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January 08, 2023 FEATURED ARTICLE

An Unexpected Trip to the White House

by Nathan Bruemmer

It isn’t every day you receive an email from the White House Social Office. I was in a rather unassuming place, deep in line at a Shake Shack in Baltimore. The email heading preview on my phone says “Invitation from The President and Dr. Biden …”

My first thought is, “this must be spam.” So, as one should do with spam email, I open it. And it begins … “Dear Mr. Bruemmer, Esq.,” I start scrolling. It’s a rather long, detailed email. Entry instructions, attire, prohibited items, a map, and the graphic of the invitation. The invitation looks official.

Respect for Marriage Act Signing Ceremony (Left to Right: PICTURE 1 - Nik Harris, Esq., PJ Nowlan, Esq., Nathan Bruemmer; PICTURE 2 - Londyn de Richelieu, and Malik Brown)

Respect for Marriage Act Signing Ceremony (Left to Right: PICTURE 1 - Nik Harris, Esq., PJ Nowlan, Esq., Nathan Bruemmer; PICTURE 2 - Londyn de Richelieu, and Malik Brown)

The hustle and bustle of closing time at a burger joint fade into an eerie silence as my initial reaction changes. I slowly look up from my phone and say “Honey, I think we are going to the White House.”

“What?” she says. And I repeat myself, “I think we are going to the White House.” 

“How? Why? What?” She keeps repeating all the question words.

The next few minutes are a blur. I explain I have been invited to the White House for the Respect for Marriage Act signing ceremony. Then I tell her the invitation includes a plus one. Now I see a look of panic on her face, and she says, “What am I going to wear?”

We grab our order and head back to the hotel. The significance of the invitation hits me on the long brisk walk through the Inner Harbor. The impact of this moment in LGBTQ+ advocacy and history. The honor and privilege of attendance. And yes, even thoughts of what I would wear.

The timing of the invitation was personally overwhelming and powerful. I had been in Baltimore for my last trip as my position within state government was ending. I have had the privilege of serving the people of Florida as the Director of LGBTQ Affairs within Nikki Fried’s administration at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Serving as Florida’s only statewide appointed LGBTQ+ official at a time when our state has been in national headlines for its attacks against the LGBTQ+ community and the remarkable response of LGBTQ+ Floridians to fight back has been both challenging and rewarding.

I am also recently engaged. My fiancé and I are both lawyers and, as you can imagine, we have been debating everything since our days in law school together. Since the Dobbs decision sparked fear of a potential overturning of Obergefell and through the fight to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, we have discussed and debated all aspects of what could pass as well as what the potential compromises could mean. In fact, I had been recently reading several Op-eds by attorneys criticizing the religious exemption included in the Act and the potential effects.

My work is often at the intersection of advocacy, public policy, and the law. And as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, my work is also personal. As luck would have it, my fiancé had joined me in Baltimore for what we thought would be a couple of days of vacation. Now we would witness a moment in history together. I decided to put aside my lawyer and advocate brain and leaned into the moment with my heart.  

As we prepared for the big event, we wondered what to expect. On the drive, we talked about what led to this moment and its impact moving forward.

The lines were long yet joyful as we arrived at the White House. The energy was amazing. The crisp breeze on a bluebird day was perfect. We enjoyed hot cider on the South Lawn. Everywhere we turned we saw friends and fellow advocates. We shared hugs and greetings. And even ran into old friends we didn’t expect to see. We took pictures as we waited for the program to begin.

The performances by Sam Smith, Joy Oladokum, and Cyndi Lauper were amazing. You couldn’t help but feel the music and lyrics. For me – Cyndi Lauper’s performance of “True Colors” was the most reflective. We clapped and cheered as we heard the speeches. And then the President put pen to paper, and the Act was now law.

When I look back on Tuesday, December 13, 2022, I will always remember how we smiled, laughed and celebrated. And for now, as the President acknowledged on that day, the work to protect the LGBTQ+ community across the country continues. 


Nathan Bruemmer

LGBTQ Consumer Advocate, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Nathan Bruemmer is currently the LGBTQ Consumer Advocate for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. He is the former Executive Director of ALSO Youth in Sarasota, FL – a community center focusing on outreach, education, and advocacy for LGBTQ+ youth. He is a recent graduate of Stetson University College of Law where he was a member of Stetson Law’s Trial Team, Dispute Resolution Board, and Journal of Advocacy and the Law. Nathan is a Florida native, a graduate of the University of South Florida and a former teacher in Hillsborough County. He has worked as a consultant, educator and advocate on behalf of LGBTQ+ youth, the transgender community, and those impacted by food and housing insecurity.


Nathan was named one of the Tampa Bay Area’s “Most Remarkable People” in 2018 by Watermark Media. The Tampa Bay Business Journal presented him with the Business of Pride “Outstanding Voice Award” for his advocacy work on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community in 2017.


Nathan currently serves as the President and acting Executive Director of St Pete Pride. He also serves on the Sarasota County Bar Association’s Council of Diversity and Inclusion, the TransAction Florida Advisory Council, and the Board of Directors for the Rainbow Housing Coalition.