September 1, 2011 | by Chris Johnson
White House website could be used to petition Obama on LGBT issues

The White House (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The White House unveiled on Thursday a new addition to its website allowing interested parties to start and circulate petitions to urge the Obama administration to take action — including action on LGBT issues.

The new online engagement feature, titled We the People, enables individuals to create and sign petitions on a range of issues. Supporters of LGBT rights could, for example, urge President Obama to endorse marriage equality or issue an executive order prohibiting federal money from going to contractors that lack non-discrimination protections for LGBT workers.

“When I ran for this office, I pledged to make government more open and accountable to its citizens,” Obama said in a statement. “That’s what the new We the People feature on WhiteHouse.gov is all about – giving Americans a direct line to the White House on the issues and concerns that matter most to them.”

According to a White House statement, visitors can begin circulating petitions later this month. Those interested in starting a petition will need to create an account and gather names by reaching out to others.

A petition that reaches a certain threshold — which for now has been set at 5,000 signatures within 30 days — will be sent to the relevant policy makers throughout the administration. After review, an official response will be published to the White House website and emailed to all signers of the petition.

Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said the new online petition would be beneficial to the LGBT community.

“It’s great that there’s another way for members of our community to share their priorities with the white house,” Cole-Schwartz said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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