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White House Takes Credit for Bush-Era World AIDS Day Commemoration

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday December 4, 2020

The White House has shamelessly taken credit for honoring World AIDS Day "in a way that no president has before," according to Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, People reports.

McEnany was responding to a question by Chris Johnson of The Washington Post about why Trump issued a World AIDS Day proclamation that "omitted any reference to LGBTQ people, even though they bear the brunt of HIV/AIDS." McEnany also pointed out the giant red ribbon — a symbol for all the lives lost to AIDS — outside of the White House, which is actually a tradition pre-dating the current administration, going back to the administrations of his two predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Incidentally, Trump's 2019 proclamation also failed to mention the specific impact of HIV/AIDS on LGBTQ people.

During his first campaign, Trump promised to be an ally to the LGBTQ community. Yet, after taking office, the Trump administration removed LGBTQ content from federal websites, including information on the National HIV/AIDS strategy.

And while in office, the Trump administration has regularly rolled back LGBTQ rights and protections. Meanwhile, a very slim group of LGBTQ supporters — such as Log Cabin Republicans and openly gay former diplomat Richard Grenell — confoundingly champion Trump as an ally to the community.

First Lady Melania Trump reportedly wanted to light up the White House in rainbow colors to honor Pride month, but was rebuffed by Mark Meadows, the President's anti-LGBTQ Chief of Staff. Yet another missed opportunity for the current President to extend a hand to the LGBTQ community, even symbolically, while continuing to reach out to anti-LGBTQ Evangelicals. And doubtlessly, a missed opportunity to claim credit for the work of a predecessor — perhaps Melania should have told her husband President Obama's White House was lit with Pride lights in June 2015.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.