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“Pride is back at the White House,” Biden celebrates LGBTQ Pride 2021

During his remarks Biden acknowledged members of the audience, many of them prominent members of the LGBTQ+ community

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President Joe Biden addressing LGBTQ Pride reception, June 25, 2021 (Screenshot via White House YouTube)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden accompanied by Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg celebrated LGBTQ+ Pride month with a series of events at the White House Friday. The President had started Friday’s acknowledgement of the LGBTQ+ community by signing House Resolution 49, which designates the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida as a National Memorial.

After the signing ceremony, the President and the Transportation Secretary attended an in-person LGBTQ+ Pride event in the East Room with Buttigieg delivering the opening remarks.

Buttigieg introduced a 16-year-old transgender advocate, Ashton Mota from Lowell, Massachusetts. Mota, who is a leader with the GenderCool Project and also an HRC Youth Ambassador, delivered a personal speech about his transition, his advocacy for transgender youths, and emphasized the need to pass the Equality Act. He also thanked the President for the actions taken by his administration.  “Mr. President, thank you for having our back.” 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaking at White House Pride reception June 25, 2021. To the Secretary’s right is 16-year-old transgender advocate, Ashton Mota from Lowell, Massachusetts, and President Biden (Screenshot via C-SPAN2)

President Biden received a standing ovation and thunderous applause when he quipped, “Pride is back at the White House.” During his remarks Biden acknowledged members of the audience, many of them prominent members of the LGBTQ+ community including Pulse Nightclub massacre Brandon J. Wolf, Delaware State Senator Sarah McBride, Lt. Colonel Bree Fram, USAF, a senior serving Trans member of the armed forces and members of the Congressional Equality Caucus.

The President also spoke about the ‘Rainbow Hallway’ exhibit in the lower hallway of the White House with historic artifacts on loan from the Smithsonian that tell of the LGBTQ journey. He also highlighted his first executive order that he had signed to root out discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and then listed some of the another significant policy and federal actions taken by his administration to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans.

After announcing that Jessica Stern was selected as his U. S. special envoy for LGBTQI+ rights at the State Department, the President proudly noted that that pride flags are flying at over 130 U.S. embassies around the world.  He emphasized that LGBTQ+ equality rights was a centerpiece of his administration’s foreign policy agenda.

The President also took aim at the over 200 pieces of legislation that were passed or considered in the past 2021 legislative sessions of 30 states. He described anti-transgender bills in states as “nothing but bullying disguised as legislation.” […] “These are some of the ugliest, un-American bills I’ve seen, and I’ve been around a while.”

“These young people aren’t hurting anyone but these laws are hurting them and they have got to stop,” Biden said.

He also called on Congress to pass the Equality Act. 

WATCH: Remarks by President Joe Biden in Recognition of LGBTQ+ Pride Month

Full transcript of the President’s remarks:

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, my name is Joe Biden.  I’m Jill Biden’s husband.  (Laughter.) 

Ashton, thank you.  You seemed awfully comfortable up here.  (Laughter and applause.)  You were awfully comfortable up here.  I don’t know.  I — I’m not sure I’ll be around, but, you know — (laughter) — if you’re here, just don’t pretend you don’t know me.  Okay?  (Laughter.)

Your story, your leadership, and your mom is an inspiration.  (Applause.)  Your mom.  If my mother were here, she’d look at you and say, “Honey, God love you, dear.”  God love you — what you do, what you did, what you continue to do.

I want to thank Secretary — well, first of all, I want to say to Chasten: Belated happy birthday, Chasten. (Applause.)  If you could hear us inside, we were singing happy birthday to him.  We got a bunch of cupcakes, but not enough for everybody.  (Laughter.)  But — and, Mr. Secretary, thank you.  You are — you’re the best, man.

Look, our presence here this afternoon makes a simple, strong statement: Pride is back at the White House.  (Applause.) 

For this community and for our nation and for the world, Pride Month represents so much.  It stands for courage — the courage of all those in previous generations and today who proudly live their truth. 

It stands for justice: both the steps we’ve taken and the steps we need to take. 

