It was an LGBTQ kind of day at the White House today as President Biden hosted a reception for LGBTQ leaders in honor of Pride Month.
President Biden declared “Pride is back at the White House” during the celebration as he made note of the efforts his administration has made on behalf of the LGBTQ community since being sworn into office.
“We’re also making progress, but I know we still have a long way to go, a lot of work to do,” Biden said. “We must protect the gains we’ve made and fend off the cruel and unconscionable attacks that we’re seeing now to ensure the full promise of dignity and equal protection.”
Out Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg began the proceedings in the East Room by recognizing the years of work by LGBTQ leaders. “So many lives have been changed, saved by the sustained advocacy, the moral resolve, the political courage of countless LGBTQ+ leaders and allies, some elected, some invisible, some long gone, some in this room right now.”
Ashton Mota, a 16-year-old transgender advocate from Lowell, Mass., and a leader with the GenderCool Project, introduced the president.
During his remarks, Biden renewed his call for passage of the Equality Act which has passed in the House but is languishing in the Senate.
He also noted the recent spate of state laws targeting transgender youth, including restricting their access to transition-related health care and schools sports. “Let’s be clear – this is bullying against kids disguised as legislation,” said the president. “And it must stop.”
Biden also named Jessica Stern, currently executive director of OutRight Action International, as a special diplomatic envoy at the State Department for LGBTQ rights. Her responsibilities will include ensuring that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect LGBTQ rights around the world.
Additionally, Biden signed into law a congressional resolution designating the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, as a national memorial. On June 12, 2016, the club was the site of the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in U.S. history when Omar Mateen opened fire on club goers killing 49 people and wounding 53 more.
“A place of acceptance and joy became a place of unspeakable pain and loss,” Biden said, “We’ll never fully recover but we’ll remember.”