WASHINGTON — President Obama marked the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia today “by reaffirming the dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity.”
“Our nation is committed to the principle that all people should be treated fairly and with respect,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world.”
“I am also proud of the great strides that our nation has made at home in recent years, including that we now have marriage equality as a result of last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision.”
Obama added that “at the same time, there is much work to be done to combat homophobia and transphobia, both at home and abroad.”
“In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination, and violence,” he said. “All nations and all communities can, and must, do better. Fortunately, human rights champions and good citizens around the world continue to strive towards this goal every day by lifting up the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights.”
“The United States honors their work and will continue to support them in their struggle for human dignity.”
At Monday’s briefing, White House press secretary Josh Earnest was asked if the administration — critical of blocks of transgender access to bathrooms and the like — would “apply the same standard” in allowing transgender service members to serve openly, a policy the Pentagon has under review.
“I think that we have long acknowledged, even on issues that are relevant to the LGBT community, that ensuring the effective implementation of policies at the Department of Defense has higher stakes than it may in other government agencies,” Earnest said.
“We’re talking about our basic national security. And what the secretary of Defense has concluded — and the president agrees — is that qualified American citizens should not be denied an opportunity to serve their country just because of who they are or who they love. Our national security is enhanced when we can draw upon the skills and expertise and patriotism of every American,” he added.
“And that’s part of what motivated Secretary Carter to conduct this review and seek the smooth implementation of a policy that would allow transgender Americans — again, who meet the relevant qualifications — to serve our country. But the smooth and effective implementation of this policy is not insignificant. And what Secretary Carter and the other services are conscientiously moving forward to do is to figure out the best way to settle on a policy and implement it effectively and as expeditiously as possible. And that’s what they continue to work on.”