Jill Biden refuses to address criticism over honoring Nancy Reagan during Pride month

Jill Biden refuses to address criticism over honoring Nancy Reagan during Pride month

June is LGTBQ+ Pride Month, and the White House sparked controversy for hosting a high-profile event earlier in the month by unveiling a postage stamp featuring Nancy Reagan.

Critics say the former first lady and her husband, President Ronald Reagan, were publicly homophobic and failed to meaningfully address the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, despite being friends with many LGTBQ+ people they knew from their time in Hollywood and Washington society.

On Monday, current first lady Jill Biden held a ceremony revealing the stamp, where she congratulated Ms. Reagan for “making such a difference.”

“First Lady Nancy Reagan served the American people with grace,” she said. “She understood that being first lady had its inherent pitfalls and scrutiny, but she found the humanity in it all.”

Many members of the LGTBQ+ community and beyond argue that the Reagans failed to find humanity in the queer community throughout their public careers, and especially during the crucial early moments of the crisis. AIDS.

In 1967, Mr. Reagan, then Governor of California, fired what he believed to be a ‘gay clique’ in his administrationMrs. Reagan calling being gay a ‘disease’ and an ‘anomaly’.

During his run for the White House, Mr. Reagan won the support of violently homophobic far-right religious leaders like Jerry Falwell, and said the gay liberation movement “not only demands civil rights; it is asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle that I do not believe society can tolerate, nor can I,” in a 1980 campaign speech.

Former US President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan share a moment in this undated file photo.

(Getty Pictures)

By the time he became president in 1981, Ronald Reagan waited years to speak publicly about HIV/AIDS, even though it had killed thousands of people in the United States.

For years, the city of San Francisco has been spends more on HIV/AIDS treatment than the entire federal governmentand as the epidemic persisted, President Reagan continued to seek to cut funding for AIDS.

He only mentioned the condition by name in a speech in 1987, at the twilight of his presidency, after more than 20,000 people had died, many of them LGTBQ+.

Nancy Reagan reportedly turned down a 1985 request from her close friend, actor Rock Hudson, for White House help in securing an experimental AIDS treatment in France.

“Only one hospital in the world can provide the medical care necessary to save Rock Hudson’s life or at least relieve his illness,” the actor’s representatives at the White House wrote in a message.

Former aides said Ms. Reagan was supportive of Hudson’s fight, but felt it was inappropriate for the White House to give a friend special treatment.

“I spoke with Mrs. Reagan about the attached telegram. She didn’t think it was something the White House should be getting into,” said Reagan aide Mark Weinberg. told Buzzfeed Newswho reported on the exchange.

First Lady Biden did not directly respond to criticism of the Reagans and their relationship with the LGTBQ+ community.

“This postage stamp unveiling ceremony was timed to commemorate Mrs. Reagan’s centennial and was scheduled the day before the Ronald Reagan Institute building opened in DC,” the first lady’s office told The Huffington. Post in a press release.

They also highlighted the White House’s vocal advocacy for LGBTQ+ people.

“President Biden and the First Lady have a long and proud history of supporting, fighting for and leading LGBTQ+ rights and those living with HIV/AIDS,” the statement read. “Last month, Dr. Biden visited a shelter in Panama for people living with HIV/AIDS and announced an additional $80 million in PEPFAR funding for the region. The White House and First Family are planning several ways to honor and celebrate PRIDE month.

Last week, in a proclamation from the White House, the president called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Mr Biden wrote that he “stands with all LGBTQI+ Americans in the ongoing fight against intolerance, discrimination and injustice. We condemn dangerous state laws and bills that target young people LGBTQI+. And we remain true to our commitment to help LGBTQI+ people in America and around the world live free from violence.”

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