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SOTU Guest List Makes Statement On Gun Violence

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    FILE -- U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his 2012 State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill Jan. 24 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

    The guest list at President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night makes an obvious statement of its own.

    Some two dozen House Democrats invited victims of gun violence, and First Lady Michelle Obama invited Nathaniel Pendleton and Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was gunned down in Chicago less than a mile from Obama's Kenwood home. Dr. Jill Biden is bringing a Sandy Hook teacher from Newtown, Conn.

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    Cowley-Pendleton called the invitation bittersweet. She said she is honored to attend the speech even as she mourns her daughter and seeks justice.

    On the Republican side, some have invited members of the National Rifle Association who oppose Obama's plan on gun safety, and Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) asked rocker Ted Nugent to be his guest.

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    Other guests include Denise Reed, invited by Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). Reed is the mother of 14-year-old honor-roll student Starkesia Reed, killed by a stray bullet from an AK-47 near her home in Chicago.

    Duckworth's camp said in a statement that Reed was invited "as a way to further the debate on gun violence."

    “We cannot wait on the sidelines while children like Starkesia are needlessly taken away from their families," Duckworth said. "My colleagues and I must show the same determination and bravery as Mrs. Reed in demanding common sense reforms that will help protect our children.”

    Sen. Dick Durbin's guest is Sgt. First Class Pedro Ortiz-Roman from Chicago. Durbin has invited wounded Illinois service members to the address since 2005.

    Sen. Mark Kirk, back to work after suffering a stroke last January, also will be in attendance. His guest will be his physical therapist who has been with him every step of the way.