The first day of June has arrived and President Trump again declined to issue a proclamation recognizing Pride month, breaking a tradition when Democrats occupied the White House.
Meanwhile, Trump has issued proclamations in recent days recognizing National Caribbean-American Heritage Month, National Ocean Month, Great Outdoors Month, National Homeownership Month and African-American Music Appreciation Month.
The White House hasn’t responded to repeated requests from the Washington Blade in the past month seeking comment on whether a Pride proclamation would be issued.
The lack of a Pride proclamation is similar to Trump’s decision last year not to recognize the occasion during his first Pride in the White House. (Instead, Ivanka Trump took to Twitter to wish LGBT people a “joyful” Pride — and was resoundingly panned for issuing that message at the same time she worked for her father and stayed silent on his anti-LGBT policies.)
The situation has changed since last year as the Trump administration has rolled out additional anti-LGBT policies, which would make any Pride proclamation this year less likely, and, even if it were issued, somewhat awkward.
Since last June, Trump issued a ban on transgender people in the U.S. military after announcing via Twitter they would not be able to serve “in any capacity” in the armed forces. Other policies include executive actions in the name of “religious freedom” that would enable anti-LGBT discrimination and the Justice Department’s decision to exclude LGBT people from enforcement of federal civil rights law.
Before the Trump administration, Democrats who occupied the White House had issued proclamations recognizing June as Pride month. Former President Bill Clinton started the tradition, although that practice was suspending during the George W. Bush years. Former President Obama issued a proclamation on the last weekday in May for each year during his two terms and held annual receptions at the White House celebrating Pride with LGBT leaders.
Meanwhile, the departments in the Trump administration — many of which with LGBT employees holding events recognizing Pride, but without the officials leading those departments — seem to be taking different approaches to recognizing Pride.
At the Pentagon, an informed source said for the first time since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal certification the department won’t issue a formal recognition of Pride month, although the LGBT affinity group for DOD employees will hold an event for the occasion in the Pentagon Courtyard on June 11.
That’s a contrast from the first year of the Trump administration when Acting Secretary of Personnel & Readiness Anthony Kurta, a holdover from the Obama years, issued a memo declaring the Pentagon “recognizes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members and civilians for their dedicated service to the DOD and the nation.”
Since that time, Trump has issued his transgender ban — a policy that was reaffirmed by Defense Secretary James Mattis in a 44-page recommendation against transgender service with few exceptions. Kurta has also left his role in the aftermath of the confirmation of the Trump-appointed Defense Secretary for Personnel & Readiness Robert Wilkie, whom Trump has nominated for secretary of veterans affairs.
The Pentagon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the absence of Pride recognition or whether a proclamation would be issued.
At the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who faced opposition during his confirmation process for his anti-LGBT record as a lawmaker and for comments suggesting gay sex is a perversion, issued a statement recognizing June as Pride month.
In the statement, Pompeo says the United States “joins people around the world in celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Pride Month, and reaffirms its commitment to protecting and defending the human rights of all, including LGBTI persons.”
“In many parts of the world, LGBTI individuals and their supporters continue to face violence, arrest, harassment and intimidation for standing up for their human rights, participating in peaceful marches and rallies, expressing their views, and simply being who they are,” Pompeo adds. “LGBTI persons – like all persons – must be free to enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, without fear of reprisal. As Americans, we place a high value on these rights and freedoms, which all persons deserve to enjoy fully and equally.”
Meanwhile, leaders in the Democratic Party in contrast to Trump issued statements recognizing June as Pride month.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement reflecting on the history of Pride as a recognition of the 1969 Stonewall riots and progress since that time, such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal and marriage equality.
“This Pride Month, LGBTQ Americans continue to face an unprecedented assault on this progress from the Trump Administration’s discriminatory agenda and its relentless attacks on the transgender community,” Pelosi said. “These appalling actions dishonor our values and only strengthen our resolve to ensure all Americans are treated with dignity and respect.”
Pelosi said Democrats would resist the Trump administration’s anti-LGBT policies and identified passage of the Equality Act as the next goal in achieving LGBT rights.
“Together, we will continue to celebrate and take pride in our nation’s beautiful diversity as we work to build a brighter future for all Americans,” Pelosi concluded.
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez also issued a statement recognizing June as Pride month, recognizing LGBT icons like Harvey Milk, Laverne Cox and Edie Windsor as well as progress made in the Obama administration.
“The Democratic Party stands with LGBTQ communities in America and around the world,” Perez concluded. “We believe that no one should face discrimination, bullying, or violence because of who they are or who they love. And we will never stop fighting for the equality every human being deserves.”
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National Gay Media Association.