Cabinet Officials Defy White House, Host Gay Pride Programs

July 7, 2008 - 7:03 PM

(CNSNews.com) - When President George Bush refused to formally recognize Gay Pride Month earlier in June, cabinet members and executive offices didn't take the hint and fall in step with the White House.

Instead of dropping their offices' homosexual-rights celebrations, they picked up where they left off last year, when President Bill Clinton openly endorsed Gay Pride Month.

"I think it shows there are a number of gay and lesbian federal employees," said David Elliott, spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Proclamation or no proclamation, they're not going to be driven into the closet."

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta spoke last week at his department's "Embrace Diversity" program, and Interior Secretary Gale Norton is hosting a one-day celebration this week. That goes along with observances in nearly every other department - some sanctioned by cabinet chiefs, some not.

"From what I understand," said David Smith, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, "most agencies are sponsoring gay pride in some way or another."

And while some wonder if that stance clashes with the White House, most departments agree they're not purposely trying to spurn the president. Instead, they say, they're simply honoring equal opportunity.

"Clearly, [Bush] hasn't stopped federal agencies from making their own plans," Interior Department spokeswoman Stephanie Hanna said.

The president has, however, kept his own executive office from sponsoring gay-pride programs.

"The president believes every person should be treated with dignity and respect," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters earlier this month, "but he does not believe in politicizing people's sexual orientation."

Perhaps, but critics have questioned Bush's refusal to touch the homosexual issue after he's signed proclamations recognizing Black History Month, Women's History Month and Irish-American Heritage Month.

"My question back to them is: 'Is it OK to politicize race, nationality or gender?'" Smith said.

White House spokesman Jimmy Orr failed to return phone messages from CNSNews.com and could not be reached for comment.