President Joe Biden denounced Republicans’ “callous” and “hysterical” attacks on the LGBTQ+ community during a Thursday joint press conference with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
During the conference, a reporter asked Biden about the wave of state legislation targeting LGBTQ+ people. Biden mentioned his administration’s efforts to protect LGBTQ+ rights, including signing the Respect for Marriage Act and restoring rights for transgender students.
Biden said that the LGBTQ+ movement “has grown stronger, more vibrant, and more inclusive with every passing year.”
However, Biden 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. It’s an appeal to fear, and it’s an appeal that is totally, thoroughly unjustified and ugly.”
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“These are our kids, these are our neighbors; it’s cruel and it’s callous,” Biden said. “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.”
He then urged legislators to pass the Equality Act, national legislation that would protect LGBTQ+ people’s rights. It would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, extending anti-discrimination protections to employment, housing, education, public accommodations, and other areas.
Speaking directly to LGBTQ+ people, Biden said, “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’s comments followed the postponement of the White House Pride celebration due to poor air quality from Canadian wildfires.
Earlier in the day, the Biden administration unveiled its three-point plan to protect the LGBTQ+ community from violence, school book bans, and poor mental health outcomes for queer youth (especially those who are homeless or in the foster care system).
Earlier in the week, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) declared a national emergency for LGBTQ+ people. The HRC’s declaration noted that over 75 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been signed into law this year, more than doubling 2022’s number. These laws have included bans on drag performances, trans bathroom use, trans athletes on school sports teams, LGBTQ+ content in schools, and gender-affirming care for trans youth.