A presidential proclamation: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release May 29, 2015
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From the moment our Nation first came together to declare the fundamental truth that all men are created equal, courageous and dedicated patriots have fought to refine our founding promise and broaden democracy’s reach. Over the course of more than two centuries of striving and sacrifice, our country has expanded civil rights and enshrined equal protections into our Constitution. Through struggle and setback, we see a common trajectory toward a more free and just society. But we are also reminded that we are not truly equal until every person is afforded the same rights and opportunities — that when one of us experiences discrimination, it affects all of us — and that our journey is not complete until our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.
Across our Nation, tremendous progress has been won by determined individuals who stood up, spoke out, and shared their stories. Earlier this year, because of my landmark Executive Order on LGBT workplace discrimination, protections for Federal contractors went into effect, guarding against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Federal Government is now leading by example, ensuring that our employees and contractors are judged by the quality of their work, not by who they love. And I will keep calling on the Congress to pass legislation so that all Americans are covered by these protections, no matter where they work.
In communities throughout the country, barriers that limit the potential of LGBT Americans have been torn down, but too many individuals continue to encounter discrimination and unfair treatment. My Administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors because the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that it can cause substantial harm. We understand the unique challenges faced by sexual and gender minorities — especially transgender and gender non-conforming individuals — and are taking steps to address them. And we recognize that families come in many shapes and sizes. Whether biological, foster, or adoptive, family acceptance is an important protective factor against suicide and harm for LGBTQ youth, and mental health experts have created resources to support family communication and involvement.
For countless young people, it is not enough to simply say it gets better; we must take action too. We continue to address bullying and harassment in our classrooms, ensuring every student has a nurturing environment in which to learn and grow. Across the Federal Government, we are working every day to unlock the opportunities all LGBT individuals deserve and the resources and care they need. Too many LGBTQ youth face homelessness and too many older individuals struggle to find welcoming and affordable housing; that is why my Administration is striving to ensure they have equal access to safe and supportive housing throughout life. We are updating our National HIV/AIDS Strategy to better address the disproportionate burden HIV has on communities of gay and bisexual men and transgender women. We continue to extend family and spousal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. And because we know LGBT rights are human rights, we are championing protections and support for LGBT persons around the world.
All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence, and protected against discrimination, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our Nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our Union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are.
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 2015 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 twenty-ninth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fifteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

—  David Taffet

Obama calls for ban on discredited reparative therapy practice

ObamaPresident Barack Obama called for an end to the discredited practice known as reparative therapy yesterday (Wednesday, April 9) in response to a WhiteHouse.gov petition calling for a ban on the process.

The president’s statement, written by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, responded to a WhiteHouse.gov petition signed by more than 120,00 people calling for a ban on the practice following the suicide of a young transwoman, Leelah Alcorn, last December.

“We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth,” the statement reads. “When assessing the validity of conversion therapy, or other practices that seek to change an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation, it is as imperative to seek guidance from certified medical experts.”

Conversion therapy, as it is commonly called, is most often used on LGBT minors to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Numerous professional organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and American Medical Association, oppose the practice. Other organizations, ranging from the World Health Organization to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry have also denounced it.

But the practice still has some supporters, including a vocal group of social conservatives who acknowledged the practice in the Texas Republican Party platform during the party’s 2014 convention.

Currently California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have banned conversion therapy. Bills have been introduced in 18 states, including Texas, that would ban the process. Texas Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, who authored HB 3495 to ban conversion therapy, is currently awaiting a committee hearing on her bill.

—  James Russell

Federal workplace discrimination rules go into effect today


President Barack Obama signed executive orders to protect LGBT employees from federal workplace discrimination on Monday, July 21. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A new federal rule barring discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors and subcontractors went into effect today (Wednesday, April 8), a little less than a year after President Obama announced the historic move.

In a blog post, Labor Secretary Tom Perez called the move a civil rights victory.

“It will mean a more dynamic and inclusive workforce that captures the talents of more of our people. It advances the principle that we should be leaving no one on the sidelines, that America is strongest when it fields a full team,” Perez wrote.

Until today, Perez wrote, neither sexual orientation nor gender identity were considered protected classes under federal contracting ordinances. This is the first time the rule has been changed since 1974.

“Today is an important mile marker on the path to workplace equality, but our efforts are far from finished. We will move with all haste, bringing to bear the full resources of this department to implement and enforce these new protections on behalf of the LGBT Americans who work for federal contractors,” wrote Perez.

—  James Russell

Obama uses ‘lesbian,’ ‘bisexual,’ ‘transgender’ in SOTU for the first time ever

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President Barack Obama

Tonight wasn’t the first time that President Barack Obama has mentioned LGBT rights in his State of the Union Address; last year he took a brief moment to reiterate his commitment to LGBT rights around the world. He was the first to use the word “gay” in a State of the Union Address in 2010 when he talked about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

But the 2015 State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, Jan. 20 did mark an historic event for the LGBT community: For the first time ever in a State of the Union Address, a U.S. president used the words “bisexual” and “transgender.” UPDATE: I just discovered this is apparently the first time the word “lesbian” has been used in a State of the Union speech, too.