And above all, Pride Month stands for love — you know, being able to love yourself, love whomever you love, and love this country enough to make it more fair and more free and more just.

You know, during the campaign, Tim Gill and Scott Miller — and Tim — one of them is here today, I don’t want to embarrass him; he always gets mad when I do that — (laughter) — brought me and Jill to visit the Stonewall Inn.  I wanted to go, and they wanted — they offered to take me.  We wanted to pay tribute to that hallowed ground that represents the the fight to ensure that all people are treated with dignity and respect.

Just a few minutes ago, surrounded by the survivors of family members who were — we’ve lost, I signed a bill consecrating another piece of hallowed ground: the Pulse nightclub.  And I want to thank all of the members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate for standing up and making sure that will never be forgotten.  Never be forgotten.  The site of the deadliest attack affecting the LBT- — LGBTQ+ community in American history.  It’s now a national memorial. 

This month, on the way to the office, I walk through — from my — from the Residence to the Oval Office every morning — I walk through a hallway lit with rainbow colors of Pride, which you’ll have a chance to see in just a few minutes.  You’ll see a candle carried during the AIDS vigil in the early ’90s by a pair — and a pair of sandals belonging to Matthew Shepard. 

They’re reminders of how much this community has suffered and lost.  But they’re also reminders of this community’s incredible resiliency, the incredible contributions, the incred- — including, we just saw, the National Football League and the National Women’s Soccer League. 

All of you here — Henry Muñoz and Kyle — good to see you, man — (laughter).  I had the — I had the opportunity to officiate at their wedding.  (Laughter and applause.) 

And Representative Malcolm Kenyatta — where are you, Malcolm?   You’re around here some — (applause) — good to see you, man.  And Dr. Matt Miller — they stole the show at the Democratic Convention.  (Laughter.) 

And my friend, Sarah McBride — where is Sarah?  (Applause.)  Sarah?  Sarah worked closely with my son, Beau, when he was Attorney General of the State of Delaware; and is now serving Delaware, as well, as one of the first openly transgender state legislators in history.  Senator.  (Applause.) 

You just heard from our history-making Secretary of Transportation. 

And we have today the first openly transgender person ever confirmed to the U.S. Senate — you just met her — Dr. Levine.  (Applause.) 

Representation matters.  Recognition matters.  But there’s something else that matters: Results.  Results.

I am proud to lead the most pro-LGBTQ equality administration in U.S. history.  And even on the very — my very first day in office, the first executive order I signed was to change the whole of the federal government to commit to work aggressively to root out discrimination against LBT- — LGBTQ+ people and their families.  That was the first executive order.

I ordered our agencies — every agency — to rapidly implement the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock, which affirmed that civil rights protections on the basis of sex apply to sexual orientation and gender identity. 

And as a result of that executive order, the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs [Development] announced that it would be — take steps to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in housing, and ensured critical protections for transgender Americans experiencing homelessness.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced it would work to combat discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in credit and lending.  The Department of Health and Human Services announced it would protect against discrimination in healthcare services. 

And just last week, the Department of Education made clear that Title IX protections apply to sexual orientation and gender identity — (applause) — and prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ students in our nation’s schools.

And a moment ago, I signed an executive order to advance diversity, equality, and inclusion, and accessibility across the entire federal workforce.  The order directs the entire federal government to eliminate barriers so people from every background and walk of life have an equal opportunity to serve our nation, including LGBTQ+ folks and all employees in underserved communities. 

Look, I also was proud to rescind the discriminatory and un-American ban on openly transgender servicemembers.  Today, we’re joined by Lieutenant Colonel Bree Fram.  Bree, Colonel — (applause) — thank you.  One of the highest-ranking openly transgender servicemembers in the United States Military.  Lieutenant Colonel Fram, thank you for your service to our nation.  We owe you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

And everyone who has served — everyone deserves the absolute high quality of healthcare.  That’s why I was so pleased that, last week, Secretary McDonough announced the Department of Veterans Affairs is beginning the process to provide more comprehensive gender-affirming care to our nation’s transgen- — for our nation’s transgender veterans.

