Tag Archives: President Obama

Obama Awards Ellen DeGeneres Presidential Medal Of Freedom

This week, President Obama named Ellen DeGeneres as one of the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom recognises people who have made “especially meritorious contributions” to the US, the White House said, and is seen as the highest honour a civilian can receive in the US.

In a statement, he said the medal was a “tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better”.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor – it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better. From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”

Obama will honour the 20 other people at a ceremony.

Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Diana Ross and Robert Redford are among the other honourees from the entertainment world.

Bill and Melinda Gates and Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels will also be recognised.

New York’s Stonewall Inn Could Become a National Park

In 1969, The Stonewall Inn in New York City was the site of the revolutionary riots that helped to birth the modern LGBTQ rights movement that we know today.

As police raided the popular LGBTQ establishment, many of The Stonewall Inn’s patrons took a stand against the police’s policing of their identities as well as against the Mafia, who, at the time, owned the bar.

Following the initial clashes between protesters, patrons and LGBTQ bystanders and the three ensuing days of riots, many LGBTQ rights organisations were formed as people looked to take serious action against a society that had, for the longest time, oppressed them.

1970 saw the first gay pride parades take place and from here on, huge leaps and bounds have been made in terms of support for sexuality and gender identity.

The Stonewall Inn is already a registered landmark but two lawmakers, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Jerrold Nadle, want to cement its place in history even further.

Recently speaking to government officials and activists at a gathering in front of The Stonewall Inn, Nadle told attendees that “we must have federal recognition of the LGBT movement’s history and origins and ensure that this piece of LGBT history is preserved for future generations” and that “without presidential action the park proposal would face “a long and uncertain road, as so many things are in Congress today.”

History is on their side as previous human rights locations, such as Seneca Falls (a national park for women’s rights) and the Selma/Montgomery trail (a national park for black civil rights) have been granted the honour.

Plus, President Obama has previously name-checked The Stonewall Inn, acknowledging its importance alongside Selma and Seneca. Nadle hopes that “[Obama will] be here to inaugurate it”.

This national park campaign comes as Stonewall, the Roland Emmerich film about the riots, receives heavy criticism for failing to acknowledge the trans women of colour and black lesbians who played a huge part in the riots, instead making the protagonist of the film a fictional white, gay man.

Although the film may not be accurate, hopefully the national park push will lead many people to learn more about the historical site and the events that (really) took place there.



Obama Opens Cleveland’s Gay Games with Supportive Video Message

President Barack Obama has helped kick off the international Gay Games in Cleveland with a video message, which was shown at the opening ceremonies. In the video, he welcomed athletes, coaches, families and spectators from around the world to Ohio and the United States.

The president said the United States has come a long way in its commitment to equal rights for LGBT people. He also noted that some athletes come from places where publicly acknowledging their sexual orientation can put them at risk.

He affirmed the United States’ commitment to standing ‘with you and for your human rights’.

Watch Obama’s message:

President Obama Signs Executive Orders to Protect LGBT Employees From Federal Workplace Discrimination

President Barack Obama has given employment protection to gay and transgender workers in the federal government and its contracting agencies, after being convinced by advocates of what he called the “irrefutable rightness of your cause.”

At a signing ceremony from the White House East Room, Obama said it’s unacceptable that being gay is still a firing offense in most places in the United States.

It’s not just about doing the right thing, it’s also about attracting and retaining the best talent”

President Barack Obama

Obama signs order 01

Until last month, Obama long resisted pressure to pursue an executive anti-discrimination covering federal contractors in the hope that Congress would take more sweeping action banning anti-LGBT workplace discrimination across the landscape of employment in America. A bill to accomplish that goal – the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – passed the Senate last year with some Republican support, but has not been taken up by the GOP-controlled House.

Since Obama announced that he would sign the orders, he’s faced pressure from opposing flanks over whether he would include an exemption for religious organizations. He decided to maintain a provision that allows religious groups with federal contracts to hire and fire based upon religious identity, but not give them any exception to consider sexual orientation or gender identity. Churches also are able to hire ministers as they see fit.

Obama’s action comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Hobby Lobby case that allowed some religiously oriented businesses to opt out of the federal health care law’s requirement that contraception coverage be provided to workers at no extra charge. Obama advisers said that ruling has no impact on non-discrimination policies in federal hiring and contracting.

Obama said 18 states and more than 200 local governments already ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as a majority of Fortune 500 companies. But he noted that more states allow same-sex marriage than prohibit gay discrimination in hiring.

