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Biden recognizes LGBTQ Pride Month

In his presidential proclamation, Biden called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in many areas of life.
Image: New Yorkers celebrate Joe Biden's presidential victory in New York City on Nov. 7, 2020.
New Yorkers celebrate Joe Biden's presidential victory on Nov. 7, 2020. Amy Lombard / for NBC News file

President Joe Biden on Monday recognized Pride Month, saying he "will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law."

"During LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we recognize the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically," Biden wrote in a presidential proclamation declaring June Pride Month. "In doing so, they are opening hearts and minds, and laying the foundation for a more just and equitable America."

Biden — whose administration has been described by advocates as the most pro-LGBTQ administration in history — recognized the many LGBTQ firsts achieved so far during his presidency.

Nearly 14 percent of his 1,500 agency appointees identify as LGBTQ, he wrote. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg became the first openly LGBTQ person to serve in the Cabinet, and Assistant Health Secretary Rachel Levine became the first openly transgender person confirmed by the Senate.

On his first day in office, Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to protect LGBTQ people under all federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex.

As a result, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced in February that LGBTQ people would be protected from housing discrimination by federal law for the first time in history.

Biden also reversed the Trump administration's ban on transgender people openly enlisting and serving in the military, and a proposal that would've allowed health care providers and organizations receiving federal funds to discriminate against transgender people.

In addition, he issued an executive order expanding Title IX to protect LGBTQ students, and particularly trans students, from discrimination.

But, "for all of our progress, there are many States in which LGBTQ+ individuals still lack protections for fundamental rights and dignity in hospitals, schools, public accommodations, and other spaces," he wrote in Tuesday's proclamation. 

He added that there are "tragic levels of violence against transgender people, especially transgender women of color." So far in 2021, at least 27 trans people have been killed due to violence, according to the Human Rights Campaign, compared to at least 13 at this point last year (though advocates say those numbers are likely low, given that police often deadname trans people in police reports or misidentify them).

Biden also acknowledged — for the first time in a statement — the state bills that seek to ban trans student athletes from participating on sports teams that align with their gender, and others that would ban trans minors' access to transition-related health care.

"Some States have chosen to actively target transgender youth through discriminatory bills that defy our Nation’s values of inclusivity and freedom for all," Biden wrote.

He called on Congress to pass the Equality Act — a bill that would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in housing, education, health care, public accommodations, credit and many other areas of life. The bill has been stalled in the Senate since a hearing in March.

Biden's proclamation is a departure from the Trump administration's recognition of Pride Month. During Trump's presidency, he acknowledged LGBTQ Pride once in a tweet in June 2019.

That same year, his administration rejected requests from U.S. embassies to fly the LGBTQ Pride flag — a move the Biden administration reversed in April.

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