We’re also making equality the centerpiece of our diplomacy around the world.  We believe LGBTQ+ rights are human rights. 

In February, I signed a presidential memorandum establishing that it’s the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

This month, Pride flags are flying — as some of my friends in our last admin- — in the Obama-Biden administration who are openly gay — they are flying in more than — over 130 U.S. embassies around the world.  (Applause.)  A powerful — a powerful symbol of our commitment to safety, dignity, and opportunity for all. 

And today, I’m proud to announce that Jessica Stern, who many of you know as an LGBT special — -Q+ special envoy at the State Department. 

And yes, we’re also making progress, but I know we still have a long way to go, a lot of work to do.  But we must protect the gains we’ve made and fend off the cruel and unconscionable attacks we’re seeing now to ensure that everyone enjoys the full promise of equality and dignity and protection.  

When I was Vice President, I was proud — although, some — it won’t surprise some people in the administration at the moment — (laughter) — and, by the way, I did tell the President that I would not go out and proselytize, but if I was asked, I would not remain quiet.  (Laughter.)  The President — I was proud to have called for marriage equality, along with Barack Obama, because, at the time, I said, “Love is love, period.” 

Six year ago, tomorrow, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, we’re all reminded of the White House lit up in rainbow colors.  Shortly thereafter, I went to New York to celebrate with my friend Evan Wolfson and a team from — at Freedom to Marry.  The joy was palpable.

But we knew then, as we know now, that our work is unfinished.   When a same-sex couple can be married in the morning but denied a lease in the afternoon for being gay, something is still wrong. 

Over half of our states — in over half of our states, LGBTQ+ Americans still lack explicit state-level civil rights protections to shield them from discrimination. 

As I said as a presidential candidate and in my first joint address to Congress, it’s time for the United States Senate to pass the Equality Act and put the legislation on my desk.  (Applause.)  Put it on my desk. 

Harvey Milk was right when he said, quote, “It takes no compromise to give people their rights.”  It takes no compromise to give people their rights. 

And, by the way, this bill doesn’t just protect LGBTQ+ people.  It’s also going to strengthen existing civil rights protections for people of faith, people of color, people with disabilities, women — in public accommodations, like doctors’ offices, parks, and gyms.

I want to thank the leaders of the Congressional Equity [Equality] Caucus for their continued work to make it happen.  

The Equality Act will also help protect against the disturbing proliferation of anti-LGBTQ bills we’re seeing in state legislatures.  

So far this year, hundreds of anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures.  More than a dozen of them have already passed — more than a dozen of them.  These are some of the ugliest, most un-American laws I’ve seen, and I’ve been here awhile.  Many of them target transgender children, seeking to prevent them from receiving the appropriate medical care; for using the bathroom at high schools while they’re — the one where they’ll be most safe; even preventing them from joining sports teams with their classmates.

Let’s be clear: This is nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation.  (Applause.)  

As I’ve said before, many times, transgender kids are some of the bravest people in the world.  I mean it sincerely.  You just saw it with Ashton, and you’ll see it with several other young people here.  It takes courage to be true to your authentic self and to face — in the face of the — these kinds of discrimination you know exist.  It takes a toll. 

We know more than half of transgender youth seriously considered suicide just in the past year.  These young people aren’t hurting anyone, but these laws are hurting them.  And they’ve got to stop. 

Our deceased son, Beau — when he was Delaware’s Attorney General — was one of the first AGs in the country to call for legislation to establish legal protections on the basis of gender identity to protect — to protect trans people — trans people.    

And now, the Department of Justice has filed statements of interest in cases challenging two of these — those bills that got passed — explaining why they’re so unconstitutional.

So, we have to work.  We have to work to do so much in these areas to support seniors, aging in isolation without support; to confront disproportionate levels of homelessness and poverty and unemployment in the LGBTQ community; to address the — the epidemic level of violence against transgender people, especially transgender women — it’s been mentioned before — women of color — in the coming days, my administration is going to have more to say about that; and to finally eradicate the AIDS epidemic.  (Applause.)  

