Gay marriage activists invited to the White House to mark the gay pride month were photographed giving the middle finger to a portrait of the late President Ronald Reagan.
According to Fox News, the gay activists were guests at a reception on Friday marking the gay pride month. The Inquisitr reports that the images first published by Philadelphia Magazine show two gay activists with middle fingers raised and directed at Reagan's portrait.
The White House has expressed displeasure at the photos. According to The Huffington Post, Shin Inouye, White House spokesman said on Friday:
“While the White House does not control the conduct of guests at receptions, we certainly expect that all attendees conduct themselves in a respectful manner. Most all do. These individuals clearly did not. Behavior like this doesn’t belong anywhere, least of all in the White House.”Philadelphia Magazine reports the gay activists in the photos are Mark Segal, Matthew Hart and Zoe Strauss. Segal's photo in the Philadelphia Magazine shows him giving the portrait of George W. Bush a "sarcastic thumbs-up." Philadelphia Magazine reports Segal said:
"It’s (middle finger gesture) is not a gesture that I would use in the White House when representing our city and our community. I have friends who work in that building. I’m not going to do something that could embarrass them or that could somehow damage a campaign that is so important. ‘Be on your best behavior,’ my staff told me. I think they know me too well.”
According to Fox News, Hart defended his action, saying: “Ronald Reagan has blood on his hands. The man was in the White House as AIDS exploded.”
The Huffington Post reports that Strauss is a Philadelphia photographer while Hart is the national director of public engagement at Solutions for Progress. Strauss posted the image on her Facebook page but removed it on Friday afternoon. Hart also posted the image to his Facebook page with a four-letter word accompaniment.
The Philly Post reports that Hart took issue with Reagan's handling of the AIDS epidemic. He said: “Yeah, f– Reagan. He was a murderous fool, and I have no problem saying so. Don’t invite me back. I don’t care.”
According to The Huffington Post, Christian Berle, deputy executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, criticized Hart and Strauss for insulting Reagan. He said:
"It is unfortunate that the image conservative America is seeing today of LGBT people is of gay leftists misbehaving at the White House, rather than the millions of patriotic, decent LGBT citizens, many of whom, like Log Cabin Republicans, hold President Ronald Reagan in high esteem. These photographs have hurt our community and make advocating for inclusion and equality more difficult. The participants should be ashamed."The Global Post reports that at the event's reception, President Barack Obama said that gay citizens will have full equality in America. The Washington Times reports Obama said: "We'll get there because of every man and woman and activist and ally who is moving us forward by the force of their moral arguments, but more importantly, by the force of their example."