March 7, 2016 at 4:51 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Trudeau commits to marching in Pride parade, but not Obama
Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau, gay news, Washington Blade

From left, President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Washington Blade photo of Obama by Lee Whitman; photo of Trudeau by Alex Guibord courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

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.”

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

  • Just a clarification, Trudeau would not be the first Prime Minister to march in a pride parade, but rather the first sitting PM to do so. Former PM Joe Clark was the parade marshal for Calgary Pride in 2001 when he was leader of the opposition Progressive Conservatives.

  • Too many politicians use and abuse annual Pride Parades as a means to visibly proclaim how LGBT-friendly they are. But then they spend the rest of the year doing nothing on behalf of LGBTQ rights and interests.

    Worse still, some of these hypocrite politicians act and/or vote against LGBT interests and public safety– or tell homophobic lies, and/or discriminate against LGBT nominees.

    The Council Chair is second-highest elected position in DC’s government. Accordingly, Council Chairpersons ought not lead the Council in ways that clearly discriminate against LGBT people, LGBT businesses and their LGBT patrons.

    Currently, on the DC Council, Mendelson’s unfair discrimination against the David Franco Zoning Commission nomination ought be noted.

    Likewise, Mendo’s years of hypocritical negligence of public safety and working against an MPD force strength sufficient to match DC’s explosive population growth has adversely impacted LGBTQ public safety. Mind’s negligence has helped deny public safety, policing services and criminal justice for DC’s anti-LGBT hate crime victims.

    Ward 5 Councilmember (and mayor-wannabe) Kenyan McDuffie wraps himself in a rainbow flag every year and even promtotes “HIS” Pride Parade contingent. But as Mendelson’s appointment as Chair of Council’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, McDuffie has done little or nothing for LGBT public safety.

    The truth is, ‘Pride-guy’ McDuffie has made public safety for DC’s LGBTQ residents and visitors much worse. The Blade has already reported on how MPD’s LGBT Liaison Unit (formerly, ‘GLLU’) has repeatedly had its LGBT-policing and protection related services cut back to nearly nothing at all.

    Moreover, for the past several months, McDuffie has been selling DC’s gullible Council on his “Crime Pays $9,000” law– a protection racket scheme to keep DC’s young violent offenders out of jail and good… until their $9,000 payoffs get spent.

    Here’s the rub for anyone who cares about LGBTQ public safety in DC. Pride-Parade-politician McDuffie was only too happy to sell Council on this unproven crime-encouragement scheme using a homophobic lie– against the reputation of a nationally-known, openly gay police chief, Chris Magnus.

    McDuffie claims that a similar $9,000 reward/ protection racket was used successfully in Richmond CA which resulted in Richmond CA’s reduction in homicides.

    But here’s the truth…

    McDuffie’s “expert” opinion cited for the Richmond program’s alleged “success” came originally from the few people who designed, directed and/or got paid for Richmond’s criminal reward boondoggle.

    That obvious conflict of interest should have made McDuffie’s claim suspect to savvy DC council members right away.

    Then there is the apparent fact that 21% of Richmond’s participants were suspected of gun-related crimes– in spite of their $9,000 rewards for “being good.” Apparently, 16% were shot, and 4 reportedly died during their time in that dubious giveaway program.

    Most unbiased reporters/ observers gave openly-gay former Police Chief Chris Magnus, and his robust Community Policing model credit for Richmond CA’s homicide and violent crime– as did Yahoo News and Katie Couric last September…
    **Richmond, California: Community policing done right**

    DC LGBT residents and visitors ought to remember McDuffie’s use of a massive homophobic lie to Council– and Mendelson de facto support of same– when they make another big show at Pride this year.

    Area LGBTs also ought to recall all the terrifying, anti-LGBTQ hate crimes on Metrorail in recent years, as well.

    LGBTQs Pride Parade-goers ought remember that Mendelson and McDuffie found homophobic, hypocritical excuses to block Jack Evans’ attempt to stop those anti-LGBT hate crimes on Metrorail.

    Let’s not trust every politician we see marching in a Pride Parade.

  • All Chris Johnson has done during this administration is WHINE!

  • Hilary Clinton marched in the NYC Pride parade every year that she was the NY senator and even before as First Lady. So logistics aside she could be the first sitting US president to march at Pride if Obama demurs this year.

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