Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dr. Jill Biden headlines GLSEN awards

Hours after the White House released a proclamation to commemorate LGBT Pride month, Dr. Jill Biden headlined the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Educators Network's annual Respect Awards ceremony at Gotham Hall last night.

She spoke about the anti-LGBT bullying many students in this country continue to face. Biden also reaffirmed what she described as the White House's continued commitment to "ensure every child has a safe school." And she further pointed out the administration had appointed GLSEN founder Kevin Jennings to head the Department of Education's Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.

"Each child, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves an education," Biden said.

Biden received a standing ovation from those gathered inside Gotham Hall. GLSEN executive director Dr. Eliza Byard even described the Second Lady as "a true advocate for all American children," but simmering criticisms the White House has not done enough to adequately advocate on behalf of LGBT rights came to the surface.

Mitchell Gold criticized both the President and Vice President for opposing marriage for same-sex couples on religious grounds. His comments generated an enthusiastic applause among many attendees. And the comments clearly highlight the growing angst among a growing number of activists within the LGBT movement over how they feel the administration has failed to adequately address these issues.

An argument can be made the White House must devote its resources to tackle the ongoing recession, an exit strategy in Iraq and a way forward to combat Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. A converse argument is the administration can do more than issue a Presidential proclamation at the start of LGBT Pride month. The Second Lady's remarks to GLSEN supporters are certainly encouraging, but it is arguable time the administration steps up to the plate and prove it has earned the respect--and most importantly support of the LGBT Americans who helped to vote it into office last November.

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