December 2, 2020 at 4:23 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
McEnany falsely claims Trump first to adorn White House with red ribbon for World AIDS Day
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany had no comment on why Trump didn’t include LGBTQ people in his World AIDS Day statement. (White House photo by Joyce Boghosian)

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany falsely said Wednesday that President Trump was the first to adorn the White House with a red ribbon commemorating World AIDS Day, dodging a question from the Washington Blade on why he omitted any reference to LGBTQ people from his proclamation.

“The president honored World AIDS Day yesterday in a way that no president has before with the red ribbon there, and I think he commemorated the day as he should,” McEnany said.

As pointed out by ABC News’ Karen Travers on Twitter, Trump wasn’t the first president to use the red ribbon. Both former President Obama and former President George W. Bush hung red ribbons on the White House during their administrations to mark World AIDS Day.

The Blade sought to press McEnany for a clear answer on why LGBTQ people were omitted from Trump’s World AIDS Day proclamation, but she refused to answer and instead took a question from the pro-Trump One America News Network.

McEnany didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request to comment via email whether she stands by her remarks on the red ribbon.

Trump has never referenced LGBTQ people in any of his World AIDS Day statements. Although Trump’s recognition of “racial and ethnic minorities” this year is a step up from previous statements, which failed to recognize HIV/AIDS as a social justice issue in any capacity and not just a disease, Trump has declined to offer that recognition to LGBTQ people.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement to the Washington Blade on Wednesday the omission of LGBTQ people from Trump’s World AIDS Day statement “is tone-deaf and offensive.”

“Since taking office, the administration has prioritized undermining the rights and well-being of the LGBTQ community, including those living with HIV and AIDS,” David added. “LGBTQ people in the United States and around the world continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS, especially Black and Latinx members of the community.”

David looked to the upcoming Biden administration, when he said things would change. Biden made an explicit reference to LGBTQ survivors in his World AIDS Day statement.

“To end the HIV epidemic, we must uplift the voices of those who have been affected and commit to end the stigma that still surrounds HIV,” David said. “Thankfully, we will have a new administration that not only recognizes the existence and dignity of LGBTQ people, including those living with HIV, but advances policies to prevent the spread of HIV.”  

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

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