I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about this — (laughter) — but our son, Beau, who was a decorated war veteran and attorney general of the United — of the state of Delaware and should be standing here instead of me, came home from war after a year in Iraq and, before that, six months in Kosovo.  And what he did — he decided he was going to set up a foundation for LGBTQ youth, but primarily focusing on transgender youth. 

And he took all the money left from the campaign — he was going to run for governor — and put it in and a lot more.  Because in his working with everyone from YMCAs to all the — all the — all the areas where young people can find some solace — his buddy Chris Coons and my buddy Senator Coons knows what he’s done. 

The point is: A lot of transgender youth — those who commit suicide — based on the studies his foundation has done, do it because their mom doesn’t understand, because mom or dad says, “You can’t be here anymore” — are rejected. 

So, folks, we got a lot of work to do.  A lot of it’s basically public education. 

Let me close with this: When you go downstairs, you’ll see some of the Smithsonian exhibit.  You get a sense of the long, long journey — and how long it’s been, and how far we’ve come — have you come.  But how much further we have to go.

So, this afternoon, we celebrate.  But tomorrow, we go back to work.  Progress won’t come easily; it never has.  But we’re going to stand strong, stand together.  And I promise you, we will succeed.  I promise you. 

I said to folks earlier, you know things are — why — why — I always get asked by the press, “Why are you so optimistic, Biden?”  Well, as my neurosurgeon once said, I’m probably a congenital optimist.  But beyond that — (laughter) — it’s a simple proposition. 

Look at the young people: straight and gay, doesn’t matter.  They’re the least prejudiced — this generation — the most open, the most giving, and the best educated generation in history.  It’s a fact.  In all of history. 

And look where they are.  Look how it’s changing.  It’s changing in ways that — in my generation, 270 years ago — (laughter) — you’d get beat up for defending somebody. 

But really and truly, there’s a great reason for hope.  And so much talent — so much talent can be unleashed by embracing the LGBT+ community — -Q+ community. 

So I want to thank you and say: Happy Pride. 

May God bless you all.  And may God protect our troops.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

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Vermont

Out Vermont state senator wins Democratic primary in U.S. House race

Tuesday’s victory makes her likely to become the first woman and openly LGBTQ+ person to represent the heavily Democratic state in Congress

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Screenshot via Becca Balint for Congress

MONTPELIER – The Green Mountain State’s state Senate president pro tempore has won the Democratic nomination for the state’s at-large congressional seat, the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Becca Balin is running to succeed U.S. Rep. Peter Welch and Tuesday’s victory makes her likely to become the first woman and openly LGBTQ+ person to represent the heavily Democratic state in Congress if elected in November. Vermont is the only state that has never had a female member of its congressional delegation.

The VTDigger, a statewide news website, reported; “Balint, 53, is the first openly gay woman elected to the Vermont Senate and the first woman to serve as its president. The former middle school teacher and stay-at-home mother won her first political contest in a race for her southeastern Vermont Senate seat in 2014

She rose quickly through the ranks of the Democrat-controlled chamber, becoming majority leader in 2017, at the start of her second term. Four years later, in 2021, she was elected pro tem — the top position in the Senate.”

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District of Columbia

Gay couple assaulted in D.C. by teens shouting ‘monkeypox faggots’

The men were treated and released at Howard University Hospital for head and facial bruises, with one receiving stitches for a deep cut

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Photo credit: Washington Metropolitan Police Dept/Facebook

WASHINGTON – Two young men appearing in their late teens shouted the words “monkeypox faggots” at a gay male couple walking along 7th Street, N.W. in the city’s Shaw neighborhood on Sunday, Aug. 7, before punching the two men in the face and head in an incident that D.C. police have called a suspected hate crime.

The gay men were treated and released at Howard University Hospital for head and facial bruises, with one of the two receiving stitches for a deep cut on his upper lip, according to one of the victims who spoke to the Washington Blade.

