Monday, June 01, 2009

Happy Gay Pride Month from ...

What a great way to kick off Pride Month -- with this Presidential Proclamation just out as a White House press release!

Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.

LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country's response to the HIV pandemic.

Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be 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 LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans.

These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.

These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.

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

BARACK OBAMA

15 comments:

IT said...

Whoopdeedoo.... Talk is cheap.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

He's not where I want him on marriage but he's been proactive on Hate Crimes, moving forward on Don't Ask, Don't Tell and supporting an inclusive ENDA.

We can work with this. And my innner pragmatist sayd we're going to get him where we want him to go by meeting him where he is!

Fr Craig said...

zowie! never thought I'd see that from a President! Pray for his continued safety...

john said...

They've nominally supported hate crimes legislation and ENDA. They're sending out mixed signals on DADT. Right now, he's to the RIGHT of McCain's former campaign manager, Ted Olson, and Dick Cheney on gay marriage.

I realize it's early in his term, but that's no better than a C so far. I'm gratified about his statement, but talk IS cheap.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Sorry, John.

I was on Capitol Hill last month and the support for Hate Crimes is far from nominal ... the commitment to an inclusive ENDA seeing the light of day this term is explicit rather than implicit ... and he is NOT where we want him on marriage but you don't move allies forward by not working with them where they are in order to push them forward.

I'm giving a B+ ... good with room for improvement.

Just Me said...

Pardon my stupidity, but I really don't understand the whole "hate" crimes issue.

It appears to imply that if a black man is murdered by another black man then the current justice applies. However, if a black man is killed by a white man; well then the victim's family gets a whole different level of justice while the murderer receives a harsher punishment.

A couple of years ago a group of local (white) boys beat another boy to death over an X-box. All the boys got was a slap on the wrist; under the "proposed" hate crime laws, would the victim's life have had more value if one of the boys beating him called him a "fag"?

Is that where we're at in this country? A place where the value of a human being is gauged by why you died? Where "justice" only applies to certain people at certain times and under certain circumstances?

What if a black man and a gay white man get into a fight, the slurs are flying back and forth and they both end up shooting each other; which family would get "justice"? Which life would be considered to be more valued than the other? Or does the court just call a "tie" and send them both home?

I'm sorry, but it seems to me that the more laws each group of people gets written on paper serves only to trigger more groups to write counter laws... and so on and so on.

I think this is why the "silent majority" is so silent; we're all just kinda shell-shocked from the escalating war between the "left" and the "right".

Honestly, neither side makes any sense to me anymore.

Necktie Knot said...

I want to echo the 'talk is cheap' comments. You can give him the benefit of the doubt all you want but what have we gotten from him so far? Two jokes - one at the White House correspondents' dinner and the other last week in LA where he waded through a crowd of Prop 8 protestors and then arrogantly said he didn't know which promises he was supposed to keep.

He lost me with the Rick Warren invitation. It's going to be another eight years of platitudes covering inaction. The most we can hope for is that he won't be a repeat of the Clintons - they gave us DADT and DoMA.

IT said...

Susan, he hasn't moved at all on DADT. The whitehouse website dropped a lot of gay rights issues until they were shamed into putting them back up. Additionally, Clinton was the first to appoint an openly gay person, not Obama, so the proclamation really isn't true, and says nothing but platitudes. Thus, talk is cheap.

As for the jokes, though to be fair, the LA joke was taken out of context. If you watch the tape, it's pretty clear he wasn't sure which of the competing protests yelled "keep your promise". On the news videos I saw, the ladies in Pink and something about Armenian genocide seemed louder. I'll give him that. The one at the COrrespondent's dinner was a cheap shot, that I'll agree with.

Overall, I'll give him a C+.

john said...

Just Me, you need to look at it this way. If you live on the upper floor of a building, have a potted geranium on your window sill and accidentally knock it off while you're cleaning and it hits someone on the sidewalk below and kills them, that's a completely different offense than if you deliberately took a gun, picked someone out, went downstairs, and shot him. There's a marked difference even though the outcomes are identical.

john said...

Susan, talk to me about hate crimes and ENDA after they've been signed into law.

Neil Houghton said...

Regarding HATE CRIMES, here's the difference: A crime is committed against a person. A "hate crime" is committed against a class of people. The crime is not just committed against the individual but against the person BECAUSE they are a member of a group.

It's a big distinction. It was the lynching of people because they were black... it is the genocide committed against people because they were Jews, or Romanis,or gay and lesbian people.

Regarding the proclamation: Amen, Susan. We have to to keep his feet to the fire on DADT, Marriage, etc... but we have an unprecedented statement that our opponents will not hesitate to use against him. It's a huge step from where we were a year ago.

