President Obama has declared June "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month," becoming the first U.S. president to include bisexual and transgender in the proclamation's title.
In a difficult-to-find declaration posted on the White House Web site on June 1, Obama praised LGBT Americans for their continual "great and lasting contributions" that "strengthen the fabric of American society."
He vowed to support measures to "bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans," including enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions, ensuring gay adoption rights, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, and ending the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military.
"These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation," the presidential proclamation reads. "As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected.
He added, "If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit."
Obama follows in the footsteps of former President Bill Clinton who also issued a similar proclamation in 1999 and 2000. But Clinton did not use the term transgender in his version. He did, however, reference bisexuals.
President George W. Bush, in contrast, did not issue any LGBT proclamation during his eight years in office.
Several Christian leaders have criticized the proclamation, including Bob Stith of the Southern Baptist Convention. Stith told Baptist Press that the proclamation encourages "pride in what God clearly says is sin."
"The bottom line," said Stith, who is SBC's representative for the Task Force on Ministry to Homosexuals, "is that if God defines something as sin, we do no one any favors by attempting to blur those lines. Nor will we be doing future generations any favors by obliterating barriers God has put up for our protection."
June is traditionally recognized by the homosexual community as "Gay Pride Month" in commemoration of the Stonewall Inn incident in June 1969. On June 28, 1969, gays and lesbians fought against a police raid that took place at Stonewall Inn in New York City. The incident is widely held to be the first time that the gay community fought against a government entity in American history, and is considered the starting point of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
In the proclamation, President Obama lauded the LGBT rights movement for their determination that has allowed more LGBT Americans to live openly today than ever before. He also said he is "proud" to be the first president to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration.