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President & Dr. Jill Biden host Pride reception at the White House

Biden signed a sweeping executive order that expands LGBTQ+ rights. during the Pride reception Wednesday in the East Room



Screenshot/YouTube NBC News

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden held a Pride Month celebration at the White House Wednesday, where the president signed a sweeping executive order that expands LGBTQ+ rights.

The mandate, among other things, directs the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and other federal government agencies to develop policies that will counter anti-LGBTQ+ laws that have been enacted in states across the country. The order also creates a “Bill of Rights for LGBTQI+ Older Adults” within HHS and will prohibit the use of federal funds to support so-called conversion therapy.

Javier Gómez, a gay 18-year-old recent high school graduate from Miami who challenged Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, introduced Biden at the White House Pride Month reception before he signed the executive order. First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine joined five young LGBTQ+ people on stage during the signing.

“All of us here on this stage have your back,” said Biden before he signed the order.

After finishing his remarks, Biden sat down at a desk next to the podium to sign an executive order on advancing equality for LGBTQI+ individuals.

President Biden hands pen he signed executive order with to Javier Gómez
(Screenshot/YouTube NBC News)

Biden during the event specifically mocked Florida lawmakers who backed their state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, noting they are “going after Mickey Mouse, for God’s sake.” Biden also noted that upwards of 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced across the country.

“I don’t have to tell you about the ultra-MAGA agenda attacking families and our freedoms,” he said. “These attacks are real and consequential for real families.”

The event took place less than a week after police in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, arrested 31 white supremacists who planned to disrupt a Pride event.

“I’m grateful of the swift response of law enforcement,” said Biden. “And they responded.” 

Biden in his remarks noted the arrests and increased violence against Transgender women of color and other vulnerable LGBTQ+ people.

“Violent attacks on the community, including ongoing attacks on transgender women of color, make our nation less safe — because the attacks are more than ever last year, and they’re on pace again this year,” he said. “They’re disgusting, and they have to stop.”

Biden also urged lawmakers to pass the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the federal civil rights law.

“We are in the battle for the very soul of this nation,” said Biden. “When I look around this room with all of you here today, it’s a battle that I know we will win.”

Screenshot/NBC News

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland; White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.); U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.); U.S. Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.); Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride; Arizona state Rep. Daniel Hernández; Pennsylvania state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ+ rights abroad, are among those who attended the event. Judy and Dennis Shepard, Jim Obergefell, GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis, Interim Human Rights Campaign President Joni Madison, TransLatin@ Coalition President Bamby Salcedo, Arianna’s Center CEO Arianna Lint, LGBTQ Victory Institute Executive Director Elliot Imse, D.C. trans advocate Earlene Budd and other activists joined them.

Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement Co-Executive Director Jennicet Gutiérrez, who heckled then-President Obama during the White House’s 2015 Pride Month reception, declined an invitation to attend.

Gutiérrez on Tuesday told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview that she did not want to go “because the community is under attack.” Gutiérrez also criticized the Biden administration over the continued detention of Trans people in immigration detention centers and the deportation of Trans people who ask for asylum.

Bamby Salcedo, a prominent & celebrated Los Angeles-based trans Latina activist was also present at the reception.
(Photo by Michael K. Lavers)



The White House

Biden condemns signing of Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act

National Security Council ‘to evaluate’ law’s implications, U.S. engagement with country



President Biden speaking in the Rose Garden earlier this month. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday condemned Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act that the country’s president has signed.

“The enactment of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act is a tragic violation of universal human rights — one that is not worthy of the Ugandan people, and one that jeopardizes the prospects of critical economic growth for the entire country,” said Biden in his statement. “I join with people around the world — including many in Uganda — in calling for its immediate repeal. No one should have to live in constant fear for their life or being subjected to violence and discrimination. It is wrong.”

Biden notes “reports of violence and discrimination targeting Ugandans who are or are perceived to be LGBTQI+ are on the rise,” since MPs introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

“Innocent Ugandans now fear going to hospitals, clinics, or other establishments to receive life-saving medical care lest they be targeted by hateful reprisals. Some have been evicted from their homes or fired from their jobs. And the prospect of graver threats — including lengthy prison sentences, violence, abuse — threatens any number of Ugandans who want nothing more than to live their lives in safety and freedom,” said Biden.

