Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau won some new LGBT fans following his recent pledge to march in an upcoming Pride parade — something President Obama hasn’t committed to doing, despite his strong support for LGBT rights.
Ahead of Trudeau’s state visit to Washington this week, the Washington Blade asked during the White House news briefing if Obama would be open during his final year in office to marching in a Pride parade, such as the upcoming Capital Pride parade in June in D.C..
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was non-committal in his response: “I have not heard of a presidential commitment like that. My guess is it would not be the first time that he’s marched in a Pride parade.”
When the Blade interjected by saying Obama hasn’t marched in a parade during his eight years in office, Earnest replied, “Probably as president, but not the first time that has done that.”
“I don’t have any scheduling updates for you at this point, but if this is something the president chooses to do, we’ll definitely let you know,” Earnest said.
The Blade is unaware of any time Obama has marched in a Pride parade either during his presidency or during his previous roles as a U.S. senator or a state senator in Illinois. If Obama were to march in a Pride parade, he would be the first sitting U.S. president to do so.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are scheduled on Thursday to welcome Trudeau and his wife Gregoire Trudeau to the White House for an official visit with a state dinner.
Last month, Trudeau announced he would take part in the Toronto Pride Parade, which is set to take place on July 3. Marching in the event will make Trudeau the first Canadian prime minister to march in a Pride parade.
Bernie Delia, board president of the Capital Pride Alliance, said he’d welcome Obama’s participation in either the parade or festival for D.C.’s Capital Pride in June.
“The president and his administration have been strong supporters of equality for members of the LGBT community, and he and Vice President Biden have matched their words with deeds and actions on a number of fronts, including marriage equality,” Delia said. “We welcome all people who share our core beliefs to join us as we celebrate the many successes of the community and as we prepare to undertake the work that is not yet accomplished.”
Delia added that Obama’s schedule and security requirements are two issues that have likely prevented him from participating in Capital Pride.
Brett Hayhoe, co-president of the Australia-based international Pride organization InterPride, said he welcomes Trudeau’s decision to march in Toronto Pride and would support a similar gesture from Obama.
“Throughout the entire time President Obama has been in office, he has constantly shown support for our community, including publicly declaring June each year Pride Month and having a leading hand in significant legislative change to remove discriminatory government policy against the LGBTI community,” Hayhoe said. “Given this sincere support for all citizens of the USA, his participation at a Pride march or parade would be extremely welcomed by the Pride community. It would indeed be a fitting gesture in his final year of tenure.”