In its few short years, the White House’s petition platform has gotten impassioned activists pretty fired up.
The "We the People" initiative allows citizens to launch petitions around the issues they care about most, which have ranged from legalizing gay marriage to constructing the Death Star to deporting Justin Bieber.
Since 2011, the White House has responded to more than 200 online petitions, according to the administration's blog, and has seen a 360 percent growth rate in the number of users participating in its digital activism platform.
To elicit a response from the White House, petitioners have to collect at least 100,000 signatures over the course of a month, and have a little bit of patience. The following seven engendered some pretty bold statements from the Obama Administration.
When President Obama made gun control personal.
Six days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting left 20 kids and six adults dead in 2012, President Obama responded directly, for the first and only time, to 33 petitions related to gun control laws. A number pushed for bans on assault rifles, while others stressed the Second Amendment.
In his response, Obama reiterated his suggestions to Congress, which included banning the sale of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, and requiring background checks for all gun purchases.
When the Westboro Baptist Church was deemed "reprehensible."
Responding to five petitions at once, the White House chastised the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, a group that often protests at military funerals and links the deaths of soldiers to America's growing acceptance of gay people. Some petitions called for the organization to be deemed a hate group and others said that its nonprofit status should be revoked. In its response, the White House called Westboro’s funeral antics "reprehensible," and reminded petitioners that, in 2012, Obama signed an act that requires protesters to stand at least 300 feet away from military funerals.
When the White House revealed its secret beer recipe.
It’s believed to be the first beer brewed on White House grounds, and can now be made in kitchens everywhere thanks to the more than 12,000 people who demanded the recipe. After the White House Honey Brown Ale proved to be a success, the brewers introduced Honey Porter and Honey Blonde -- each is made with honey taken from the first beehive on the South Lawn.
When freedom of speech was protected.
When the Internet turned to the White House to protect the First Amendment, the response was a resounding "yes." In January 2012, a petition called on the White House to respond to two pieces of controversial anti-piracy legislation -- the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate. While the White House acknowledged its concerns about piracy, it stated that it could not support legislation that "reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet."
When pit bulls were vindicated.
Animal advocates have long called for an end to legislation that unfairly targets specific breeds of dogs, and, last August, the White House agreed. The petition called for an end to breed-specific laws. The White House said it sees such legislation as a "bad idea," and that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective.
When citizens demanded the right to unlock their own cell phones.
After more than 114,000 people petitioned to have the right to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties, the White House took their side last March. "A lot of people reacted skeptically when I originally started the petition, with lots of comments to the effect of 'petitions don't do anything,'" Sina Khanifar, the man who started the petition, told ABC News. "The optimist in me is really glad to have proved them wrong. The White House just showed that they really do listen, and that they're willing to take action."
When debt-ridden college grads got a break.
The average college graduate accumulates more than $20,000 in student loans, a burden that the White House agreed in 2011 needs to be reduced. The petition called for the government to forgive students loans in order to stimulate the economy. The White House concurred and introduced a new policy that would allow students to repay student loans based on the income they make, rather than the standard 10-year repayment plan.