ABC News' Jon Garcia Reports:
As he did last year, Obama today declared June "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month." But this year the announcement comes as Congress began moving to repeal the controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy used by the US military when dealing LGBT service members.
President Obama hailed the Congressional moves, writing in a statement: “Our military is made up of the best and bravest men and women in our nation, and my greatest honor is leading them as Commander-in-Chief. This legislation will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity.”
The Senate Armed Services Committee passed an amendment that would do away with the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and allow LGBT service members to serve openly, without fear of being discharged. The House of Representatives is expected to pass similar legislation.
“The legislation, the compromise that was worked out at the White House, is respectful of the fact that there is a review going on, speaking at all levels to the military across the country and in theater about how we should go forward,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.
Under the compromise, the policy will not take effect until after the Pentagon has concluded its’ review of how the policy change might have an impact on the armed forces and how it can be implemented. That review is scheduled to be finished by December.
The LGBT Pride Month proclamation declares that Americans “renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists.”
Obama also listed the policies he’s pursued to benefit the LGBT community, including the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and anti-discrimination laws.
“As we honor the LGBT Americans who have given so much to our Nation, let us remember that if one of us is unable to realize full equality, we all fall short of our founding principles," Obama wrote.
"Our Nation draws its strength from our diversity, with each of us contributing to the greater whole. By affirming these rights and values, each American benefits from the further advancement of liberty and justice for all. … I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists."
Obama has come under criticism from gay and lesbian right groups who say he has not acted quickly enough on equality issues and legislation, as he promised during his presidential campaign.