“This shameful Act is the latest development in an alarming trend of human rights abuses and corruption in Uganda. The dangers posed by this democratic backsliding are a threat to everyone residing in Uganda, including U.S. government personnel, the staff of our implementing partners, tourists, members of the business community and others,” added Biden. 

The version of the Anti-Homosexuality Act that President Yoweri Museveni signed contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality.”

Biden in his statement notes he has “directed my National Security Council to evaluate the implications of this law on all aspects of U.S. engagement with Uganda, including our ability to safely deliver services under the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other forms of assistance and investments. My administration will also incorporate the impacts of the law into our review of Uganda’s eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).”  

“We are considering additional steps, including the application of sanctions and restriction of entry into the United States against anyone involved in serious human rights abuses or corruption,” he said.

Ugandan media reports indicate the U.S. has revoked Parliament Speaker Anita Among’s visa.

“The United States shares a deep and committed partnership with the people of Uganda. For more than 60 years, we have worked together to help millions of Ugandans live healthier, more productive lives,” said Biden in his statement. “Our programs have boosted economic growth and agricultural productivity, increased investments in Ugandan businesses, and strengthened our trade cooperation. In total, the U.S. government invests nearly $1 billion annually in Uganda’s people, business, institutions, and military to advance our common agenda. The scale of our commitments speaks to the value we place on this partnership — and our faith in the people of Uganda to build for themselves a better future. It is my sincere hope that we can continue to build on this progress, together and strengthen protections for the human rights of people everywhere.”

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Biden admin unveils new actions to protect youth online

Work product will include resources for parents to better protect their children’s mental health, safety, and privacy online



Segment on social media platforms' harms to minors (Screenshot/YouTube CBS News)

WASHINGTON – The Biden-Harris administration announced a slate of new actions on Tuesday that are designed to better protect youth on social media and online platforms by applying a whole-of-government approach to address issues concerning mental health, safety, and privacy.

The White House noted that “undeniable” evidence links these technologies to the country’s “unprecedented youth mental health crisis,” with rates of depression and anxiety rising sharply among young people, including LGBTQ students, 69% of whom report having persistent feelings of sadness.

New actions previewed by the administration’s fact sheet [HYPERLINK] include the creation of an interagency Task Force on Kids Online Health & Safety, which will be administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in coordination with the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The task force will develop a blueprint for new research on the harms and health benefits to minors caused by online platforms, “recommend measures and methods for assessing, preventing, and mitigating” the harms, and “recommend best practices and technical standards for transparency reports and audits related to online harms to the privacy, health, and safety of children and teenagers.”

Work product from the task force will include resources for parents and legal guardians to better protect their children’s mental health, safety, and privacy online, as well as “voluntary guidance, policy recommendations, and a toolkit on safety, health, and privacy-by-design” for industry, with the latter expected by Spring 2024.

Other initiatives highlighted in the administration’s fact sheet include rulemaking by the U.S. Department of Education to protect the privacy of minor students’ data and address concerns with its monetization. The agency will also be tasked with drafting “model policies and voluntary best practices for school districts on the use of internet-enabled devices.”

Additionally, the White House announced, the Commerce Department will work to curb the online harassment and abuse of minors by “promoting awareness of services and support for youth victims,” while the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will coordinate efforts with the U.S. Department of Justice on new approaches to “detect and investigate offenses involving child sexual abuse material.”

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White House: New initiatives on homelessness & mental health

The White House on Thursday issued separate fact sheets outlining the Biden-Harris administration’s new initiatives



Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff tours the Chapman Partnership, a service facility for the homeless, Monday, January 16, 2023, in Miami, Florida. (Official White House Photo by Hannah Foslien)

WASHINGTON – The White House on Thursday issued separate fact sheets outlining the Biden-Harris administration’s new initiatives to tackle unsheltered homelessness and America’s mental health crisis.

The former, called ALL INside, will augment an existing federal strategic plan whose goal is to reduce homelessness by 25 percent by 2025 through partnerships with state and local governments “to strengthen and accelerate local efforts to get unsheltered people into homes in six places: Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix Metro, Seattle, and the State of California.”

According to data from the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall policy research institution, LGBTQ youth had 2.2 times the risk of reporting homelessness, and among those experiencing homelessness, had higher levels of adversity – for example, exchanging sex for basic needs and being physically harmed by others more frequently than their non-LGBTQ counterparts.

The Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law reports that “sexual minority adults are twice as likely as the general population to have experienced homelessness in their lifetime,” while “a higher proportion of transgender people report recent homelessness than sexual minority and cisgender straight people.”

