June 29th, 2009
09:00 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama to host reception for LGBT community

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/29/obama.gays/art.obama.gay.gi.jpg caption="President Obama signed same-sex benefits legislation earlier this month."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama will host a White House reception Monday in honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, but faces criticism for not keeping campaign promises to the community.

"I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans," the president said in a proclamation this month. "These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing "don't ask, don't tell" policy in a way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security."

But critics say it's too little, too late.

A memorandum signed this month by Obama means same-sex partners of civil
service employees can be added to the long-term care program, employees can use their sick leave to take care of domestic partners, and children and same-sex
partners of Foreign Service employees will be included in medical evacuations
and housing allocations, according to the White House.

But it does not extend full health care coverage, which would require an
act of Congress.

"It seems to me at least to be a nice gesture, but a disappointment," Richard Kim, a senior editor at The Nation magazine, said at the time. "It will absolutely be seen as something good. But I think, for example, it not including full health insurance, that is going to put a real microscope on that question. You know, why not?" Kim said, adding that memo applies only to federal employees, so most people will not be affected by it.

The extension of health and retirement benefits to same-sex partners is prohibited under the Defense of Marriage Act.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the entire memorandum violates the act.

"President Obama's ... executive order uses taxpayer money to placate an angry portion of his base at the expense of the rule of law," Perkins said this month in a written statement. "This order raises the question of whether the president has the authority to ignore (the Defense of Marriage Act) and bypass the legislative process."

Charles Moran, the spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans, said the lack of full benefits in the June 18 memorandum shows a lack of commitment to the gay community.

"That's the part that just shows that the Obama administration really isn't serious about their promises to the gay and lesbian community. Things like the health benefits, things like retirement benefits and coverage for spouses - these are the core issues," Moran said.

He said Obama has had multiple opportunities to fulfill his promises to the gay and lesbian community - including by repealing the military's don't ask, don't tell policy and standing against the Justice Department motion filed this month in support of the Defense of Marriage Act.

"Here we are, several months after he's been inaugurated, and we've gotten basically nothing. So it is too little, too late," Moran said.

Obama said he still wants to repeal the act, as he advocated during last year's election campaign.

"I believe it's discriminatory. I think it interferes with states' rights, and we will work with Congress to overturn it," he said.

Obama frequently spoke in favor of gay and lesbian rights during the presidential campaign, but also has said he opposes same-sex marriage. In the run up to his inauguration, he declared himself "a fierce advocate for gay and lesbian Americans."

Given the support Obama received from the gay community during the campaign season, Kim said, so far, the Obama administration has let gay and lesbian rights activists down.

Obama got 70 percent of the vote from those who identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, according to CNN exit polls.

"I think there is an overwhelming feeling that he has not lived up to expectations on these matters," he said.

Obama is the second U.S. president to recognize the community. Bill Clinton designated June 2000 as Gay and Lesbian Pride month.

soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. kimberly

    This is a good start but he needs to keep his promises to these people. They deserve marriage for the sake of the children that they save from hetros that dont want them and give them away. They deserve human rights like all the cheating adultrous "christians". They deserve it NOW! It unreal to me that Obama is even taking anything theloons on the right say about this matter. They will never vote for him, becaucw he believes in human chose and rights, BUT he could lose the votes of people that did vote for him on his promise to pass on human rigths to EVERY American!

    June 29, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. patSuffolkNY

    Civil Unions? Hmmm...someone hasn't learned that separate and equal does not exist! I guess Obama hasn't learned that because he never had to ride the back of the bus, attend segregated schools, drink from colored only water fountains. If had, then maybe he'ld have a better perspective on why civil unions are not enough...they only perpetuate separate and unequal!

    Marriage Equality by Any Means Necessary!

    June 29, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  3. Ed Tallahassee FL

    How many months in are we? I think saying it's too late is a bit over the top.

    That being said I think he has made some good first steps, but more needs to be done.

    I think that the House and Senate need to step-up as well.

