For the record…
The following is an excerpt from a White House transcript of Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s daily press briefing August 7. In the exchange, Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson asks whether the gains made by LGBT people under President Obama might be threatened if a Republican wins the White House in 2016.
Q Josh, a question on the GOP debate last night. A number of the Republican candidates pledged to take unilateral actions if elected on behalf of (inaudible) seen to enable LGBT discrimination. And Mike Huckabee objected to the Pentagon’s plan on transgender service. And even though John Kasich expressed some nuance, all 17 candidates opposed same-sex marriage. If any one of these Republican candidates are elected to the White House, are the President’s advances for the LGBT community at risk?
- EARNEST: Well, Chris, I think that’s a hard thing to say. I think that so much of the progress that has been made is progress that a substantial number of Americans have come around to supporting. And I think that speaks to not just the critically important political progress that’s been made in this country on some of the issues that you’ve just cited, but in some ways I think you can make a pretty persuasive argument that at least as important as that is the social progress that’s been made in communities, large and small, across the country in which discussions of these issues are taking place outside the context of any sort of political election or partisan debate.
And it’s my view that at least some of that social progress would not have been possible without some political leadership. And that’s why the President is, justifiably, proud of his record. But the real power behind this change in the view of so many Americans, as we perfect our union, is the power of the American people and the significant change that we’ve seen in a relatively short period of time.
Q You can’t deny, though, a lot of this change is a result of the President taking action on these issues — for example, the executive order barring anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors. That could be — the President signed that; a subsequent President could undo it. So isn’t that in danger at all?
- EARNEST: Well, again, I think I alluded to this in my first answer. I do think that some of the social progress that’s been made can be attributed to some political leadership, including political leadership by the President of the United States. And there’s no doubt that we would have liked to have seen Congress take some of the steps that the President has been forced to take on his own to try to make our country a little more just and a little bit more fair.
Congress has resisted. But ultimately, those voters who prioritize these issues I’m confident will look carefully at the views and records of those who are running for President — because there’s no denying the kind of authority that they could wield sitting in the Oval Office on these issues.