last year. She wrote to Obama after her emergency unemployment benefits expired.

Jason Collins last year became the first active male athlete on a major American sports team to come out as openly gay. He played for 12 years in the NBA. Obama has said his announcement marked progress for the gay community.

Also seated with the first lady will be two survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing. There will also be an Army Ranger who has met multiple times with the president. And the guests will include a man who was brought to the U.S. illegally as a child.

Also invited is the Atlanta woman who is credited with preventing a shooting at an elementary school by talking the gunman into surrendering.

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173-c-21-(Mark Smith, AP White House correspondent)-"openly gay player"-AP White House Correspondent Mark Smith reports the White House is filling up the first lady's box with guests to highlight Obama's priorities. (28 Jan 2014)

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027-v-34-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent)--The first lady isn't the only one whose guests have been invited to tonight's speech to send a message. AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports. (28 Jan 2014)

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APPHOTO WX201: FILE - In this Jan 23, 2014 photo, General Motors CEO Mary Barra addresses the media during a roundtable meeting with journalists in Detroit. Barra will join first lady Michelle Obama to watch President Barack Obama deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) (23 Jan 2014)

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