Obama Issues Pride Proclamation for 2011 -- With No Mention of Relationship Recognition

Posted by Chris Geidner
May 31, 2011 6:49 PM |

The White House today released President Barack Obama's proclamation commemorating the 2011 Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, presenting his own pride in signing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act in 2010 but -- for the first time in his presidency -- containing no reference to relationship recognition.

obama-DADT.jpgThe two-page proclamation begins:

The story of America's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community is the story of our fathers and sons, our mothers and daughters, and our friends and neighbors who continue the task of making our country a more perfect Union. It is a story about the struggle to realize the great American promise that all people can live with dignity and fairness under the law. Each June, we commemorate the courageous individuals who have fought to achieve this promise for LGBT Americans, and we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Obama goes on to point out administration accomplishments on LGBT matters, beginning with his signing of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act in December 2010, noting federal housing program and hospital visitation nondiscrimination measures, international efforts to fight homophobia and enforcement of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, among others.

The proclamation also addresses "the 30th anniversary of the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has had a profound impact on the LGBT community," noting that in 2010, the White House "announced the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States."

The substantive portion concludes:

Every generation of Americans has brought our Nation closer to fulfilling its promise of equality. While progress has taken time, our achievements in advancing the rights of LGBT Americans remind us that history is on our side, and that the American people will never stop striving toward liberty and justice for all.

There is no mention of relationship recognition, despite the fact that on Feb. 23, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the president had determined that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The Department of Justice subsequently ended its defense of that portion of the law in ongoing court challenges.

By comparison, in the 2010 proclamation, Obama stated, "That is why we must give committed gay couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act."

In the 2009 proclamation, meanwhile, Obama stated, "Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include ... supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples ...."

Download the 2011 proclamation -- 2011lgbt.prc.rel.pdf -- or read it below the jump.

UPDATE @ 12:45 PM WEDNESDAY: Servicemembers Legal Defense Network executive director Aubrey Sarvis says in a statement:

"At SLDN, we commend the President for his recognition of June as LGBT Pride Month, and we join him in promoting equality for all Americans, including our nation's service members. Unfortunately, it's difficult to explain – much less defend – that we are approaching six months since the President signed repeal legislation, and gay and lesbian service members are still without certification, still being investigated under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and still at risk of being discharged. Meanwhile, our opponents continue their attempts to exploit this vacuum as an opportunity to delay and derail repeal, and service members are required to serve in silence. Mr. President, let's get certification done this month."

* * *

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release    May 31, 2011

LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2011

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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

The story of America's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community is the story of our fathers and sons, our mothers and daughters, and our friends and neighbors who continue the task of making our country a more perfect Union. It is a story about the struggle to realize the great American promise that all people can live with dignity and fairness under the law. Each June, we commemorate the courageous individuals who have fought to achieve this promise for LGBT Americans, and we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Since taking office, my Administration has made significant progress towards achieving equality for LGBT Americans. Last December, I was proud to sign the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. With this repeal, gay and lesbian Americans will be able to serve openly in our Armed Forces for the first time in our Nation's history. Our national security will be strengthened and the heroic contributions these Americans make to our military, and have made throughout our history, will be fully recognized.

My Administration has also taken steps to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans in Federal housing programs and to give LGBT Americans the right to visit their loved ones in the hospital. We have made clear through executive branch nondiscrimination policies that discrimination on the basis of gender identity in the Federal workplace will not be tolerated. I have continued to nominate and appoint highly qualified, openly LGBT individuals to executive branch and judicial positions. Because we recognize that LGBT rights are human rights, my Administration stands with advocates of equality around the world in leading the fight against pernicious laws targeting LGBT persons and malicious attempts to exclude LGBT organizations from full participation in the international system. We led a global campaign to ensure "sexual orientation" was included in the United Nations resolution on extrajudicial execution -- the only United Nations resolution that specifically mentions LGBT people -- to send the unequivocal message that no matter where it occurs, state-sanctioned killing of gays and lesbians is indefensible. No one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love, and my Administration has mobilized unprecedented public commitments from countries around the world to join in the fight against hate and homophobia.

At home, we are working to address and eliminate violence against LGBT individuals through our enforcement and implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. We are also working to reduce the threat of bullying against young people, including LGBT youth. My Administration is actively engaged with educators and community leaders across America to reduce violence and discrimination in schools. To help dispel the myth that bullying is a harmless or inevitable part of growing up, the First Lady and I hosted the first White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in March. Many senior Administration officials have also joined me in reaching out to LGBT youth who have been bullied by recording "It Gets Better" video messages to assure them they are not alone.

This month also marks the 30th anniversary of the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has had a profound impact on the LGBT community. Though we have made strides in combating this devastating disease, more work remains to be done, and I am committed to expanding access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Last year, I announced the first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States. This strategy focuses on combinations of evidence-based approaches to decrease new HIV infections in high risk communities, improve care for people living with HIV/AIDS, and reduce health disparities. My Administration also increased domestic HIV/AIDS funding to support the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and HIV prevention, and to invest in HIV/AIDS-related research. However, government cannot take on this disease alone. This landmark anniversary is an opportunity for the LGBT community and allies to recommit to raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and continuing the fight against this deadly pandemic.

Every generation of Americans has brought our Nation closer to fulfilling its promise of equality. While progress has taken time, our achievements in advancing the rights of LGBT Americans remind us that history is on our side, and that the American people will never stop striving toward liberty and justice for all.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2011 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

BARACK OBAMA

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