Congressional Democrats sent a pair of letters — one from U.S. House members, the other from U.S. senators — to President Trump late Friday lambasting him for not issuing a proclamation recognizing June as Pride month.
The House letter, signed by 53 Democrats, was led by Rep. Donald Norcross (D-N.J.). The other letter — led by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) — was signed by 19 U.S. senators.
“The White House’s decision to remain silent about Pride Month after eight consecutive years of presidential recognition sends a troubling message to the LGBT community that your administration is not committed to advancing equality for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” the letters say. “We urge you to honor your campaign promise to be a ‘real friend’ of the LGBT community by issuing a proclamations and supporting lasting change and progress through policies that advance LGBT rights.”
As the Blade reported at the start of June, Trump issued proclamations designating June for five other occasions, such as National Homeownership Month, but made no recognition of Pride.
The absence of a Pride proclamation from Trump scraps a tradition started under President Clinton and renewed under President Obama of issuing a proclamation in June observing Pride.
However, first daughter Ivanka Trump on Twitter called for a “joyful” Pride and recognized the contributions of LGBT people to the United States. On the anniversary of the Pulse shooting on June 12, Trump tweeted out an image of the 49 people killed at the gay nightclub, urging his followers to “never forget” the incident.
In addition to expressing “dismay by this slight” of not issuing a Pride proclamation, the lawmakers accuse Trump of “threatening to turn the clock back on LGBT rights in this country,” identifying several “worrisome” actions.
“These have included withdrawing the Department of Justice from at least one LGBT-related court case, issuing an anti-LGBT executive order purporting to protect religious freedom, and rescinding guidance clarifying protections for transgender students,” the letters say. “We urge you to fulfill the promise of equal rights for all Americans by supporting policies and legislation that would advance LGBT equality.”
The Justice Department under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew its challenge to North Carolina’s House Bill 2 after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper replaced it with a law LGBT advocates say is still discriminatory.
Trump’s “religious freedom” executive order was aimed at fulfilling a campaign pledge to repeal the Johnson Amendment and empowers the attorney general to act in favor of “religious freedom.” Although the letter is silent on LGBT issues, critics have said it lays the groundwork for Sessions to enable anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom.”
The Trump administration earlier this year revoked Obama-era guidance assuring transgender kids access to school restrooms consistent with the gender identity. On the same day lawmakers sent the letter to Trump condemning the absence of a Pride proclamation, news broke the Department of Education had replaced that guidance with new rules asserting protections for transgender students, although that guidance offers no assurances for bathroom use.
The Washington Blade has placed a request in with the White House seeking comment on congressional Democrats’ letters condemning him for not issuing a Pride proclamation.