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Monday, June 14, 2021

Biden Recognizes Pride Month, Vowing to Fight for LGBTQ Rights

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And during his first address to a joint session of Congress, Mr. Biden said he would continue pressing lawmakers to pass the Equality Act, which would provide civil rights protections to the L.G.B.T.Q. community.

As the Biden administration has put an emphasis on diversity in the federal government, the White House noted on Tuesday that 14 percent of all presidential appointees identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, was the first openly gay cabinet secretary confirmed by the Senate, and Dr. Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services, was the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate.

But state legislatures across the country are advancing measures that seek to limit rights. On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican, signed into law a bill that barred transgender female student-athletes from competing in women’s sports. Across the country, there are currently 250 bills that seek to target transgender people and limit local protections. Of those, 24, including Mr. DeSantis’s bill, have been signed, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

“We know we have real partners in advancing equality,” Mr. David said. “That’s so important, particularly now, where we’re seeing backlash in certain states.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about the Florida law. It also did not say whether Mr. Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris planned to participate in any in-person Pride events this month.

Mr. Biden, a politician whose own views on gay rights have evolved over his decades in public life, did not always identify with the positions of the L.G.B.T.Q. activists with whom he consulted during the presidential transition, seeking policy recommendations. In 1996, he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, blocking federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Two years earlier, he voted to cut off federal funds to schools that taught the acceptance of homosexuality.

Some of his Democratic presidential primary opponents, like Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, tried to make an issue of those votes during the campaign last year. But gay rights advocates have generally accepted that the views of Democratic leaders have evolved significantly over the years, and they credit Mr. Biden with being ahead of many other elected officials in his party.

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