The statement for the first time declares that "history is on our side," but other than that breaks little new ground from his previous LGBT month proclamations.
"e rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity," Obama said.
As he did in breaking new ground in 2009, Obama again references transgenders, a category that includes cross-dressers and people undergoing sex-change operations. The statement also, for the third straight year, calls for protections based on gender identity, a term that refers to men and women who, in essence, believe they were born the wrong sex.
"Since taking office, my Administration has made significant progress towards achieving equality for LGBT Americans," the proclamation reads. "... 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."
The proclamation states Obama's achievements for the homosexual community, foremost among them the congressional repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.
President Clinton was the first president to issue such a proclamation, first doing so in 1999 and then in 2000 before he left office. He called it only "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month." President Bush never acknowledged the month in a proclamation.
Bob Stith, the Southern Baptist national strategist for gender issues and the representative of the denomination's Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals, said the proclamation is discouraging.
"It is somewhat disturbing and disheartening that President Obama continues to insist that we take pride in what for many of us is a distinctly moral decision," Stith told Baptist Press. "Personally I would find him more believable if he showed an equal compassion for and willingness to defend those who have chosen to leave homosexuality and those who have faced persecution, loss of jobs and ridicule for their traditional beliefs."
Stith pointed to two examples in the sports world. In one, Olympic gold medalist gymnast Peter Vidmar signed on as the United States' "chief of mission" for the 2012 London Olympics in April, but stepped down under pressure after news reports showed he had donated $2,000 in 2008 to help pass California Proposition 8 and appeared at two rallies in support of it. Prop 8 reversed a law that had legalized "gay marriage." In the second example, Canadian sports TV host Damian Goddard was fired May 11, the day after he stated his opposition to "gay marriage" in a Tweet.
The Bible clearly states that homosexuals can change, Stith said, referencing 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
"The real persecution today is much more likely to be directed at those who dare to express hope for change or those who joyfully speak of the new life they have post-gay," Stith said. "Where is the outrage over the prejudice directed at them? And prejudice it is when various studies continue to show what biblical Christians have known since the days of Corinth -- change is possible."
Unlike the previous two proclamations, Obama's statement did not reference same-sex relationships. In 2009 he stated his support for civil unions -- which most homosexual groups now view as inadequate -- and in 2010 he stated his opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act. Earlier this year Obama ordered his Justice Department to stop defending the law in court. If the entire law is overturned, then all 50 states could be forced to recognize "gay marriage."
Following is Obama's full 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."
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. The Southern Baptist Convention has a ministry to homosexuals. Find more information at http://www.sbcthewayout.com.
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