President Joe Biden, recognizing National Coming Out Day, released a statement on Monday criticizing states that have attempted to pass anti-LGBTQ+ laws and urging the Senate to pass the long-awaited Equality Act.
Biden characterized state legislation targeting the LGBTQ+ community as “discriminatory,” adding, the United States has “more work to do to ensure” that Americans aren’t forced to live in fear of being harassed “because of who they are or whom they love.”
Biden stated his administration is committed to ensuring that LGBTQ+ individuals can live “openly, proudly, and freely in every corner of our nation.”
The president added he wants every member of the LGBTQ+ community to “know that you are loved and accepted just the way you are – regardless of whether or not you’ve come out.”
Since the start of 2020, legislators in at least 25 states have introduced more than 75 bills that target LGBTQ+ people, many specifically directed at transgender youth, according to a tally compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union. A variety of these measures intend to bar or criminalize healthcare for transgender youth, bar access to the use of appropriate facilities like restrooms, or restrict transgender students’ ability to participate in school and sports fully, the ACLU states. In February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, which aims to prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, in a 224-206 vote. The Equality Act would amend federal law, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Act, to explicitly include anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. The bill would also expand anti-discrimination protections to cover all federally funded programs and public spaces and services.
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The Equality Act will need 60 votes to pass in the Senate. It had previously passed the House in 2019 but later died in the upper chamber of Congress. However, lawmakers have expressed newfound confidence about obtaining the 60 votes required to pass the legislation. “This time, it will be not only passed in the House, but on a path to a signing at the White House. We’re very excited about that,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in late February.
“Anti-LGBTQ+ bills still proliferate in state legislatures. Bullying and harassment—particularly of young transgender Americans and LGBTQ+ people of color—still abound, diminishing our national character,” Biden stated Monday.
Following a study that found systemic gender stereotypes stifle many children, Lego, the world’s largest toymaker, announced Monday its future products and marketing would be free of gender bias and harmful stereotypes.
Statement by President Biden On National Coming Out Day (WhiteHouse.gov)