About That: Rainbow lights and fireworks

In which I dig into a meme that took issue with the Obama White House lighting up in rainbow colors after Obergefell v Hodges.

This time we dig into another meme sent in to the Facebook inbox. The meme features the White House lit up in rainbow colors. Above the White House is white text on a black background that says “I bet the White House won’t light up red, white, and blue on 4th of July.” Layered over the image right around the bottom of the building is the well-worn Kermit the Frog drinking tea image, and starting from the left of the image and running right to over Kermit’s chest are the words (white font with black outline) “But that’s not my business.“


The Rainbow White House

Is the image of the White House lit up in rainbow colors real? Absolutely. Here’s a video of it from the Associated Press:

Whit e House lit up in rainbow colors after Obergefell v Hodges

The White House was lit in rainbow on Friday, June 26, 2015, to honor the legalization of same-sex marriage through the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v Hodges. The idea to light the White House was proposed three weeks earlier by Aditi Harkidar – at the time aide to Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and LGBT liaison in the White House Office of Public Engagement. According to the Washington Post:

Three weeks ago, Jarrett’s aide Aditi Hardikar, the LGBT liaison in the White House Office of Public Engagement, suggested they illuminate the White House with a rainbow if the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Working with the first lady’s chief of staff, Tina Tchen, Jarrett and her aides consulted with the National Park Service and U.S. Secret Service and got gay rights organizations to underwrite it so it did not cost the taxpayers money.

The president accepted the idea matter-of-factly when Jarrett raised it. “It’s a great idea if you can get it to work,” she recalled him saying.

It seems worth it to reiterate that Jarrett and her aides got “gay rights organizations to underwrite it so it did not cost the taxpayers money.“ The lighting of the White House in rainbow colors was to honor the judicial branch that day extending legal rights to Americans who had previously been denied those rights, but it was only paid for by gay rights organizations. Our taxes did not pay for it.

The 4th of July

The White House has been hosting July 4th celebrations since 1801 when Thomas Jefferson opened The People’s House to the public for a reception. Here are a few links (some with pictures and videos) about how the White House – including the current administration – has celebrated the 4th of July for 215 years:

According to Politico, the current administration’s plans for the final Obama White House Fourth are:

Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monáe will perform at the White House for a Fourth of July concert, White House press secretary Josh Earnest announced Friday.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will host military heroes and their families on Independence Day, Earnest said. The celebration will include a barbecue, a concert and a fireworks viewing from the White House’s South Lawn

POTUS Obama address about serving military families

The White House may not be lit up in colors, but the D.C. sky will light up with fireworks and the Obamas will host military families in a celebration with food, (great) music, and fun.

Really, though.

This meme seems to suggest:

  1. Negative feelings about the White House paying tribute to a decision by this country’s highest court that – for the first time in America’s 240 year history as a federal republic – granted legal rights to LGBTQ people, a marginalized group of the country’s citizens.
  2. The current administration intends to neglect the most famous holiday in American tradition – a holiday that has been celebrated by the Executive Branch for 215 years, including seven years by the Obama administration.

All of this is to, for the umpteen billionth time, question the American-ness of the current President. In the hierarchy of American things, LGBTQ Americans – American people – and their rights being established as law by an American branch of government fall below the three colors of the Star Spangled Banner. President Obama, by ONLY having a Fourth of July concert featuring American musicians performing for American military members and their families (some of whom may be LGBTQ) on the White House lawn and providing American barbecue and a fireworks display specifically for the 4th (and probably with plenty of red, white, and blue decorations and flag imagery), is showing his disdain for America and her history and traditions. That’s what we’re supposed to believe anyway.

There’s pleeeeenty to critique about the Obama administration, but questioning if they will pay tribute to the Fourth and using a celebration of LGBTQ rights to imply a lack of patriotism is ludicrous, based on zero facts, and homophobic.

As an American, that’s my business.