Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez is among several LGBT community leaders from across the country who will attend a reception at the White House this afternoon in honor of Gay Pride Month and the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, according to sheriff’s department spokesman Raul Reyna.
According to a statement from the White House, the event is “is a chance for the White House to recognize the accomplishments of LGBT Americans.” Valdez is the nation’s only lesbian Latina sheriff. She is also the first woman, the first Latina and the first lesbian elected sheriff of Dallas County.
In a press release, Valdez said, “This is such an honor for me both professionally and personally. I am looking forward to seeing the President again as well as meeting many of the LGBT members who have also been given this special honor.”
Some have been criticized for accepting invitations to this event, which has been billed as a cocktail party and characterized as an attempt by President Obama to make up for his failure to deliver on promises to the LGBT community. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has said the president doesn’t plan to make any substantive announcements at the reception regarding DOMA or “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” But others believe it’s still important for them to attend. From The Washington Blade:
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that he’s attending the event because he believes the objectives of the LGBT community “require us to be present and to use every opportunity for dialogue and discussion even when we strongly disagree on the level of progress that’s been made.”
“I believe the president will deliver an address on the state of LGBT equality and it’s important to hear those remarks first-hand and have the opportunity to talk directly to the president and members of his administration,” he said.
Solmonese said he would continue to the press Obama and Congress to deliver on “basic and overdue protections,” such as passing hate crimes legislation and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as well repealing DOMA and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“I continue to respect President Obama and believe we can achieve our goals for equality in partnership with this Administration,” Solmonese said.