The victim, an Alexandria resident who asked that he and his partner, a D.C. resident, not be identified by name, said the attackers were part of a group of four or five young men appearing to be between 17 and 19 years old and two young women accompanying them. He said the group crossed paths with the gay couple around 5:40 p.m. in front of a store on the 1700 block of 7th Street, N.W., as the couple was walking to a nearby bus stop on Rhode Island Avenue.

The victim who spoke to the Blade said a nearby witness called D.C. police, who arrived within a few minutes as the two attackers and the other young men with them fled the scene. He said although an ambulance arrived on the scene, one of the police officers drove the couple to nearby Howard University Hospital, where they spent about six hours in the emergency room.

The couple had spent part of that 90+ degree day at the city’s Banneker Pool and later stopped at the Kiki gay bar on U Street, N.W. before taking what the victim who spoke to the Blade said was a leisurely walk from Kiki via 7th Street on their way to the bus stop, where they planned to take the bus to his boyfriend’s Northeast D.C. house.

As the couple walked south on 7th Street about a block from their destination on Rhode Island Avenue they crossed paths with the group of teenagers in front of a store that a D.C. police report says was at 1731 7th St., N.W.

“They were about 17 to 19 years old,” the victim who spoke to the Blade said. “And one of them started saying stuff like, hey, look at these monkeypox faggots and some not so nice stuff like that,” he said.

Two persons of interest considered possible suspects in the Sunday, Aug. 7 assault of a gay couple on the 1700 block of 7th Street, N.W. Police ask anyone who recognizes one or both individuals to contact police at 202-727-9099.
(Image courtesy of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department)

“We turned around to walk away and one of them came up behind me and got my attention and then sucker punched me and then hit me again and then hit my boyfriend in the face,” the victim said. “And another person hit him in the face as well,” he said. “And then someone across the street called the cops. And then the cops came, and they scattered off.”

To the couple’s surprise, the two young women remained on the scene and apologized for the actions by the guys they were with.

“So, I said something like thanks for the apology, but this is the kind of people you hang out with,” the victim recounted. “And one of them said their dad was gay, and they kind of walked away before the cops got there,” he said. “It was nice of them to apologize I guess for the other people.”

The D.C. police report lists the incident as having two offenses, a simple assault against the two men and a misdemeanor destruction of property related to the destruction of a pair of sunglasses worn by one of the two men that were damaged in the assault against him.

The report also lists the incident as a suspected “Sexual orientation – Anti-Gay” hate crime.

As in all incidents of violent crime, D.C. police call on members of the public to contact the police with information about an incident like this to call police at 202-727-9099 or text a tip to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE at 50411.

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Federal Government

Biden administration ends ‘Remain In Mexico’ policy for asylum seekers

DHS had held off lifting the MPP protocols until after the Supreme Court’s ruling and then until the U.S. District Judge lifted his injunction

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Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas meeting with Honduran Security Minister Sabillon, July 27, 2022 (Photo Credit: U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Monday that the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) colloquially referred to as the ‘Remain-in-Mexico’ policy for asylum seekers at the nation’s Southern border has ended.

In a statement issued yesterday, DHS noted;

“We welcome the U.S. District Court’s decision, which follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 30th decision, to lift the injunction that required DHS to reimplement the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) in good faith.

DHS is committed to ending the court-ordered implementation of MPP in a quick, and orderly, manner. Individuals are no longer being newly enrolled into MPP, and individuals currently in MPP in Mexico will be disenrolled when they return for their next scheduled court date.  Individuals disenrolled from MPP will continue their removal proceedings in the United States.”

DHS officials had held off lifting the MPP protocols until after the Supreme Court’s ruling and then additionally until U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee in Amarillo, Texas, had lifted his injunction. 

“MPP has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs, and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said as DHS removed the MPP policy.

The DHS statement also noted that the Department will provide additional information in the coming days. “MPP enrollees should follow the directions on their court documents and tear sheets to appear for their scheduled court date as required.”

DHS continues to enforce our nation’s immigration and public health laws, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 public health order as required by court order. Individuals encountered at the Southwest Border who cannot establish a legal basis to remain in the United States will be removed or expelled, the statement added.

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