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Originally published June 21, 2010 at 8:25 PM | Page modified June 21, 2010 at 9:05 PM

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Active Father's Day for Obama, critics

Presidential proclamations for Hallmark holidays are generally not news-making occasions, but President Obama seemed intent on breaking some new ground with his statement marking Father's Day.

WASHINGTON — Presidential proclamations for Hallmark holidays are generally not news-making occasions, but President Obama seemed intent on breaking some new ground with his statement marking Father's Day.

After some of the expected ruminations on the responsibilities and joys of fatherhood, Obama's 2010 proclamation notes: "Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a stepfather, a grandfather, or caring guardian."

Jenny Tyree, a marriage analyst for CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family, called the inclusion of "two fathers" in the proclamation a "very troubling" decision to promote a "motherless family."

American Family Association president Tim Wildmon criticized Obama's reference to gay parenting, telling The Associated Press: "This is the first time in our nation's history that a president has used Father's Day as an excuse to promote the radical homosexual agenda and completely redefine the word 'family.' "

But White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said Obama was simply trying to be "inclusive," and notes that the president used similar language in his Mother's Day proclamation.

That May 7 proclamation said "nurturing families" include those headed by "two mothers."

Obama pledged a series of new initiatives to support responsible fatherhood on Monday, but called on fathers to recognize that government cannot do what they can best do in the home.

Obama urged fathers to mentor their own children and to reach out to those in the community who don't have strong parental or guardian support.

"I can't legislate fatherhood. I can't force anybody to love a child," Obama told a crowd gathered at a community center on the southeast side of Washington.

"But what we can do is send a clear message to our fathers that there is no excuse for failing to meet their obligations."

The message echoed that of a noted Obama campaign speech from 2008, when he told absent fathers to stop making excuses and take economic and emotional responsibility for their children.

The White House is kicking off a program to recruit mentors and give them support.

People who sign up to take part in the Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative will get e-newsletters with tips and information about fatherhood and mentoring.

The NFL Players Association is also getting involved by sponsoring local forums on parenting, and the national Parent Teacher Association will help promote participation.

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