    June 29, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  4. Reinstate Darwinism

    One thing the LGBT always do well is make a party interesting. I just hope CNN doens't give us all of the details of the president in Chaps singing YMCA. (this is a j/k, apparently everyone needs a disclaimer these days)

    June 29, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  5. Melissa

    What is wrong with the American people? Its like they have lost all capacity for patience. I'm ashamed of most of the population in this country for their behavior.

    June 29, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  6. TCM

    Another immoral, disgusting, Anti-American move by this facade of a leader. Pandering to the deviant minorities....

    June 29, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. Buford

    You know as being part of the gay community I do not feel that the president has let us down in any way. You know he has about a million other things on his plate and gay rights is just one. Yes, they are important but I believe that there are many other things that are more important at the moment.

    June 29, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  8. Stuffit

    "Here we are, several months after he's been inaugurated, and we've gotten basically nothing. So it is too little, too late," Moran said.

    There you have it, we want more from the gov't trough.

    This is far more about money than it is equality, either real or imagined.

    June 29, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  9. Melissa

    Why not include health care? Because of Congress. Obama is NOT a god. He cannot force Congress to do anything.

    June 29, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. Stuffit

    How about some props to the DIANA community?

    DIANA (Dutch-Irish-Anglo-Native American Americans).

    Perhaps we are a small group, but at least some group in that collective of my ancestry has suffered at the hands of a tyrannical government. Where's MY piece of the pie, my event at the White House?

    June 29, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  11. Fla.

    It's good to see President Obama continue to reach out to all Americans.

    Exactly what would Log Cabin Republicans expect to get for their concerns/issues from their Party of No? Unfortunately, it would seem another big NO.

    Some issues happen to take time in the legislative process, especially with the numerous challenges facing our great nation; however, I continue to be confident that President Obama will address each one in due course for every American going forward, including the LBGT community.

    June 29, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  12. the southern progressive

    republican lindsey graham from south carolina described the republican party as a party fo sinners, so for the life of me, i cannot figure out why they use the Bible to discriminate agtainst citizens of the united states.. that is just insane and ludicrous

    time for equality for all mr president. quite playing games with our lives.

    June 29, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. stovall

    No its not a little too late. President Obama has a lot on his damm plate give him a break. He is going to handle his business for the gay community, I am sure of it. Give him a chance he is fixing everything that was broken by Bush and a little of Clinton.

    June 29, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. the southern progressive

    @Stuffit June 29th, 2009 11:06 am ET

    How about some props to the DIANA community?

    DIANA (Dutch-Irish-Anglo-Native American Americans).

    Perhaps we are a small group, but at least some group in that collective of my ancestry has suffered at the hands of a tyrannical government. Where's MY piece of the pie, my event at the White House?

    ahh. gee.. that sucks.. but hey,, at least things have changed for the heterosexual DIANAs, but for homosexuals DIANA's its discrimination as usual,.... and that is the reason for LGBT community making its voice heard.. so we all can now enjoy the rights and privelages of heterosexual DIANA'S, thanks for letting us know that our suffrage will to end one day.

    June 29, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  15. Chuck

    Mr. Obama,

    Had you said that you would promote gay rights and promote illegal immigration by legalization as a candidate, I would not have voted for you. The massive giveaways of borrowed taxpayer money to corrupt lenders and AIG by you and Bush and the Republican tax cuts for the rich and business are reducing this country to haves and have nots.

    June 29, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  16. bert

    This is a very wise President. I love the stance he is taking with the gays concerning their issues.

    June 29, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. rachel

    wouldn't hold my breath for Obama to make any real strides or changes for lbgt community. He will talk a good game and then nothing. Lbgt your community will get left out in the could again. You are not his concern, at least until its closer to reelection.

    June 29, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  18. carla

    He could do most of these things with the stroke of a pen but he won't. He is trying to get re-elected. But he forgets that gays helped elect him. And we will turn on him in an instant once it is clear that he is a charlatan.

    June 29, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  19. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    It's never too late when nothing has been done for LGBT community at all. Be patient.

    June 29, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
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