President Obama has backed a petition, named after Leelah Alcorn, to ban conversion therapy for LGBT youth. The petition, named after the 17-year-old transgender teen who committed suicide after visiting Christian conversion therapists at the request of her parents, has gained more than 120,000 signatures. Obama Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett wrote, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.” The White House has said that it does not plan on seeking a federal ban on conversion or “reparative” therapy, but, according to The New York Times, the President will “throw his support behind the efforts to ban the practice at the state level” ... Discuss

This weekend, President Obama released a special video message for Passover and Easter. Along with discussing a Passover Seder he and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted at the White House on Friday night, the president said,

Sunday is Easter: The day of prayer and salvation; of renewal and ultimate redemption. Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I will spend the day reflecting on the sacrifice of God's only son, who endured agony on the cross so that we could live together with him. And along with our fellow churchgoers and Christians, inspired by the miracle of His resurrection, we will challenge ourselves to be better. To love more deeply, and to serve the least of these as an expression of Christ’s love here on earth.

The president also emphasized the importance of people of all beliefs and worldviews to working together to create a “brighter future" ... Discuss

No matter what you think about the politics of a sitting president, he still holds an office that should probably warrant some respect. Especially when he’s delivering the State of the Union Address. After all, there are some long-standing etiquette traditions to these things. For example, if you’re in attendance, and don’t like a statement made by the Commander and Chief, you have the option to sit quietly while everyone else stands to applaud. It’s a subtle, dignified way to get your point across—something exercised in reportedly unusually high numbers on Tuesday. What you don’t do is attempt an inappropriate outburst, or you just might be on the receiving end of a sick burn from POTUS himself.

That’s exactly what happened last night. After President Obama delivered the line, “That’s how we move this country forward. That’s what the American people want. That’s what they deserve. I have no more campaigns to run,” a group in the audience sarcastically started cheering. The President smirked and replied “I know because I won both of them.” We should all be able to put our politics aside long enough to acknowledge a world class zinger when we hear one ... Discuss

Last night, President Obama appeared on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report, not only sitting down for an interview with the satirical conservative persona, but also taking over hosting duties for Colbert’s “The Word” commentary segment. Though his “Word” sound-off was primarily focused on his health care reform legislation, during their frequently fascinating Q&A, Colbert took the president to task on a variety of issues—of course, with his signature tongue-in-cheek faux outrage.

He asked zingers, for example: referencing Obama's controversial executive action on immigration reform, “Why did you burn the Constitution and become an emperor?" Discussing the President’s hesitancy to support the Keystone XL pipeline—a move the audience made their views quite clear about—Colbert said “The American people want it. It's going to create jobs. The State Department says it's not going to raise the pollution in the atmosphere. You're going to sign that, right?" Colbert even referred to the President as “Barackus Maximus” at one point. No matter what you think about his politics, it’s hard to deny that President Obama’s sense of humor—and his ability to be a good sport in the face of some criticism—made for some pretty entertaining television ... Discuss

According to reports, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the only Republican on President Obama’s national security team, is being pressured to step down from the position. The announcement of his formal resignation is expected to be made later today. From The New York Times:

The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ.

The New York Times notes that the move is meant to show that administration officials are listening to criticics about their “stumbles” in “early response to several national security issues, including the Ebola crisis and the threat posed by the Islamic State.” Though Hagel and the President were both against war in Iraq, the two haven’t always seen eye-to-eye: During the early fight against ISIS, Hagel emphasized how dangerous the Islamic State is, just months after the President called them a J.V. squad. At this point, it’s not clear who will replace Hagel in the position ... Discuss

As expected, last night President Obama unveiled his new immigration reform plan that would effectively defer deportation for 5 million undocumented immigrants. Under his new plan, parents of legal U.S. citizens or green card holders would be allowed to continue to live and work in the United States without the threat of deportation for three years. The plan also broadens the requirements necessary for undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children, essentially granting legal status to hundreds of thousands more.

In his speech last night, he explained, “Mass amnesty would be unfair. Mass deportation would be both impossible and contrary to our character. What I'm describing is accountability — a common-sense, middle-ground approach.” Many Republicans criticized Obama’s executive action, saying that he circumvented Congress, with some threatening to attempt to withhold funding. Rep. Bob Goodlatte told USA Today that the move “threatens to unravel our government's system of checks and balances and imperils individual liberty" ... Discuss