The historic moment came near the end of the president’s speech, when he said that Americans “condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

The president on Tuesday also called the ongoing battle for marriage equality “a story of freedom across our country” and “a civil right.” And he said that Americans now “value the dignity and worth” of gay people.

—  Tammye Nash

20 years after the Violence Against Women Act, how far have we come?


President Barack Obama issued a proclamation today recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act and calling “upon men and women of all ages, communities, organizations and all levels of government to work in collaboration to end violence against women.”

The proclamation comes a day after TMZ.com released video footage of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-girlfriend/now-wife Janay Palmer out cold in an elevator — video footage that prompted the Ravens to terminate Rice’s and prompted the NFL to suspend him indefinitely. That sounds reasonable, except that the incident back in March and in July NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell only suspended Rice for two games. (Rice was originally charged with felony assault but the charges were dropped when Palmer refused to testify against him.)

Originally, the only video footage made public showed the moments after the elevator doors opened and Rice dragged the unconscious Palmer part of the way out of the elevator and then left her laying in a heap on the floor. The video released this week by TMZ, taken by a camera inside the elevator, shows the brutal punch to the face that knocked her out.

As President Obama said in his proclamation today, it was 20 years ago that “our nation came together to declare our commitment to end violence against women.” The VAWA “created a vital network of services for victims,” expanded the number of shelters and rape crisis centers across the country, and established a national hotline, the proclamation says. The VAWA also “imrpoved our criminal justice system and provided specialized training to law enforcement … . It spurred new state laws and protections and changed the way people think about domestic abuse … .”

But watching that video of Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer and considering the NFL’s initial lackluster response, it doesn’t seem like we’ve made much progress toward that goal.

Add in some statistical information, and it’s even more discouraging.

According to UNWomen.org, the website for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, a global review of available data conducted in 2013 (World Health Organization, Global and Regional Estimates of Violence against Women) shows that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence . But some national studies show that up to 70 percent of women have experience sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner.

The UNWomen website goes on to cite The World Health Organization’s World Report on Violence and Health, which says that in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, intimate partner violence accounts for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims.

President Obama says that he was “proud to renew our pledge to our mothers and daughters by reauthorizing VAWA and extending its protections” last year. And while the VAWA has “provided hope, safety and a new chance at life for women and children across our nation,” the president acknowledges “we still have more work to do.”

“Too many women continue to live in fear in their own homes, too many victims still know the pain of abuse, and too many families have had to mourn the loss of their loved ones. It has to end — because even one is too many.”

Absolutely. But in the LGBT community we have to take it a step forward and remember that women are not the only victims of domestic violence, and men are not the only abusers.

According to a “fact sheet” published online by the Center for American Progress, 1 out of 4 to 1 out of 3 same-sex relationships has experienced domestic violence. And domestic abuse violence victims in same-sex relationships face threats that their abuser will “out” them at work or to family, some face the threat of having their children taken away, and some are even afraid of doing damage to the LGBT rights movement by admitting that domestic violence happens in our community.

These and other reasons make LGBT domestic violence victims more reluctant to report such violence to police, and leaves them feeling isolated, alone and helpless.

President Obama is right. We’ve got a long way to go. We in the LGBT community have to make sure we are part of the effort against domestic violence, not just in the country as a whole, but in our own community — our own homes — too.

—  Tammye Nash

Lesbian Gay Band Association will again march in inaugural parade

The LGBA, which held its 30th anniversary conference in Dallas this year, is shown marching in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

The Lesbian Gay Band Association, which became the first LGBT group to participate in an inaugural parade in 2009, will make an encore appearance Jan. 21, the Associated Press reports:

The Presidential Inaugural Committee began sending out invitations Tuesday to participants chosen to march behind Obama from his swearing in at the Capitol to the White House on Jan. 21.

The first selectees include the Virginia Military Institute, which is a traditional performer in inaugural parades, and the marching band from Miami University of Ohio, where first lady Michelle Obama spoke near the end of the campaign.

Others include Military Spouses of Michigan, the Lesbian and Gay Band Association of St. Louis, Chicago’s South Shore Drill Team and marching bands from Little Rock Central High School and Washington’s Ballou Senior High School.

Watch video from the LGBA’s appearance in the 2009 inaugural below.

—  John Wright

Dallas anti-gay leader Cathie Adams: Obama ‘fried his brain on drugs’

Cathie Adams

Not that she was ever sane — not hardly! — but Texas Eagle Forum President Cathie Adams has really gone off the deep end. Adams, the Dallas-based former chair of the Texas Republican Party, now says she believes President Obama is a Marxist who “fried his brain on drugs.” Adams also says watching Obama during the final presidential debate made her “want to go up and just smack his face!”

