Monday, May 31, 2010

Presidential Proclamation: June is LGBT Pride Month

The White House released a statement on Friday proclaiming June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. In a repeat of last year's proclamation, the president recognized the contributions of LGBT Americans, saying, in part: 

"LGBT Americans have enriched and strengthened the fabric of our national life.  From business leaders and professors to athletes and first responders, LGBT individuals have achieved success and prominence in every discipline.  They are our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters, and our friends and neighbors.  Across my Administration, openly LGBT employees are serving at every level.  Thanks to those who came before us    the brave men and women who marched, stood up to injustice, and brought change through acts of compassion or defiance    we have made enormous progress and continue to strive for a more perfect union."

Before we jump all over the president for what he hasn't done, and the promises he hasn't kept, let's step back, take a breath and remember what he has done.

The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act was signed into law last year. This new law provides federal funding to local law enforcement for the investigation and prosecution of crimes against LGBT Americans based on hate. This is the first ever pro-LGBT legislation in U.S. history.

Renewal of the Ryan White CARE Act which continues funding for the care and treatment of people living with HIV/AIDS. Don't forget that many states, like Connecticut, South Carolina and Pennsylvania are cutting HIV/AIDS funds as they try to balance their budgets during these tough economic times.

The president also repealed Ronald Reagan's ban on entry into the U.S. of foreign travelers with HIV/AIDS and issued a memorandum to hospitals receiving federal funding (which is about 98% of them) extending the rights of patients to determine who will be allowed to see them in the hospital and who will be able to make medical decisions for them. Prior to this, only "immediate family" had these rights.

The presidential proclamation also mentions the creation by the Department of Health and Human Services of a National Resource Center for LGBT Elders.

Okay, before you jump all over me and remind me of all the promises that have been unkept and and how the administration has dragged it's feet on our issues, let me remind you that I have written about all of those things myself. Obama still has a long way to go and not a lot of time to get things done. But, as you can see from his history on our issues, he's been taking an incremental approach by starting with the smaller, easier initiatives and working his way up to the larger, more difficult ones.

Say what you want about the man, for better or worse, he has done more for our community than any other president and I don't think it's wrong to acknowledge that. That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep up the pressure to move forward more quickly and with as much or more determination. We have to keep watching congress and the president like a hawk and keep their feet to the fire.

The DADT compromise is far from perfect, but it's the only offer we've got. We have to keep making noise about it all summer at our Pride Festivals. Keep criticizing our leaders and demanding that they make it more fair. We have to let them know that they can no longer take our support for granted. We have to up the ante and remind them that their jobs are on the line this November and our votes, or lack of them, could make the difference in whether or not they keep their jobs.
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