Building on the Biden-Harris administration’s work addressing the country’s mental health crisis, the White House announced a slate of new initiatives that broadly aim to: “strengthen the mental health workforce and system capacity,” “connect more Americans to care,” and “create healthy and supportive environments,” each with specific goals and strategies.

While large scale studies evaluating mental health benchmarks have not often included the full spectrum of LGBTQ identities, there is strong evidence that “members of this community are at a higher risk for experiencing mental health conditions, especially depression and anxiety disorders,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

“LGB youth also experience greater risk for mental health conditions and suicidality,” NAMI reports, and “LGB youth are more than twice as likely to report experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness than their heterosexual peers.”

Trans youth, meanwhile, are twice as likely “to experience depressive symptoms, seriously consider suicide, and attempt suicide compared to cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and questioning youth.”

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Biden appoints gay fmr. Utah State Sen. to U.S. Export-Import Bank

Kitchen also credited the LGBTQ Victory Institute’s program on presidential appointments for his appointment to the independent agency



Utah State Senator Derek Kitchen (D) (Photo Credit: Senator Derek Kitchen/Facebook)

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Friday announced its appointment of Derek Kitchen to serve as acting senior vice president and deputy director of the Office of Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Kitchen, who is openly gay, represented Utah’s 2nd Senate District in the state legislature from 2019 to 2022 and was previously a member of the Salt Lake City Council.

“I am so proud to be called upon by President Biden to continue to serve our country,” he said in a statement. “With the President’s leadership, America is building a resilient economy and robust domestic manufacturing that benefits everyday Americans.”

Kitchen also credited the LGBTQ Victory Institute’s program on presidential appointments for his appointment to the independent agency, adding that he is proud to “bring my full self and lived experience” to the role.

As a plaintiff in Kitchen v. Herbert, Kitchen helped to bring marriage equality to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in 2013.

The Biden-Harris administration has appointed a record number of LGBTQ people to serve in positions across the federal government, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is gay, and Assistant Secretary of Health Admiral Rachel Levine, who is trans.

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Biden nominates Out former NY Rep. Maloney to ambassadorship

President Joe Biden nominated Maloney to be the next Representative of the U.S. to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development



Former New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney with husband Randy Florke, November 7, 2022. (Photo Credit: Maloney/Facebook)

WASHINGTON – The White House announced Friday that President Joe Biden has nominated former Democratic New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney to be the next Representative of the U.S. to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, with the rank of Ambassador.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development is an intergovernmental organization with 38 member countries, founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

He is the first openly LGBTQ+ person ever elected to Congress from New York and the highest ranking openly LGBTQ+ person ever to serve in the House. He and his husband, Randy Florke, recently celebrated their 30th anniversary together as couple and have raised three children together.

Maloney was elected five times to represent New York’s 18th congressional district in the U.S. House and served from 2013 to 2023. While in Congress, Maloney chaired both the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as well as the Commodity Markets, Digital Assets, and Rural Development Subcommittee of the House Committee on Agriculture.

He served additionally as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and was elected by his colleagues to House leadership in 2020. He is the author of more than 40 pieces of legislation that became law.

Prior to serving in the House, Maloney served as President Bill Clinton’s White House Staff Secretary, and leaving government service helped found a financial services software company, and worked as a partner at two global law firms.
Raised in Hanover, New Hampshire, as the youngest of six siblings, Maloney attended public elementary and high schools before earning undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Virginia. He worked as a volunteer with the Jesuits in rural Peru between college and law school from 1988 to 1989.

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Title 42 will end Thursday

Activists sharply criticize new U.S. asylum rules



Posters criticizing the Biden-Harris administration's immigration policy in D.C. on May 10, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

TIJUANA, Mexico — A rule that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the COVID-19 pandemic will expire on Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March 2020 implemented Title 42.

The Biden-Harris administration in April 2022 announced it would terminate the previous White House’s policy, but Republican attorneys general from Texas and more than a dozen other states filed a federal lawsuit.

The U.S. Supreme Court last December ruled Title 42 must remain in place. The Biden-Harris administration a few weeks later announced the COVID-19 public health emergency — and Title 42 — would end on Thursday. 

