WASHINGTON (BP) -- For the fourth straight year, President Obama has issued a proclamation recognizing June as Gay Pride month, saying "more remains to be done" in advancing gay issues and for the first time acknowledging his support for gay marriage within a proclamation.
President Clinton was the first president to issue a Gay Pride Month proclamation, a practice that was halted under President Bush and then continued under Obama. Obama was the first president to add "transgender" to the proclamation and to call it "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month."
Obama's latest proclamation lists his achievements for the gay community, such as signing a repeal of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and also signing a hate crimes bill that encompasses "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."
"And because we must treat others the way we want to be treated, I personally believe in marriage equality for same-sex couples," Obama's proclamation reads, using Golden Rule imagery that no doubt will upset traditional Christians. "More remains to be done to ensure every single American is treated equally, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Moving forward, my Administration will continue its work to advance the rights of LGBT Americans. This month, as we reflect on how far we have come and how far we have yet to go, let us recall that the progress we have made is built on the words and deeds of ordinary Americans."
Transgender is a category that includes cross-dressers and people undergoing sex-change operations. Gender identity is a term that refers to men and women who believe they were born the wrong sex. In some state legislatures and city governments, debates over gender identity have led to heated discussions about whether men should be able to use women's restrooms, and vice versa. Gay rights supporters answer affirmatively.
The proclamation concludes, "Now, therefore, I, Barack Obama ... do hereby proclaim June 2012 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."
Bob Stith, the Southern Baptist national strategist for gender issues and the representative of the denomination's Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals, said Obama is wrong in asserting that opposition to homosexuality equals prejudice.
"President Obama again casts all those who have a genuine, biblically based belief that homosexual acts are sin as haters," Stith told Baptist Press. "It is not prejudicial to say that certain acts which have been viewed as sin for over 3,000 years by all three major religions are still sin.
"The president calls for freedom, fairness and full equality under the law and eliminating prejudice everywhere it exists. This would be much more believable if he extended that concern to those who seek to leave homosexuality," Stith added. "The task of helping those who do not want to live homosexually grows more difficult each time this kind of proclamation comes out."
The fact that Obama is framing the legalization of gay marriage as one of ridding the country of prejudice does not bode well for traditional Christians, Stith said.
"The words the president uses in his drive to normalize homosexuality clearly portray any who disagree with him as prejudiced bigots. Those who agree are loving and brave," Stith said. "The danger here is that those who dare to seek to protect the definition of marriage which has stood unchallenged for thousands of years are themselves the victims of prejudice and hate. Unfortunately, this proclamation shows no interest in preventing this kind of bigotry. Rather it is another example that if something is repeated often enough it will be accepted as truth even if the evidence doesn't support it."
The week Obama announced his support for gay marriage, his campaign released a web video showing presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney stating his support for the traditional definition of marriage. The title of the video: "Mitt Romney: Backwards on Equality."
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
Following is the full text of Obama's proclamation, also available online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/01/presidential-proclamation-lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-pride-mon
"Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2012
"By The President Of The United States Of America
"From generation to generation, ordinary Americans have led a proud and inexorable march toward freedom, fairness, and full equality under the law not just for some, but for all. Ours is a heritage forged by those who organized, agitated, and advocated for change; who wielded love stronger than hate and hope more powerful than insult or injury; who fought to build for themselves and their families a Nation where no one is a second-class citizen, no one is denied basic rights, and all of us are free to live and love as we see fit.
"The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community has written a proud chapter in this fundamentally American story. From brave men and women who came out and spoke out, to union and faith leaders who rallied for equality, to activists and advocates who challenged unjust laws and marched on Washington, LGBT Americans and allies have achieved what once seemed inconceivable. This month, we reflect on their enduring legacy, celebrate the movement that has made progress possible, and recommit to securing the fullest blessings of freedom for all Americans.
"Since I took office, my Administration has worked to broaden opportunity, advance equality, and level the playing field for LGBT people and communities. We have fought to secure justice for all under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and we have taken action to end housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We expanded hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients and their loved ones, and under the Affordable Care Act, we ensured that insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to someone just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Because we understand that LGBT rights are human rights, we continue to engage with the international community in promoting and protecting the rights of LGBT persons around the world. Because we repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans can serve their country openly, honestly, and without fear of losing their jobs because of whom they love. And because we must treat others the way we want to be treated, I personally believe in marriage equality for same-sex couples.
"More remains to be done to ensure every single American is treated equally, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Moving forward, my Administration will continue its work to advance the rights of LGBT Americans. This month, as we reflect on how far we have come and how far we have yet to go, let us recall that the progress we have made is built on the words and deeds of ordinary Americans. Let us pay tribute to those who came before us, and those who continue their work today; and let us rededicate ourselves to a task that is unending the pursuit of a Nation where all are equal, and all have the full and unfettered opportunity to pursue happiness and live openly and freely.
"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 2012 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 first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth."