Biden Slams Restricting LGBTQ+ Rights 06/09 06:03
President Joe Biden on Thursday condemned a wave of "cruel" and "callous"
state laws curbing the rights, visibility and health care access of LGBTQ+
people, especially children, leaving them feeling under attack like never
before and the White House with limited options to intervene.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden on Thursday condemned a wave of
"cruel" and "callous" state laws curbing the rights, visibility and health care
access of LGBTQ+ people, especially children, leaving them feeling under attack
like never before and the White House with limited options to intervene.
"These are our kids. These are our neighbors. It's cruel and it's callous,"
Biden said at a White House news conference with British Prime Minister Rishi
Sunak. "It matters a great deal how we treat everyone in this country."
Biden commented hours after the White House postponed a large Pride Month
celebration with thousands of guests Thursday night on the South Lawn because
of poor air quality from hazardous air flowing in from Canadian wildfires.
The president noted steps he has taken to help protect the rights of
non-heterosexual people, but said "our fight is far, far from over because we
have some hysterical and, I would argue, prejudiced people who are engaged in
all what you see going on around the country."
He said what is happening in some states is an "unjustified and ugly" appeal
to fear and called on lawmakers to pass legislation, which has been stalled in
Congress, that would protect the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender and queer individuals.
"Congress must pass, must pass the Equality Act and send it to my desk,"
Biden said of a legislative measure he had named a top priority during his 2020
The president then spoke directly to LGBTQ+ Americans, especially children.
"You're loved, you're heard and this administration has your back, and I mean
it. We are not relenting one single second to make sure that they're protected."
Biden also described new initiatives the administration announced earlier
Thursday to protect LGBTQ+ communities from attack, help young people in foster
care, suffering with mental health or experiencing homelessness, and to counter
book bans, though the effects may be limited.
Thousands of guests had been invited from around the country for an evening
filled with food, games and other activities on the South Lawn. Queen HD the DJ
was handling the music, and singer Betty Who was on tap to perform.
But the nation's capital by late morning Thursday was under a "code purple"
air quality alert, the fifth-highest level on the six-level U.S. air quality
index, with authorities recommending that everyone limit their exposure to the
hazardous smoke wafting south from Canada. District of Columbia schools
canceled all outdoor activities for a second day Thursday, and the National Zoo
The White House initially resisted altering its plans for the celebration,
even as the air quality steadily worsened along the East Coast on Wednesday and
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest advocacy organization for
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer individuals, marked June's Pride
Month by declaring a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ individuals in the United
States and releasing a guidebook outlining laws it deems discriminatory in each
The campaign said it acted in response to an "unprecedented and dangerous"
spike in discriminatory laws sweeping statehouses this year, with more than 525
anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced and more than 70 signed into law so far -- more
than double last year's number.
Kelley Robinson, the campaign's president, called for a "swift and powerful"
response by people in power, including in government, business and education.
"This is a full-out crisis for our communities that demands a concerted
response," she said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think this is
kind of a national call to action and a call to arms to stand up and fight
Biden, a Democrat, announced that the Department of Homeland Security,
working with the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, will
partner with LGBTQ+ community organizations to provide safety resources and
training to help thwart violent attacks.
Separately, HHS and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will
provide resources to help LGBTQ+ young people with mental health needs, support
in foster care and homelessness.
To confront a spike in book bans, the Department of Education's civil rights
office will appoint a new coordinator to work with schools to address that
threat. The White House said banning books erodes democracy, deprives students
of material needed for learning and can contribute to the stigma and isolation
that LGBTQ+ youth feel because books about them are often the ones that are
Biden has many LGBTQ+ people serving in prominent positions throughout
government, such as Karine Jean-Pierre, the first openly gay White House press
secretary. He signed legislation to protect marriage equality and lifted a ban
on transgender people serving in the military.
Polls show public support for the rights of people who are gay and lesbian
has expanded dramatically over the last two decades, with about 7 in 10 U.S.
adults in polling by Gallup saying that same-sex marriages should be legally
valid and that gay and lesbian relationships are morally acceptable.
But attitudes toward transgender people are complex: In polls conducted in
2022 by KFF and the Washington Post and by the Pew Research Center, majorities
said they support laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in
areas such as housing, jobs and schools.
At the same time, both polls found that a majority of Americans think that
whether someone is a man or a woman is determined by sex assigned at birth.
Many also support restrictive policies aimed at people who are transgender, for
example preventing transgender women and girls from participating in sports
teams matching their gender identity, along with restrictions on access to
certain medical treatments.