“Title 42 exacerbated already dangerous and often deadly situations for LGBTQI people seeking asylum,” San Diego Pride Executive Director Fernando Z. López told the Washington Blade on Tuesday. “It’s tenure caused additional strain on direct services, legal aid and community organizing resources that were felt on both sides of our cross-border region.”

Abdiel Echevarría-Caban, a South Texas-based immigration attorney who the LGBTQ+ Bar in 2021 recognized as one of its 40 best LGBTQ lawyers who are under 40, on Tuesday said Title 42 “needed to end a long time ago, given the country was open to accept travelers through all our airports.”

“It did not make sense to keep enforcing the policy when we have public health safety protocols in place already,” he said. “The use of a public health mechanism to deter asylum seekers at the Southwest border from seeking protection was barbaric, wrong and a misuse of public policy.” 

Echevarría-Caban further detailed the impact Title 42 had on LGBTQ+ and intersex people and other asylum seekers from vulnerable groups that he and other lawyers represented.

“Here, at the Southwest border, we had to request exemptions for people, especially women, children and LGBTQIA people, who were sent back to Mexico, and were exposed to further danger at the streets in Mexico, exposed to cartel violence, extortions, kidnapping and rape,” he said. “Here, in the United States, we have obligations under the Convention Against Torture. The United States was an active party in the development of our current international human rights and refugees system.”

Abdiel Echevarría-Caban, right, talks with Organización Pro Unión Ceibeña (Oprouce) Executive Director Sasha Rodríguez at her organization’s office in La Ceiba, Honduras, on July 20, 2021. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Associated Press notes the U.S. on Thursday will begin to deny asylum to migrants who don’t seek protection in a country through which they traveled or apply online before they reach the Southern border.

The Department of Homeland Security last fall created a humanitarian parole program for Venezuelans that it expanded to Cubans, Haitians and Nicaraguans in January.

A senior administration official on Tuesday said the Biden-Harris administration plans to “expand the family reunification parole programs” to Central American countries that include Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras and to Colombia.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who was born in Cuba, on April 27 announced the U.S. will open more than 100 “regional processing centers” throughout the Americas. A senior administration official on Tuesday said they “will facilitate a broad range of legal pathways, lawful pathways to the United States and eventually Canada and Spain as well.”

“Again, our goal is to add these centers to the set of legal pathways that already exist and that the administration has rolled out over the last two years,” said the official.

Another senior administration official said the U.S. has “a robust set of consequences for noncitizens who, despite having these options available to them, continue to cross unlawfully at the border.” 

They said the U.S. on Thursday will begin to return them to Mexico under Title 8 after it reached an agreement with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government. (Mexican prosecutors have announced they will charge the director of the country’s National Immigration Institute after a fire at an immigration detention center in Ciudad Juárez, a border city that is across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, killed 40 migrants on March 27. The Associated Press reported a security camera inside the facility recorded two guards who did not try to help the migrants who were inside the cell in which the fire began. The guards, according to the Associated Press, eventually walked away.)

“It also includes the circumvention of lawful pathways rule that we will be posting for public inspection tomorrow (Thursday) morning, and that rule will place significant conditions on asylum eligibility for individuals who do not take advantage of these robust lawful pathways that we have established, who do not schedule their safe and orderly presentation at the border using our CBP One mobile application, and who do not claim asylum in one of the countries that they travel through,” said the official. 

The official further noted the U.S. will begin “significantly expanding … our use of expedited removal at the border.”

“This is our traditional Title 8 consequence for individuals who are encountered between ports of entry,” said the official.

TransLatin@ Coalition President Bamby Salcedo on Wednesday told the Blade it is “unfortunate that instead of moving forward, we continue to go backwards.”

“The elimination of Title 42 will impact all of us, but specifically LGBTQ asylum seekers,” said Salcedo. “It is incomprehensible that this administration is taking this step. It’s about moving forward and bettering the lives of people, not taking away the gains that we have earned with hard work, blood and tears.”

Immigration Equality Legal Director Bridget Crawford in a statement also sharply criticized the Biden-Harris administration over its new rules for asylum seekers and migrants once Title 42 ends.

“We are astonished by the administration’s callous disregard of the dangers President Biden’s asylum ban imposes on LGBTQ refugees. In the final rule — scheduled to go into effect once the Title 42 policy is lifted — the administration doesn’t meaningfully address or fix problems with the ban we identified in the notice and comment process. Instead, using circular logic, the administration dismisses our concerns, and doubles down on the illegal implementation of the ban,” said Crawford. 

“This ban is a travesty that will cause LGBTQ refugees (and others) with strong, meritorious asylum claims to be sent back to countries where they will be persecuted or killed,” added Crawford. “By implementing this ban, instead of humane solutions that would effectively and compassionately manage the border, President Biden has broken his promise to protect LGBTQ asylum seekers and refugees.”

The Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration works with Jardín de las Mariposas, a shelter for LGBTQ+ and intersex migrants in the Mexican border city of Tijuana.

ORAM Executive Director Steve Roth on Wednesday said even though his organization “is glad to see an end to Title 42, an unlawful, Trump-era policy, we are deeply concerned about the new barriers to asylum put forward by the Biden administration.” 

“President Biden’s restrictions on asylum will have especially harmful and dangerous consequences for vulnerable LGBTIQ refugees and asylum seekers, leaving them in places where their safety will be at risk,” said Roth. “The administration’s new border policies will continue to deny many LGBTIQ refugees their legal right to seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Echevarría-Caban said the new policies will “pose more obstacles, and contrary to what is expected, it will increase the immigration court backlogs.”

“Our government needs to understand that we cannot use domestic law to weaponize immigration proceedings to avoid compliance with our international obligations or due process,” he told the Blade. “Due process is the core of our legal system, without it, who are we as a nation?”

Vice President Kamala Harris is among the administration officials who have publicly acknowledged violence based on gender identity and sexual orientation is among the factors that prompt LGBTQ and intersex people to leave Guatemala and other Central American countries.

Sources in Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez and other Mexican border cities this week have told the Blade that tens of thousands of migrants have arrived in their respective cities before Title 42 ends. It is not clear how many of them identify as LGBTQ+ or intersex, but violence in these cities remains commonplace. (The State Department currently advises U.S. citizens not to travel to the Mexico’s Tamaulipas state in which the border cities of Matamoros and Reynosa are located because of “crime and kidnapping.” The State Department also advises U.S. citizens to reconsider travel to Mexico’s Baja California, Sonora and Chihuahua states — which border California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas respectively — because of “crime and kidnapping.”)

El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on July 15, 2019. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Paloma de los Ángeles Villegas Pacheco, director of Trans Igualdad, a Transgender rights organization in Ciudad Juárez, on Tuesday told the Blade there “is disinformation” among LGBTQ and intersex migrants who are in the city.

“They think that they are going to be able to access the legal asylum process,” said Villegas. “It will be more difficult for them to enter (the U.S.) once Article 42 ends. The impact will be worse for them.”

Altagracia Tamayo is president of Centro Comunitario de Bienestar Social (COBINA), a group that works with LGBTQ+ and intersex people and other vulnerable groups in Mexicali, a Mexican border city that borders Calexico, Calif., in California’s Imperial Valley.

Tamayo said roughly a quarter of the 600 migrants who are currently living in the two shelters that COBINA operates are LGBTQ+. Tamayo, like Villegas, told the Blade there is “uncertainly” around the end of Title 42.

“The problem is that they think they are going to open the borders … they think they are going to receive them,” said Tamayo. “Article 8 is going to impose many, many restrictions.”

A fire destroyed a COBINA shelter in July 2021. Tamayo told the Blade her organization struggles to support the migrants who live in COBINA’s two remaining shelters.

“The heat is coming,” she said. (Summer temperatures in Mexicali frequently exceed 110°F) “We don’t have enough food to give them three meals a day. It is one of the problems of so much waiting, for so many months. It’s definitely very complicated.”

Mayorkas ‘clear-eyed’ about post-Title 42 challenges

Mayorkas on Wednesday during a press conference in D.C. said his agency is “clear-eyed about the challenges that we are likely to face in the days and weeks ahead, which have the potential to be very difficult.”

“Even after nearly two years of preparation, we expect to see large numbers of encounters at our Southern border in the days and weeks after May 11,” he said.

Mayorkas, nevertheless, stressed the end of Title 42 “does not mean our border is open.” He also reiterated the Biden-Harris administration’s immigration policy.

“We will once again process people at our Southern border using our immigration authorities under Title 8 of the United States code,” said Mayorkas. “Our overall approach is to build lawful pathways for people to come to the United States and to impose tougher consequences on those who chose not to use those pathways.”

“We are taking this approach within the constraints of a broken immigration system that Congress has not fixed for more than two decades and without the resources we need, personnel, facilities, transportation and others that we have requested of Congress and that we were not given,” he added.