Just Me said...

Actually John, with all due respect, the scenario you offered doesn't represent the proposed hate crimes law.

2 men are walking down the stret, minding their own business. One is dressed up in a suit and the other is dressed in jeans and gay pride t-shirt.

Another man spots the guy in the suit and decides he could use some entertainment; he diliberately picks up a gun, goes downstairs and tells the guy to hand over his wallet. The suit guy hands over his wallet and the assailant shoots him in the head anyway. He's caught and is sentenced to 5 years.

The guy in the t-shirt is spotted by a man in a different balcony. The guy in the balcony doesn't like gays; he deliberately gets his gun, goes downstairs, throws some insults around and ends up shooting the t-shirt guy in the head. He's caught and is sentenced to 25 years.

That's the proposed hate crimes law.

Now, I don't know; perhaps it's my stupidity coming into play again, but I don't understand why sentences are determined by motivation. Does motivation really matter? Does the "why" behind violence make a mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter or friend grieve the loss differently?

I've lost a lot of people in my life. I've lost a "sister" who was killed by a drunk driver. I lost a cousin who purposely drove his car into the back of a semi. I lost an uncle who was a womanizing man-whore. I lsot a cousin whose gay lifestyle limited his dating only enough to die of AIDS. And here's the thing; I grieved every loss. Every one of their deaths seemed just as senseless as the others. Why?

Because they weren't pawns in an agenda game of chess. They weren't labels on a group of cans. They were people; human beings with value. People who were loved. People who are missed. All the "why's" and motivation theories doesn't change a damn thing.

That's my 2 cents on the hate crimes thing; I won't participate any more as it upsets me dearly.

God's peace.

IT said...

Hate crimes legislation exists when the purpose of the crime is not just against an individual but to intimidate an entire class of people. It's particularly important because it gives federal resources and influence in a jurisdictiion that might be unsympathetic to the vicitim. In the days of lynching, those who did the crime often got away with it despite being known, because the police or other authorities suffered the same bias.

I am uncomfortable with using this statute much, but it's clear that at times, it's necessary.

john said...

Just me,

"Another man spots the guy in the suit and decides he could use some entertainment; he diliberately picks up a gun, goes downstairs and tells the guy to hand over his wallet. The suit guy hands over his wallet and the assailant shoots him in the head anyway. He's caught and is sentenced to 5 years.

The guy in the t-shirt is spotted by a man in a different balcony. The guy in the balcony doesn't like gays; he deliberately gets his gun, goes downstairs, throws some insults around and ends up shooting the t-shirt guy in the head. He's caught and is sentenced to 25 years.

That's the proposed hate crimes law."


Yes, and we as a society acting through our elected representatives may determine that the second crime is worse, that it has an extra element justifying a more serious penalty. That IS what hate crimes laws do and I, for one, think they're a good idea. There are some kinds of behavior that are so outrageous and offensive, all the power of the State should be brought to bear to discourage them.

And homsexuality isn't a "lifestyle". The fact you don't seem to understand that - or perhaps do, yet use the term anyway - speaks volumes.

JCF said...

One more time, Just Me:

Every crime (esp. crimes of violence) has a SET punishment (prison time, fine, etc---up to including the death penalty in many states). Those punishments are to provide justice---such as it is---to the victim and their loved ones.

In terms of YOUR loved ones, that's what you get---that's ALL you get . . . and if you don't like it, CHANGE THE LAW to increase those set punishments (IMHO, many are too high already, but that's just Bleeding Heart Me).

Hate crime legislation is another matter altogether. They are NOT ABOUT the victim and their families. They're about the CLASS of people being intimidated through the hate crime.

A straight person and a gay person may be similarly assaulted---even by the same assailant. If there's no hate language or other indication, the criminal will punished equally for each crime, EVEN IF one victim was gay.

But in that situation, no class of people has to ESPECIALLY fear this particular criminal. It's just random---just bad luck.

But IF the criminal targets the gay person for BEING gay, then the message the assailant is sending is "When I get out, I'm coming for some other queer next!"

NOT random. One group TARGETED.

And for that reason, you apply hate crime provisions---on top of the SET penalty---and keep the criminal locked up longer (more time in the penitentiary, for repentance!).

It's all completely logical, and completely fair.

[Though frankly, your words "gay lifestyle limited his dating only enough to die of AIDS" says to me that you're not here for dialogue. You're here to say that LGBT people are LESS worthy of protection, because we've got a "lifestyle" which will kill us anyway.

Thanks. Thanks a lot, Just Me. Feelin' da love (Not)]