By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
President Barack Obama’s declaration of Family Day for 2009 included an historic reference. For the first time in the nation’s history, it recognized same-sex parents.
In the proclamation, which declares Sept. 28 to be Family Day, the president says: “Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things.”
This is an historic break from the past. For instance, President George W. Bush’s procomations always emphasized traditional family values.
In the 2005 proclamation, the former president wrote: “Parents and family are a bedrock of love and support, and my Administration is committed to strengthening families. My 2006 budget proposes $240 million for initiatives that promote responsible fatherhood and encourage healthy marriages.”
Last year’s proclamation, issued on Sept. 19, 2008, again stressed traditional family values and virtues. “Strong families are essential to the well-being of our Nation. On Family Day, we celebrate the relationship between parents and their children, and we recognize the importance of families spending time together. As a source of hope, guidance, stability, and love for every generation, families both teach and exemplify the values and virtues needed in today’s changing world.”
Writing about Obama’s proclamation in the Wall Street Journal, Louise Radnofsky said presidents have always used their ceremonial functions to send social messages. “(A)nd same-sex parents have been trying to get the president’s attention ever since some activists brought their children to the Bush White House’s Easter Egg Roll in 2006,” she writes. “The Obamas, sensitive to criticism that the administration has not acted on key gay-rights issues, officially invited gay families to their holiday event earlier this year.”
These types of ceremonial gestures do little to satisfy gay activists who supported Obama on the basis of his campaign promise to be a “fierce advocate” for LGBT rights. They complain that he has thus far not repealed the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and is defending the Defense of Marriage Act in a case currently playing out in the California courts.
In spite of his consistent support for equal rights for homosexuals, activists claim this support is mostly rhetorical with no decisive action to back it up.
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