Adams made the comments just before the election at a “Call to Action” meeting where she spoke alongside the equally frightening Ted Cruz, Texas’ new U.S. senator. Right Wing Watch has audio and posted this transcript of Adams’ remarks:

Who is a Marxist in our White House?  Of course, it’s Barack Hussein Obama.  And I don’t know why we’re not calling him what he is as a Marxist.  It’s as if, when the wall fell that communism died; it didn’t.  Today, it is green on the outside and red on the inside. It is as red as ever and Barack Obama is implementing his green agenda, which is Marxism, and that is exactly why our economy is hurting as badly as it is and why twenty three million people are still out of work. That is exactly what is happening.

So for us to elect a US Senator or elect a President who thinks more of himself than he ought, who thinks so narcissisticly, as Barack Hussein Obama glared at Mitt Romney in that last debate, I was so offended I wanted to go up and just smack his face.

And folks we’ve got to be very careful about saying “well, that’s not for me but you can do whatever you want.” Folks, we have a rule of law, we have a Constitution and those things must be upheld.  We cannot think that, well, if what their trying to do, for example, right now on a ballot in Colorado is legalize marijuana.  And if we legalize it, will we empty out our jails and will we be safe for ever more?  No.  I’m telling you, Barack Hussein Obama has got to have a teleprompter because he fried his brain on drugs.

For those who don’t recognize her name, Adams has been one of the leading anti-gay voices in North Texas for decades. Given that she’s now confirmed as batshit fuckin’ crazy, I wonder if The Dallas Morning News will still call on Adams for comment every time a local LGBT issue comes up. Hey, let’s hope so! It’s hard to say what finally drove Adams over the edge, but we can only guess that her husband Homer’s defeat at the hands of gay Republican Rob Schlein in a race for GOP precinct chair in Far North Dallas this summer had something to do with it.

—  John Wright

Obama hasn’t replied to TX secession petition, but Rep. Garnet Coleman has

Garnet Coleman

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, a staunch LGBT ally who also happens to be African-American, sent out the below statement on Wednesday — complete with the image above — responding to a now-infamous petition we mentioned the other day calling for the White House to allow Texas to secede. Perhaps President Barack Obama should incorporate some of Coleman’s remarks into his own response to the petition. We’d especially recommend this paragraph:

The online petition, which currently has around 60,000 signatures and counting, is unfortunately not surprising. Ever since the election of this country’s first black president, there has been a surge of  rhetoric that had mostly lied dormant since the Civil War and subsequent Jim Crow era. After the election of President Obama, however, Governor Perry, whose hunting ranch was named “Niggerhead” until just recently, openly hinted at secession, and we spent much of last session talking about things like “states’ rights,” including a “Committee on State Sovereignty” and a House Resolution incorrectly asserting the state’s “rights under the Tenth Amendment.” This kind of rhetoric needs to end.

Read Coleman’s full statement below.

—  John Wright

LGBT vote a ‘key factor’ in Obama win

The LGBT vote was a key factor in President Barack Obama’s victory on Tuesday, according to an analysis by UCLA’s Williams Institute:

In a contest of razor-thin margins, the 4.5 million votes cast by the LGBT population was a critical component of the president’s winning coalition. …

“In this close election, data suggest that the overwhelming LGBT support for President Obama constitutes a key factor in his victory,” said Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar Gary J. Gates.

It’s an outcome that Gates predicted in a Gallup Special Report last month:

A new Gallup Report finds that 71% of LGBT Americans who are registered voters support President Obama for reelection, while 22% support Governor Mitt Romney. From June to September, non-LGBT registered voters preferred Romney to Obama by one percentage point, 47% to 46%. However, when LGBT voters are added to electorate, Obama moves slightly ahead of Romney (47% to 45%).  These findings suggest that the highly Democratic vote of the LGBT population could be enough to swing a very close election toward Obama.

—  John Wright

The gayest election night ever

Tuesday night was generally seen as a victorious one for gay and lesbian people across the nation: The reelection of Barack Obama, the first sitting president to endorse full marriage equality; the historic election of lesbian Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate; the defeat of anti-gay legislation. But even more gay was the coverage itself.

I watched the returns in a room full of gay people, ready to pop the bubbly cork as soon as Obama was called by one of the news channels (we were swimming in champagne by 10:15 p.m.). We flipped among the channels to see who had different predictions up. And we got to hear Rachel Maddow on MSNBC announce Barack Obama was the president still.


Then we watched as Anderson Cooper oversaw coverage on CNN.


And we logged onto Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog from the New York Times to check updates.

Silver’s also gay.

All of these people are out and proud and given principal responsibilities for overseeing election coverage for their media organizations. And so far as I noticed, none of them (or their fellows on TV in the cases of Maddow and Cooper) so much as hinted at their sexual orientation during their election night coverage. Because that was irrelevant to their reporting. (Compare that to the folks on Fox News, who acted as if the vote was a rebuke of Christian heterosexuality.)

We’ve reached a special plateau when the most respected newsmen in the country get to report on popular votes about gay folks and be on the side of the majority. The excitement wasn’t just at the ballot box Tuesday night. It was right up there on the screen.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones