June 15, 2021

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Biden Recognizes June as Pride Month, Vows to Protect LGBTQ Rights – The New York Times

3 min read

President Biden on Tuesday issued a presidential proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month, vowing to fight for full equality for the L.G.B.T.Q. community to be codified into law.

The acknowledgment of Pride, a month defined for many in the L.G.B.T.Q. community by marches, parades and parties across the United States, also offered Mr. Biden his latest opportunity to contrast his own behavior and priorities with those of his predecessor in office.

Last year, Donald J. Trump steadfastly ignored Pride, refusing to acknowledge the celebration of many Americans nationwide with even a presidential tweet, overruling suggestions from several aides that he write one. Embassies overseas were told they were prohibited from flying the Pride flag.

Mr. Trump’s silence came as his administration rolled back a 2016 regulation that mandated health care as a civil right for transgender patients under the Affordable Care Act.

That was then.

As Mr. Biden marked the beginning of Pride on Tuesday, the White House underscored the contrast, noting that “after four years of relentless attacks on L.G.B.T.Q.+ rights, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic actions to accelerate the march toward full L.G.B.T.Q.+ equality.”

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 banned transgender females from competing in women’s sports. In response, the Human Rights Campaign, an L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy group, announced its intent to challenge the new law in court. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the Florida law.

Since taking office, Mr. Biden has signed an executive order that combats discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. His administration has also reversed a Trump-era ban that prohibited transgender people from serving in the military.

He has also restored protections for transgender people seeking emergency shelter and homeless services. The Trump administration had denied them access to single-sex shelters of their gender identity.

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 identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.

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 L.G.B.T.Q. activists. He voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, blocking federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Two years earlier, he voted to cut off federal funds to schools that teach the acceptance of homosexuality.

But gay rights advocates have accepted that the views of Democratic leaders have evolved dramatically over the years and generally credit Mr. Biden with being ahead of many other elected officials in his party.

As vice president, for instance, Mr. Biden was the highest-ranking Democrat to initially endorse same-sex marriage in 2012 — disclosing his position in a television interview. He was credited with pushing President Barack Obama to express his support for gay marriage a few days later.

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