Barack Obama gives a nod to same-sex couples in his Family Day proclamation
In an official proclamation this afternoon, President Obama declared today Family Day 2009.
What is significant is the way he defined "family."
The president gave a nod to the gay community when he praised all families, "whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian." (Emphasis ours.)
His shout-out to same-sex couples is sure to draw heat from some social conservatives. Interestingly, it has been met with some hostility from gay rights activists too.
One commenter on gay blogger Pam Spaulding's website called today's statement "honeyed words, easy to say."
"Mr. President," the commenter asked, "when are you going to actually DO something for same-sex couples and their children? Other than make ceremonial proclamations, that is."
Obama's proclamation has fueled an ongoing debate among gay rights activists about whether the president is living up to his promise that he would be a "fierce advocate" for LGBT equality.
Many gay rights activists greeted...
...Obama's inauguration with optimism. But some complain that he has made no significant efforts to further their cause.
They point out that since taking office, Obama has not moved to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy. And his administration has defended the Defense of Marriage Act, which says that states don't have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and that the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage.
The president's support for gay rights, they argue, has not been reflected in policy decisions, but has been purely rhetorical. In April, Obama made a point of inviting gay families to the Easter Egg Roll at the White House. And in June, the president declared it Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.
Other bloggers have voiced support for the president's agenda. They note that in June, Obama ordered federal agencies to "extend the benefits they have respectively identified to qualified same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees" where possible under current law.
The text of the Family Day proclamation appears below.
-- Kate Linthicum
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Our family provides one of the strongest influences on our
lives. American families from every walk of life have taught us
time and again that children raised in loving, caring homes have
the ability to reject negative behaviors and reach their highest
potential. 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. Today, our children are confronting issues of drug and
alcohol use with astonishing regularity. On Family Day, we
honor the dedication of parents, commend the achievements of
their children, and celebrate the contributions our Nation's
families have made to combat substance abuse among young people.
The 21st century presents families with unprecedented
challenges. Millions of women and men are struggling to balance
the demands of their jobs with the needs of their families.
At the same time, our youngest generation faces countless
distractions in their social environment. They are coming
of age in a world where electronic devices have replaced the
playground, televisions have preempted conversation, and
pressure to use drug and alcohol is far too prevalent. Parents
bear significant stress and burdens to protect their children
from harmful influences.
It is our responsibility to talk with adolescents about the
risks of abusing alcohol, tobacco, or prescription and illicit
drugs, and other harmful behaviors. These substances can
destroy the mind, body, and spirit of a child, jeopardizing
their health and limiting their potential. Active parents,
voicing their disapproval of drug use, have proven themselves
to be the most effective preventative method for keeping our
children drug-free. A strong and engaged family can make all
the difference in helping young people make healthy decisions.
By coming together as a family and discussing the events
of the day, parents can foster open communication, share joys
and concerns, and help guide their children toward healthy
decisionmaking. A strong nation is made up of strong families,
and on this Family Day, we rededicate ourselves to ensuring that
every American family has the chance to build a better,
healthier future for themselves and their children.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the
United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in
me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do
hereby proclaim September 28, 2009, as Family Day. I call upon
the people of the United States to join together in observing
this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities to honor and
strengthen our Nation's families.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-eighth day of September, in the year of our Lord
two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States
of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.