On Dec. 13, Jody Cofer, academic program specialist, attended the White House Holiday Reception.
Cofer’s partner, Morgan Randall, attended the reception with him. Cofer received an invitation by way of his diversity-related work, specifically in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender areas.
Cofer has been involved in the LGBT community at the University for years with Alliance and now through the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. This spring, Cofer will finish six years of service on the Board of Kentucky Fairness Alliance. He is also in his third year of service on the national Board of the Equality Federation, which is the national organization for statewide LGBT organizations.
For the reception, Cofer and Randall got to meet President Obama and the First Lady. Cofer said upon arrival they were given specific time and location assignments. They were taken down to the Map Room on the ground level of the White House to wait and then taken to the Diplomacy Room where the Obamas were greeting attendees.
“I remember looking at Morgan when we walked into the Diplomacy Room and saw (the Obamas),” Cofer said. “This is where FDR recorded his Fireside Chats, there they are, and here we go.”
Cofer and Randall each had a few moments with President Obama and the First Lady.
“I said hello to President Obama from President Dunn; they met back when Illinois when President Obama was serving in the Illinois Legislature and had just been elected to the U.S. Senate,” Cofer said.
He said he thanked him for all the progress his administration is making on the LGBT front and invited him to Murray.
Cofer said when he met the First Lady, he took the opportunity to thank her for the White House’s work on the “It Gets Better” campaign and school bullying issues in general. Cofer said he closed the conversation by extending an invitation for her to visit Murray, as well he said.
Randall used her time with President Obama to thank him for signing the Agriculture Appropriations Bill in 2011.
Cofer said the policy briefing outlined advances the administration has made in a variety of areas including diversity.
“It wasn’t LGBT-specific, but the briefing I attended at the White House a little over a year before in August of 2010 was LGBT-specific,” Cofer said. “This administration is working hard to make progress for LGBT Americans.”
The Obama administration has repealed the law known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which issued a Presidential Directive requiring hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to allow gay and lesbian patients to have their partners visit them and be selected to make decisions on their behalf.
He also signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which makes it a federal hate crime to assault people based on sexual orientation, gender and gender identity
Cofer said: “I’ve stood in the White House before, but never with such a sense of pride than I did that day for the accomplishments being made for people like Morgan and I, just ordinary LGBT people.”