June 1, 2009
White House Pride proclamation is a worthy gesture but lacks specifics on issues
Note: update appended below
The White House today issued a statement by President Obama in honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. Although it's an official "proclamation" and was issued as a White House news release (and various news outlets and blogs are reporting on it, including the San Francisco Chronicle and USA Today), it does not appear (so far) anywhere on the White House web site. (Keep checking the "statements and releases" page.) For now, you can read the entire proclamation here.
Obama notes that he is the "first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration — in both the White House and the Federal agencies — openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism."
The proclamation says the president "continue[s] to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans." But it is silent on any specific actions or leadership the administration plans to take to give effect to its support.
For example, although the statement repeats a longstanding Obama campaign and White House position that there should be "Federal rights for LGBT couples," it remains unclear what exactly this means, how it can be accomplished without repealing DOMA, who exactly would receive federal rights (couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships as well as marriages?), and most importantly, what if anything is being done in the administration to move this forward.
The statement also says Obama supports "ending the existing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy," but adds a qualifier -- that it should be done "in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security." It's also unclear what this means.
In short, it's commendable that Obama would issue such a proclamation -- it's certainly not something that was done by his predecessor -- but the statement reads like the usual press-release boilerplate, and it fails to go beyond platitudes.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued her own Pride Month statement.
Update: as of 8:50 p.m. EDT, this release still does not appear on the White House web site, which seems odd for this wired and tech-savvy administration. Brian Bond, a White House liaison to the gay community, has not yet responded to an email I sent asking for an official link.
Update, Part 2: The text of the proclamation can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing_room/PresidentialActions/ (scroll down to "Proclamations"). The direct link is http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Presidential-Proclamation-LGBT-Pride-Month/. The proclamation is not highlighted on the main "Briefing Room" page of the White House web site, even though another proclamation issued yesterday -- on "Great Outdoors Month" -- is highlighted.
June 1, 2009 | Permalink
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