President Trump has declined to issue at the start of June a proclamation designating the month as a time for celebration of Pride, breaking with a tradition started under the Obama administration.
By the end of the last weekday in May, President Obama each year during his time at the White House issued a proclamation recognizing Pride. Trump, on the other hand, had thus far issued no such proclamation — or even recognized June as Pride from his often-used Twitter account.
Trump on the last day of May issued five separate proclamations recognizing June as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, African-American Music Appreciation Month, National Homeownership Month, Great Outdoors Month and National Ocean Month. Absent from the list was anything related to Pride.
The White House last month hadn’t ruled out the possibility that Trump would recognize Pride, telling the Washington Blade the decision would be announced at the time of the June proclamations. But after the White House omitted any Pride proclamations from its series of proclamations on Wednesday, the White House didn’t respond to a request on whether a recognition of Pride would be forthcoming.
The tradition of presidential Pride proclamations started under President Clinton, although President George W. Bush discontinued that practice during his time in office. Obama renewed that tradition for each of his eight years at the White House, recognizing not only Pride in his proclamations but also achievements in LGBT rights, such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage nationwide.
Obama also started a tradition of hosting annual receptions at the White House recognizing June as Pride month. It seems unlikely Trump would continue that practice and hold a similar reception after declining to issue a Pride proclamation, not to mention his unpopularity with LGBT community after policies such as revoking Obama-era guidance assuring transgender kids have access to school bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.
Instead, a group of former LGBT Obama administration officials, led by former White House LGBT liaison Gautam Raghavan and Aditi Hardikar, are planning a “NOT the White House Pride Party,” taking would cue from Samantha Bee’s “Not the White House Correspondents Dinner” event.
The event is scheduled to take place June 10 to coincide with Capital Pride and the 2017 Equality March. Set to attend are Valerie Jarrett, former senior advisor to President Obama, and former Army Secretary Eric Fanning. Proceeds will go to Casa Ruby, a D.C. based shelter and center for trans women of color and immigrants.
Meanwhile, LGBT affinity groups for federal agencies are continuing their traditions of holding events to observe Pride. Agencies known to the Blade that are hosting events are the Pentagon, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing & Urban Development and the Justice Department.
A representative of HUD GLOVE told the Blade HUD Secretary Carson was invited to speak at the HUD event. It remains to be seen whether he’ll take that opportunity given an anti-LGBT record that includes comparing homosexuality to bestiality and calling transgender people.
For the Pentagon event on June 12, DOD Pride invited Defense Secretary James Mattis to speak. A DOD spokesperson said the department’s leadership instead will send a lower level official, Tony Kurta, acting under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.