The Obama administration is making a series of diplomatic and political gestures of good will this week to the gay rights community with which it has occasionally clashed.
On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder was cheered by a crowd of gay and lesbian employees at the Department of Justice after he pledged to use newly enacted laws to protect their presence in the workplace.
"The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which the president signed into law last October, finally protects our nation's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered individuals from the most brutal forms of bias-motivated violence," Holder said.
The remarks were part of a broader outreach by the administration to LGBT employees. On Tuesday, the White House is set to host an event celebrating LBGT Pride Month. There was some confusion as to whether the president would show up at the ceremony. But an administration official tells the Huffington Post that he will give short remarks.
"[H]e is expected to deliver brief remarks," the aide said. "Invited guests include elected officials, state and local community leaders, and LGBT Americans from communities across the country -- including many youth -- who have stood up for equality."
The actually invitation list is not yet known, nor would the administration official elaborate. But it stands to reason that it will be chosen delicately. The president has been interrupted routinely in public forums by gay rights protesters who insist he hasn't gone far enough on the topic of repealing the military's ban on open service. Don't Ask Don't Tell has receded as a political issue after the House was able to put gradual repeal of the policy into the defense authorization bill. But there are certainly other contentious topics.
One activist emailed that he expects there to be a "look back" at what the White House has accomplished. But there is more that the president can do in address with respect to future activity.
"This Administration has taken small but significant steps in advancing LGBT equality (namely hospital visitation rights)," said Kevin Nix, Director of Communications at Family Equality Council. "But much more is left to do when it comes to the one million LGBT families raising two million kids in this country--like repealing DOMA and passing the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would swing open the doors for LGBT people to adopt. We look to this White House and Congress for leadership on these key issues that directly impact families."
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