On May 15, the United Nations celebrated the 20th annual International Day of Families. Around the world, the U.N. helped nations to refocus on the role of families in development; take stock of recent trends in family policy development; share good practices in family policy making; and review challenges faced by families worldwide.
But in the United States, no presidential proclamation. No encouraging message in the Congressional Record. No statement on the White House website.
President Obama, it appeared, just forgot about it.
Well, not exactly. Someone at the White House must have realized the omission, because at 5:11 p.m., after the close of business, a Twitter message appeared in the President’s name, including a photo of the First Family.
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But it was a different story on May 17, on the U.N.’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. On that day, President Barack Obama issued a statement commemorating the day. According to Breitbart.com, the President said:
“We recommit ourselves to the fundamental belief that all people should be treated equally, that they should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, and that no one should face violence or discrimination — no matter who they are or whom they love,” he said as he affirmed “our commitment to ensuring that the human rights of all people are universally protected.”
“At a time when, tragically, we are seeing increased efforts to criminalize or oppress LGBT persons, we call on partners everywhere to join us in defending the equal rights of our LGBT brothers and sisters, and in ensuring they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,”
The President’s statement compared gay rights to the fight for civil rights of African-Americans:
This year, the United States celebrates the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, and the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. In doing so, we reflect on lessons learned from our own civil rights struggles and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that the human rights of all people are universally protected.
Secretary of Defense John Kerry, in his proclamation noting the day, said:
It’s not lost on anyone that this year’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) coincides with the 60th anniversary of the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Our commitment to advancing the human rights of LGBT persons is part of this country’s long history of fighting to ensure that all people can exercise their human rights.
Breitbart reports that Kerry went on to signal that the administration is willing to pressure private companies and religious groups:
This past week, we convened religious leaders and representatives of faith-based organizations to think about how we work together to promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons. Next week, we will convene meetings with our private sector allies to discuss the important role of the business community in promoting equality and the ways we can partner through the Global Equality Fund.
But that’s not all! Spanish newspapers reported that the U.S. Embassy in Madrid flew the rainbow flag over the embassy. In fact, the Twitter account #USembassyMadrid posted a photo of the flag.
On the same day U.S. Ambassador James Costos, who is openly gay, flew the rainbow flag over his official residence. He posted a picture of himself, proudly raising the flag:
And David Brody, news chief and political correspondent for CBN News, reports that the State Department and the nation of Finland issued a joint statement which read, in part:
“The United States and Finland recognize that supporting human rights is the responsibility of all governments and peoples, and that the human rights of LGBT persons are not different or separate from the human rights of any other persons.
Defending the human rights of LGBT persons is part of our shared human rights policies, and of our respective foreign policies. As part of its commitment to these values, Finland announces its pledge to increase its support to the Global Equality Fund by 1 million Euros, and will continue to work with the United States and other like-minded partners — including the governments of Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the Arcus Foundation, the John D. Evans Foundation, LLH: the Norwegian LGBT Organization, the M•A•C AIDS Fund, Deloitte, and Out Leadership — to build on our shared commitment and partnership to advance freedom, equality, and dignity for all.
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What makes the Administration’s enthusiastic endorsement of the cause even more problematic, according to BizPacReview, is that May 17 was Armed Forces Day. Although an official proclamation was issued, there was no mention by the President of the men and women who serve in the nation’s military, either in person or on his Twitter feed.