Will Trump, gov’t agencies recognize Pride month?

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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Picture it: President Trump enters the East Room of the White House on a warm D.C. day in June to the sound of cheers from adoring members of the LGBT community holding up their iPhones to document the occasion with videos and photos.

With his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner at his side, Trump welcomes guests and commemorates June as Pride month by recognizing the LGBT community’s accomplishments in recent years.

Having trouble with this image? It could be because of the anti-LGBT positions and actions Trump and his administration have taken or perhaps because such an event would anger anti-LGBT groups that supported his election. It could be because instead of cheering him, LGBT people angered by his policies would boo Trump out of the room.

It might also be because recent reports Trump may have abused executive power or committed obstruction of justice raise questions about whether Trump will even be president in June.

Assuming Trump remains in office, it remains to be seen what steps he’ll take, if any, to recognize June as Pride month. Kelly Love, a White House spokesperson, said via email when asked if Trump would issue a Pride proclamation or host a White House Pride reception, “We will let you know as soon as we announce our June proclamations.”

During the 2016 election, Trump in an interview with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl said he’d “look into” whether he could issue a proclamation as president recognizing June as Pride month, essentially dodging the question.

“I would look into it,” Trump said. “And I feel so badly what happened [in Orlando]. And we have to do something about it.”

President Clinton started the tradition of issuing a proclamation to recognize June as Pride month. Although President George W. Bush discontinued that tradition, it was renewed by President Obama, who also in each of his years in office held a White House reception to celebrate Pride with members of the LGBT community.

If Trump were to continue the recognition of June as Pride month with either a proclamation or a reception, he would be the first Republican president to do so. It would also be consistent with his claims during the presidential campaign that he’s a bigger friend to LGBT people than his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, said his group — largely alone among LGBT organizations that support and interact with the Trump administration — has proposed the idea of Trump recognizing Pride, but no commitments were made.

“The suggestion has been formally made to the White House,” Angelo said. “Conversations are ongoing. It’s too soon to comment further.”

Given Trump’s predilection for photo ops — such as the pictures he’s taken with business leaders and presidents of historically black colleges — one possibility for Trump recognizing Pride is a shot of him in the Oval Office with Angelo and high-profile LGBT people who supported him like Peter Thiel, Caitlyn Jenner or Ric Grenell.

It’s not just whether Trump will recognize Pride that remains in question. In years past, the affinity groups for LGBT workers at federal departments hosted Pride celebrations.

Some of those celebrations were newer than others. The Pride celebration at the Pentagon only came about after “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal in 2010, but celebrations at the U.S. Justice Department occurred even during the Bush administration and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey addressed LGBT employees in 2008. By the end of last year, virtually each of the departments had some kind of celebration.

Under the Obama administration, the heads of the departments were featured speakers at the Pride events and delivered remarks in solidarity with LGBT people. It’s certainly hard to imagine Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressing LGBT employees at the Justice Department.

The Washington Blade reached out to multiple affinity groups for LGBT federal workers, but — perhaps in a sign of fear of reprisal — they were largely silent on plans for Pride celebrations with June just a few weeks away. FedQ, the umbrella organization for the groups, didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.

John Elias, president of DOJ Pride, was the only head of an LGBT affinity group to respond to the Blade’s request and would say only that plans are underway for some kind of Pride recognition.

“The Department’s LGBT Pride Month Observance Program is in the planning phase,” Elias said. “I expect the format will remain as it has been in recent years.”

Elias didn’t respond to a follow-up email on whether that meant Sessions would be invited to speak at the event and if he planned on attending as Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch did under the Obama administration.

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