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Biden issues proclamation on 70th anniversary of Lavender Scare

Eisenhower’s executive order barring homosexuals from employment in the federal government was not rescinded until 1995



(Photo courtesy of the Washington Historical Society)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden issued a formal proclamation Wednesday on the 70th anniversary of the Lavender Scare, a moral panic that caused investigations and firings of thousands of known or suspected gay men and lesbians who were working for the U.S. government.

“For so many members of the LGBTQI+ community, hate, discrimination, and isolation throughout our country’s history have denied them the full promise of America,” Biden said. “The Lavender Scare epitomized — and institutionalized — this injustice.”

The president said “we must reflect honestly on the darkest chapters of our story” to continue building on the “tremendous progress” that has been made since the Lavender Scare.

At the same time, he said, “the struggle for equal justice is not over” for LGBTQ people in America, noting the “wave of discriminatory laws that target them — especially transgender children — and that echo the hateful stereotypes and stigma” encountered by gay men and lesbians during the Cold War era

Beginning with the U.S. State Department’s purge of gay and lesbian employees in 1947, which was codified across the federal government by an executive order from President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, the Lavender Scare presaged and then paralleled the anti-communist McCarthyist crusades.

The senator himself was prone to using often-unsubstantiated allegations of homosexuality or communist sympathies to smear political opponents, once proclaiming, “If you want to be against McCarthy, boys, you’ve got to be either a Communist or a cocksucker.”

Conflating homosexuality with communism, or with harboring sympathies to communist foreign adversaries, was common at the time. Ultimately, though, a greater number of people would be fired over their known or suspected sexual orientation.

At a time when homosexuality was considered a mental illness and most gay and lesbian Americans were closeted, victims of the Lavender Scare often took their own lives after suffering public disgrace and rejection by their families and communities.

However, the homophobic moral panic also helped to spurn a then-nascent movement for LGBTQ civil rights.

After he was fired for being gay and declared ineligible for future employment in the federal government, the late activist Frank Kameny picketed at the White House to demand rights for gay rights and lesbians several years before the Stonewall Riots.

“In 2009,” Biden said, “I was proud to meet Frank Kameny in the Oval Office as President Obama and I officially expanded many Federal benefits to same-sex partners of Government employees.”

Eisenhower’s executive order barring homosexuals from employment in the federal government was not rescinded until 1995, with exemptions carved out for the U.S. Armed Forces that persisted until the 2011 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The State Department continued investigations of employees for homosexuality into the 1990s, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) noted in a 2016 letter calling for the agency to apologize.

A few months later, then-Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the Lavender Scare and the agency personnel who were harmed.

“On behalf of the department, I apologize to those who were impacted by the practices of the past and reaffirm the department’s steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion for all our employees, including members of the LGBTQ community,” Kerry said.

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White House welcomes ‘The L Word’ during Lesbian Visibility Week

The press secretary expressed how important it is for “so many people in the community” to “see diverse narratives that reflect their lives”



White House Press Secretary with actresses from Showtime's "The L Word," along with the show's co-creator, Ilene Chaiken (Washington Blade photo by Christopher Kane)

WASHINGTON – Flanked by four guests from Showtime’s “The L Word,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre began Tuesday’s briefing with comments commemorating Lesbian Visibility Week and addressing issues related to LGBTQ representation.

The first out Black LGBTQ press secretary expressed how important it is for “so many people in the community” to “see diverse narratives that reflect their lives,” recalling how she had “felt alone and often invisible” when growing up as “a young queer woman of color” in New York.

Jean-Pierre underlined the importance of this work in the current moment “as the LGBTQIA+ community continues to face relentless attacks.”

From “book bans to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws, MAGA extremists want to roll back the visibility and progress we fought so hard to achieve,” she said.

Hours earlier, in his long awaited video announcing plans to run for re-election in 2024, President Joe Biden used similar language — warning voters that “MAGA extremists” are “dictating what health care decisions women can make, banning books and telling people who they can love.”

After addressing LGBTQ Americans to repeat the promise that the Biden-Harris administration “has their back,” Jean-Pierre thanked the guests for their work on “The L Word” and turned the podium over for remarks by the show’s co-creator, writer and executive producer, Ilene Chaiken.

