Updated: Gay Md. legislator is White House fatherhood mentor
Maryland State Sen. Richard S. Madeleno Jr. is reported to be among those invited by President Barack Obama to a Father's Day mentoring barbecue on the South Lawn of the White House today.
Obama, raised by a single mother after his father deserted the family, has made fatherhood a theme of his presidency. He held a similar event, on the Friday before Father's Day 2009. On hand for that cookout -- overseen by celebrity chef Bobby Flay -- were several hundred young men, community mentors, figures from the sports world, Obama administration officials and other fathers.
This year's commemoration, the morning after Father's Day, will feature a speech by Obama at an event in southeast Washington. Then, he'll return to the White House for the cookout, where those in attendance will be looking for shade from the summer heat (no way to avoid breathing the unhealthy air, though, the city under a Code Orange air quality alert).
Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat, is the first openly gay member of the Maryland state Senate. He and his partner are raising two adopted young children.
Others expected to attend the White House event, according to Mike Allen's Playbook: Dr. Robert Franklin, President of Morehouse College; Chuck Close, noted painter; Swin Cash, Seattle Storm, WNBA; Robert Wolf, CEO, UBS Group America and member, PERAB; and Jim Gates, renowned theoretical physicist.
Judging by at least one of those on that guest list (Swin Cash), this year's event may be expanded to include young women as well as men.
At today's White House briefing, deputy press secretary Bill Burton was asked about a line in Obama's Father's Day proclamation that referred to a situation similar to Madaleno's, in which two men are raising children.
Here's the exchange:
Q On another subject, the Father’s Day proclamation, the President here talks about the different kinds of families that are out there and he talks about fathers -- children who were raised by fathers and mothers, a single father, a stepfather or grandfather, and two fathers. Why was it so important for the President to include that in the proclamation, the two fathers?
MR. BURTON: He was just trying to be inclusive of all sorts of families, just like he was on the Mother’s Day proclamation.
Here's the text of the proclamation, released late Friday afternoon in advance of Father's Day weekend:
FATHER'S DAY, 2010
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
From the first moments of life, the bond forged between a
father and a child is sacred. Whether patching scraped knees
or helping with homework, dads bring joy, instill values, and
introduce wonders into the lives of their children. Father's
Day is a special time to honor the men who raised us, and to
thank them for their selfless dedication and love.
Fathers are our first teachers and coaches, mentors and
role models. They push us to succeed, encourage us when we
are struggling, and offer unconditional care and support.
Children and adults alike look up to them and learn from their
example and perspective. The journey of fatherhood is both
exhilarating and humbling -- it is an opportunity to model
who we want our sons and daughters to become, and to build
the foundation upon which they can achieve their dreams.
Fatherhood also carries enormous responsibilities.
An active, committed father makes a lasting difference in the
life of a child. When fathers are not present, their children
and families cope with an absence government cannot fill.
Across America, foster and adoptive fathers respond to this
need, providing safe and loving homes for children facing
hardships. Men are also making compassionate commitments
outside the home by serving as mentors, tutors, or big brothers
to young people in their community. Together, we can support
the guiding presence of male role models in the lives of
countless young people who stand to gain from it.
Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may
be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers,
a step-father, a grandfather, or caring guardian. We owe a
special debt of gratitude for those parents serving in the
United States Armed Forces and their families, whose sacrifices
protect the lives and liberties of all American children. For
the character they build, the doors they open, and the love
they provide over our lifetimes, all our fathers deserve our
unending appreciation and admiration.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the
United States of America, in accordance with a joint resolution
of the Congress approved April 24, 1972, as amended (36 U.S.C.
109), do hereby proclaim June 20, 2010, as Father's Day.
I direct the appropriate officials of the Government to
display the flag of the United States on all Government
buildings on this day, and I call upon all citizens to observe
this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
Let us honor our fathers, living and deceased, with all the
love and gratitude they deserve.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
eighteenth day of June, in the year of our Lord
two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States
of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.