Yesterday, in his third LGBT Pride proclamation, President Obama noted the accomplishments of his administration: the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the first White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, and the “steps to eliminate discrimination against LGBT Americans” in the federal government. AmericaBlog’s Joe Sudbay observes that Obama did not mention same-sex marriage, DOMA or even civil unions. “The President is behind the curve and getting further behind every day,” Sudbay writes. “He knows which way the trendline is moving.”
Fair enough. But even as Obama falls short of real equality, his proclamations do represent a substantial advancement of LGBT issues in the mainstream of American politics. As Dana Rudolph wrote last year, President Clinton was the first president to recognize pride in 1999, but he waited until the third year of his second term. Obama issued his in the very first year of his administration and offered a much more progressive take on LGBT equality:
Clinton, writing after six years in office, noted in his first proclamation that his administration had banned sexual orientation-based discrimination in the federal civilian work force and in the granting of security clearances. Obama’s 2010 proclamation speaks not of non-discrimination policies for federal employees but of the need for equal benefits. (Obama has added gender identity to the discrimination protections for federal employees, but did not mention that in either of his Pride proclamations.) [...]
Clinton, who in 1996 had signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), did not mention marriage equality or federal relationship recognition. Obama, however, spoke in his first proclamation of the need to enact civil unions and in his second of the need to repeal DOMA.
Clinton’s proclamations also overlooked the military’s ban on gay and lesbian servicemembers, which he had promised to repeal, only to settle on the compromise later known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” [...]
Clinton’s proclamations did not speak of HIV/AIDS…Obama, in his 2009 Pride proclamation, did mention the ongoing need to fight HIV/AIDS. [...]
Clinton also made no mention of adoption rights for LGBT people, whereas Obama in both proclamations said we must work to ensure such rights. In 2010, he made a point of recognizing LGBT mothers and fathers.
Read Obama’s third LGBT Pride proclamation here.