Obama backs equal rights to gays, but not same sex marriage

June 2nd, 2009 - 10:45 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 2 (IANS) President Barack Obama has promised to continue to “support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” (LGBT) Americans”, but stopped short of backing same-sex marriage.

Saying he’s “proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration,” Obama issued a presidential proclamation Monday in honour of LGBT Pride Month.

The proclamation marked the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City, often considered the launch of the US gay rights movement.

Mentioning his administration’s international efforts to decriminalise homosexuality, Obama voiced his support for measures like enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for gays and lesbians in the armed services.

“Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community,” the proclamation reads.

“Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.”

However to LGBT activists’ disappointment the equal justice under law did not include, in the president’s recitation, the controversial issue of same sex marriage, or what LGBT activists call “marriage equality.”

Obama also made no mention of when or how the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy - allowing gays and lesbians to join the armed services as long as they keep it to themselves - would end, though he said it would be done “in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security.

“As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected,” the president said. “If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a separate statement pledged to fight for gay rights and called on the world to stop discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation.

“As secretary of state, I will advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” she stated.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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