After a group picture of world leader’s spouses at the NATO summit during the past week received widespread attention and praise because it included the husband of Luxembourg’s openly gay PM Xavier Bettel, The White House has now come under fire by media and social media users because they omitted the name of Gauthier Destenay in the caption of that very picture.
The original caption in the post now amended read: “First Lady Melania Trump poses with Belgium’s Queen Mathilde, center, and other spouses of Nato leaders: First Lady Emine Erdoğan of Turkey; Iceland’s Thora Margret Baldvinsdottir; the First Lady of France Brigitte Trogneux; First Lady Melania Trump; Slovenia’s Mojca Stropnik; Bulgaria’s Desislava Radeva; Belgium’s Amélie Derbaudrenghien, and Norway’s Ingrid Schulerud, during their visit Thursday 25 May 2917 [sic], at the Royal Palace in Brussels.”
The picture had received international attention and praise because Gauthier Destenay is the husband of the currently only openly gay prime minister in the world and was dubbed as a step towards equality for the LGBT community.
The fact that The White House omitted Destenay’s name was interpreted as homophobia by many observers. While President Trump has indicated in the recent past that he had no problem with legislation allowing same sex marriage, Vice-President Mike Pence is known to be a fierce opponent of gay marriage.
Media outlets like The Guardian, Mirror and Buzzfeed reported on the incident, and Twitter users were quick to discover and comment the omission.
Social media users were looking for “non-homophobic” reasons for the omission and were apparently not able to discover any.
Actor Kal Penn chipped in on the debate, saying that he does not believe that the omission was unplanned.
One Twitter user reposted a mail by White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham, saying that she was “sure it was an oversight” as it was taken on a “very big, very busy international trip.”
While Xavier Bettel is the only current openly gay head of government, it is worth noting that in 2010, Johanna Siguroardottir, then prime minister of Iceland, became the first serving leader in the world to marry a same-sex partner.