The change for federal contracting will impact some 24,000 companies with 28 million workers, or one-fifth of the U.S. workforce. Many large federal contractors already have employment policies barring anti-gay workplace discrimination. However, the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School estimates that the executive order would extend protections to about 14 million workers whose employers or states currently do not have such nondiscrimination policies.

While few religious organizations are among the biggest federal contractors, they do provide some valued services, including overseas relief and development programs and re-entry programs for inmates leaving federal prisons.

Obama amended two executive orders. The first, signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965, prohibits federal contractors from discriminating based on race, religion, gender or nationality in hiring. President George W. Bush had amended Johnson’s order in 2002 to add the exemption for religious groups.

Obama added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protections, and ordered the Labor Department to carry out the order. Administration officials said that means the change will probably take effect by early next year.

Obama also amended an order signed by President Richard Nixon in 1969 to prevent discrimination against federal workers based on race, religion, gender, nationality, age or disability. President Bill Clinton added sexual orientation, and Obama will include gender identity in a change that will immediately take effect.

Another Day, Another Controversial Joan Rivers Quote

Another day, another controversial Joan Rivers quote. It seems that the incendiary comedian is at it again (when she’s not tearing down people’s outfits or appearances on E!’s Fashion police) as she’s now turned her attention from the Hollywood, red carpet attending populous to the President and the First Lady of the United States.

According to Rivers, President Obama is gay, with her words fired off to a journalist who asked her if we’d ever see a gay or lesbian president. “We already have it with Obama” was her response (which was subsequently captured on video below).

Although despite her suggesting that he’s unfortunately closeted and is in no way to be open or proud about his sexuality, it did seem to be more of a pointed barb in the Pres’ direction. She was invalidating his sexuality as a (seemingly) straight man in a (seemingly) happy marriage with Michelle Obama. A woman who, Rivers says, is transgender. “You know Michelle is a tr*nny. A transgender. We all know” Rivers continued, firing off the incredibly offensive transgender slur like it was anything but.

This isn’t the first time Rivers has landed herself in hot water either as last year TMZ asked her about MSNBC’s firing of Alec Baldwin (prior to his homophobic rant) and she chose to defend him, hurling a string of racist and homophobic slurs in succession, covering Chinese people, gay people, black people and plenty other identities too for good, offensive measure.

This is even despite the fact that she has actually been outspoken in support of the LGBT community, with the comedian even attending a gay marriage earlier in the week. Interestingly enough though, both MSNBC and E! (the network which Fashion Police airs on) are owned by the same parent company so whether the backlash of Rivers’ recent statements see her fired too will have to be seen.

Obama Signs Executive Order to Protect LGBTQ Federal Employees

By definition, an executive order is “a rule or order issued by the president to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law”. Rather than our run of the mill laws that stop us from doing things like sticking up an entire supermarket for its ice cream sandwiches or bursting every fire hydrant on the street in the name of ‘Summer hydration’, executive orders simply tell certain parts of the United States government how they’re meant to do their jobs. Last week, that meant that United States President Barack Obama signed an executive order to bar federal contractors (business that have contracts with the United States to complete certain jobs or tasks) from discriminating against their hired workers on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity. That was a groundbreaking move as it meant that LGBTQ workers would be further protected but with questions being asked about the protections for LGBTQ workers employed directly by the United States government, Obama has swiftly silenced doubters.

How did he do this? With another executive order! Being the President sure has its benefits and now the advantages of this are being extended to LGBTQ federal employees as the second historic executive order signed by the man in charge of the USA sees anti-discrimination protection extended to those too. What the executive order covers is a great deal of things and it means that finally, LGBTQ federal employees (this includes those who are transgender or gender non-conforming if the binary isn’t your thing) cannot be fired, denied promotion, or passed up on being hired based on gender identity or sexual orientation. In short, it means that everyone on the government’s payroll in some way, shape or form can get on with the jobs they intended to do without the laws holding them down!

In a speech that got laughs, smiles and even applause as President Obama detailed all of the positive things that his country had succeeded in passing (removing the Defense of Marriage Act and the same-gender marriage victories were both mentioned), he also explained that a large aspect of his decision to make these executive orders is because Congress, often halted by Republican opposition to more progressive laws, has failed to do so,

“The majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies to protect their employees because it’s the right thing to do and because many say it helps to retain and attract the best talent. And I agree. So if Congress won’t act, I will. I have directed my staff to prepare an executive order for my signature that prohibits discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. (Applause.)”

Granted, there’s still a long way to go yet but hopefully with Obama signing incredibly important executive orders left and right, Congress and politicians on a state level will get it together and follow suit too.