January 27, 2012 at 7:37 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
White House to host LGBT conferences across country

The White House announced on Friday it plans to host a series of LGBT conferences throughout the country in early 2012 so the public can “hear directly” from the administration on efforts “to ensure health, well-being, security, justice, and equality for LGBT Americans.”

In a statement, the White House identified the White House LGBT Conference on Health — which will be held in Philadelphia on Feb. 16 — as the inaugural event for the initiative. The conference is set to feature remarks from Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

The statement says the events — which will take place from February to June 2012 — will be a collaboration between the White House Office of Public Engagement and other departments and agencies. Expected attendees include grassroots leaders, community organizers, advocates, students and others.

Future White House LGBT conferences after the initial event will be held in other places throughout the country. Topics are set to include housing and homelessness, safe schools and communities as well as HIV/AIDS prevention. According to the White House, more details will be made public later.

Fred Sainz, vice president of communications at the Human Rights Campaign, said the conferences are “a good sign that the administration is attentive to the needs of our community.”

Absent from the list of planned topics for discussion at the conferences is employment discrimination. No federal law prohibits workplace discrimination against LGBT people. Advocates have been pushing President Obama to issue an executive order barring federal dollars from going to contractors that lack LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies.

Asked whether one of these conferences would address employment discrimination, a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “The list of topics is not comprehensive.”

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

  • What more evidence do LGBT voters need of the commitment of this president to our call for equality? Considering the anti-gay rhetoric of the Teapublicans, it is clear we need to do everything in our power to ensure the re-election of Barack Obama, and it’s not just because he he has already lived up to every promise he made us and a whole lot more besides. The Affordable Health Care Act was the first step, but there has been winding down of US warmongering, ending the war in Iraq, presenting the American Jobs Act, and steady upturns in an economy devastated by the warmongering G.W. Bush.

    President Obama has more than lived up to his pre-election commitments to us. As promised in his first term, he has repealed DADT, orphaned DOMA, recorded YouTube “It Gets Better” videos together with Vie-President Joe Biden for suicidal LGBT youth, spoken at HRC conventions, held LGBT Receptions at the White House, promulgated a Memorandum on LGBT Rights from the White House – delivered at the United Nations by Hillary Clinton, and said he is opposed to states taking away rights from LGBT people.

    Supported by over 70% of respondents to a military survey, over 70% of the general population, passed by Congress and the Senate, backed by military chiefs and supported by the President and Vice President and their families, DADT repeal is here to stay, thanks to the backing of President Obama.

    If that’s not good enough for one term, then I doubt we’ll ever be satisfied.

    Republican 2012 presidential candidates on the other hand, are all badge-wearing homophobes wanting to pray away our gay, staunchly antagonistic to LGBT Rights, variously committed to reinstating DADT, upholding DOMA, and/or dissolving all existing and future same sex marriages in the entire country by seeking an amendment to the US Constitution. They’re also likely to stack the SCOTUS with anti-gay judges and abolish the 9th Circuit.

    The President is clearly onside, and he will get marriage equality done in his second term, if we’ll just let him have one. Let the man get elected already! He has far bigger fish to fry right now than just our LGBT issues. After all, he was elected to govern for all Americans, and we are self-declared at only 4% of the US population.

  • I am a huge proponent of Obama. Let’s face it, under any Republican, we will be forced backward. As far as Democrats go, he has to be our choice just because he IS the president and therefore, the Democratic nominee. I don’t think it’s a choice of who do we back in this election, but who are we gonna back when he can’t run anymore?

  • Would be ‘equal’ of Obama to choose to define marriage in America to include mine to my husband. When he does, he’s earned our vote, period.

  • Really? They plan to “ensure… equality for LGBT Americans”?? Right… I would vote for Obama again if he promised FULL federal equality in all areas for LGBT Americans… otherwise, I will NOT be voting for him again. Period. It feels weird to be so disrespected by the first African American President. I prefer a Federal Amendment banning and nullifying his and all other marriages performed by clergy of any kind. I’d vote for someone with THAT platform…

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