“We learned by the beautiful response to our show how profoundly important it is for people, particularly young people, to see themselves reflected in our entertainment culture and to know that they’re embraced, valued and not alone,” Chaiken said.

“We’re galvanized by President Biden’s leadership, from strengthening non discrimination protections for our communities to signing the Respect for Marriage Act into law to supporting LGBTQI kids and their parents,” she said.

Calling Biden “the most pro-LGBTQI president in our history,” Chaiken concluded her comments by thanking him “for giving us the first out lesbian press secretary, who represents hope and possibility for so many people.”

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Biden criticizes GOP-led efforts to ban books

Addressing an audience in the Rose Garden the President said “Empty shelves don’t help kids learn very much”



President Joe Biden speaking in the Rose Garden at the White House over GOP book banning efforts. (Screen shot/BBC Television)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden criticized Republicans for the increasingly widespread practice of banning books from America’s schools and libraries in prepared remarks delivered on Monday.

Addressing an audience gathered in the Rose Garden for the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Teachers of the Year event, the President said “Empty shelves don’t help kids learn very much,” adding, “I’ve never met a parent who wants a politician dictating what their kid can learn, and what they can think, or who they can be.”

By framing these policies as government overreach, the president co-opted and repurposed the “parental rights” language commonly used by conservatives who are advocating for book bans.

For example, right-wing activists, such as the Florida-based Moms for Liberty, often argue that requiring schools and libraries to allow interested parties to review the materials made available to minors and lodge complaints with anything they may find objectionable, rightfully restores the rights of parents to exercise more control over how their children are educated.

According to PEN America, however, the first half of the 2022-2023 school year has seen at least 1,477 attempts to ban 874 individual book titles, disproportionately targeting materials that include LGBTQ characters or themes or those which address issues of racial justice.

Explicitly targeting these materials for censorship are elected officials like Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his conservative allies in the state House, who last week expanded the controversial “Don’t Say Gay” law (officially known as the Parental Rights in Education Act), which Biden has called “hateful.”

Critics have long argued the law, which will now cover all grade levels in Florida’s public schools, uses overly broad language with the scepter of many different enforcement mechanisms to create a chilling effect designed to discourage teachers and staff from offering affirming messages to LGBTQ students or from serving openly if they themselves are LGBTQ.

“By opening the door to arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement against speech that favors or promotes the inclusion and acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals,” the American Bar Association wrote, “the law arguably runs afoul of the First Amendment’s stringent prohibition on viewpoint discrimination and imposes an unconstitutional chilling effect on disfavored speech.”

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The White House

Malcolm Kenyatta, Marisa Richmond, to join advisory commission

The Commission will advise the president on matters “pertaining to educational equity and economic opportunity for the Black community”



President Joe Biden, Malcolm Kenyatta, and Vice President Kamala Harris (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

WASHINGTON – The White House on Friday announced plans to appoint Out Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-181) and transgender Middle Tennessee State University Professor Marisa Richmond, to serve on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Black Americans.

In their respective roles as the Commission’s chair and one of its 20 members, Kenyatta and Richmond will join the record breaking number of LGBTQ appointees serving in the Biden-Harris administration.

The White House also noted the pro-LGBTQ advocacy work of another appointee picked to serve on the Commission, National Education Association (NEA) President Becky Pringle.

The Commission’s work will include advising President Joe Biden through U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on matters “pertaining to educational equity and economic opportunity for the Black community.”

“The expertise represented on this commission will be an invaluable resource to our Department and to the President as we work to Raise the Bar in education and ensure that all Black children have access to an academically rigorous education, safe and healthy learning environments, supportive school communities, and multiple pathways to college and career,” Cardona said in a statement Friday.

Kenyatta became the first openly LGBTQ person of color to serve in the Pennsylvania General Assembly with his election in 2018. And he made history again last year as America’s first LGBTQ person of color to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

“I’m humbled by your faith in me,” Kenyatta wrote in a tweet thanking the President for appointing him chair of the Commission.

Along with her roles with the Commission and at the University, Richmond serves as president of the Tennessee Federation of Democratic Women, co-chair of the Transgender Advisory Committee of the Democratic National Committee, and the first transgender member of the Metro Human Relations Commission.

When leading the NEA, America’s largest labor union and professional employee organization, Pringle proclaimed in a speech last year: “We will say gay. We will say trans. We will use the words that validate our students and their families; words that encourage them to walk in their authenticity; to love themselves fully to become who they are meant to be!”

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