President Biden welcomed guests to the White House lawn on Saturday afternoon to celebrate Pride Month and show the administration’s support for LGBTQ rights — just days after announcing a flurry of new protections for the community.
The picnic event — described as the “largest” Pride event hosted at the White House — was originally scheduled for Thursday, but was postponed due to air quality issues stemming from wildfires in Canada. But, with the haze mostly gone, Biden and first lady Jill Biden addressed the community.
“Today, I want to send a message to the entire community — especially to transgender children: You are loved. You are heard. You’re understood,” Biden said during his speech. “And you belong.”
“We see who you are: made in the image of God, deserving of dignity, respect, and support,” he added.
The president also reiterated to the crowd that protecting LGBTQ rights is a “top priority” for his administration. He touted a series of measures from various federal agencies announced on Thursday that intend to support the community and counteract actions from GOP-led states that have targeted transgender youth and other groups.
This includes proposals from the Department of Education, Department of Housing and Urban Development and other agencies to provide housing support and push back on book bans that disproportionately affect LGBTQ youth.
“Whether you’re organizing a Pride parade, running a small business, or just trying to focus at school, you should have — you shouldn’t have to deal with bomb threats, harassment, and violent attacks,” Biden said.
But, the president acknowledged that the fight isn’t over.
“For all the progress we’ve made, we know challenges still remain,” he said Saturday, adding “When a person can be married in the morning but thrown out of a restaurant for being gay in the afternoon, something is still very wrong in America.”
Notably in attendance were Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine and Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride.
The event also comes as more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced this year in 41 states.
More than 220 pieces of legislation explicitly target transgender people, according to the Human Rights campaign, which issued a national emergency for the community earlier this week. The group also said in its warning that more than than 76 anti-LGBTQ bills have become law this year.
Biden on Thursday called anti-LGBTQ legislation an “appeal to fear” that is “thoroughly unjustified and ugly.”
“These are our kids, these are our neighbors; it’s cruel and it’s callous,” he said during a press conference with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the White House. “It’s not somebody else’s kids, it’s all our kids, and our children are the kite strings that hold our national ambitions aloft.”
“It matters a great deal how we treat everyone in this country,” Biden added.
Source: The Hill