10182008obama_stonewall_posterThis month is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender month, and communities in the U.S.A. and around the world will undertake efforts to raise awareness, run anti-homophobia campaigns, and celebrate unique aspects of their culture in pride events. 

Why June?  This is the anniversary of the “Stonewall riots,” an uprising that took place 40 years ago at the Stonewall Inn in New York City — a popular hangout then for the city’s sexual and gender minorities.  On June 28, 1969, New York City Police began trying to arrest the Stonewall Inn’s patrons — an event that is widely taken as the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States and other countries who looked to this example.

The laws surrounding gay marriage and gay adoptions differ from state to state, and are often controversial.  President Obama has stated his commitment to achieving equal justice under the law for LGBT Americans.  In his proclamation for 2009, he stated:

The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done.   LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.

My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States. 

If  you are interested in learning more about the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world, there are some interesting materials available online — see this video from Newsweek, “From Stonewall to Proposition 8,” or this slideshow about gay rights movements around the world, and check back here for more information throughout the month of June.