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Campaign seeks national park to honor Stonewall Riots

Nadler announces plans days before debut of film on uprising



Advocates are pushing for a national park ahead of the debut of 'Stonewall.' (Photo by Philippe Bosse)

Advocates are pushing for a national park recognizing the Stonewall riots ahead of the debut of ‘Stonewall.’ (Photo by Philippe Bosse)

More than 40 years ago, after witnessing the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, lesbian activist Martha Shelley led the coordination of a parade observing the one-year anniversary of the historic event. That subsequent demonstration on Christopher Street started the annual tradition of Pride parades in support of LGBT rights.

Now she’s working with a new campaign calling for designation of a national park site recognizing the initial uprising that was key to starting the modern LGBT movement.

“It’s important for people to know the history, and instead of being a shameful secret and being the kind of people who get destroyed really for being who they are, we ought to be celebrated for who we are,” Shelley said. “And it’s important for people to understand change has happened, those kinds of changes, because ordinary people protest, because ordinary people are out in the street.”

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) are set to announce on Sunday the new initiative at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Joined by LGBT advocates and community allies, they plan to call for designation of a national park site days before the debut of the “Stonewall” motion picture depicting the uprising for which they’re seeking recognition.

In an interview with the Washington Blade, Nadler said the designation of a national monument recognizing the riots — which began after patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back against police  during a raid — is important for many reasons.

“The National Park Service, through national monuments, through national battlefields, all kinds of national things, illustrates the story of this country,” Nadler said. “It’s important to expand the diversity of this story presented by the National Park Service, in this case, to present the story of the struggle for civil rights of LGBT Americans. There is nothing in the National Park System that deals with this, and that’s a huge omission in terms of the history of this country, the history of this struggle and the ongoing struggle for human rights.”

Of the more than 400 national parks in America, two-thirds are dedicated to sites of cultural and historic significance. The Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, N.Y., tells the story of the first Women’s Rights Convention held there in July 1848. In Alabama, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail traces the march led by black activists in their struggle for civil rights.

Drawing on President Obama’s invocation of Selma, Seneca Falls and Stonewall in his second inaugural address, Nadler said the designation of a site for Stonewall would enable the National Park Service to “tell the whole story” of the civil rights movement.

Among the groups coordinating the campaign is the National Parks Conservation Association, a non-profit that advocates for the national parks and the National Park Service.

Cortney Worrall, Northeast regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association, said her organization about a year ago started to hold informal discussions with New York’s LGBT community about designating a national monument for the Stonewall uprising.

“Over several months, the overwhelming feedback that we received was ‘Please do!'” Worrall said. “It was just overwhelmingly positive and pointed us in the direction that this could be a national campaign to establish the first LGBT unit within the park system to commemorate the birth of the modern LGBT civil rights movement.”

Other supporters of the campaign include Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), all but one member of New York City’s delegation to the U.S. House, 13 state senators, 36 state Assembly members, five city council members as well as the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union and Log Cabin Republicans.

The U.S. government already designated the privately owned Stonewall Inn in 2000 as a national historic landmark, but that’s considered a lower-tier designation given to 2,500 sites throughout the country.

Last year, the Department of the Interior announced it was undertaking a theme study to examine ways to incorporate LGBT stories into the the National Park Service. The new effort to have a national monument dedicated to the Stonewall Riots shares a similar goal, but is separate and distinct from the agency-led initiative.

Worrall identified two ways to designate a national park. The formal way is through legislation passed by Congress; the other is for the president under the authority of a 1906 law known as the Antiquities Act to designate a national monument.

“It’s a designation of national monument, but…for all intents and purposes, it is a national park,” Worrall said. “He would be designating it as a national park. And he does not require congressional approval for this at all; this is something that he has the administrative authority to do.”

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether President Obama would be willing to designate a national monument for the Stonewall demonstrations.

Jessica Kershaw, a spokesperson for the Department of the Interior, said the Obama administration isn’t in a position to comment on the proposal.

“That should not diminish the department’s commitment to capturing and telling a broader story of our nation and more stories reflective of all Americans and their experience, as the park service approaches its centennial in the next year,” Kershaw said. “That commitment is exemplified in the service’s current work underway to research and collect these stories and sites through its ongoing LGBT theme study.”

Worrall said those behind the campaign have informed the White House about the initiative, but “we’ve not heard anything other than that they’re interested in hearing more.”

As for the legislative route, Nadler said he plans to soon introduce a bill that would designate a national park in honor of the Stonewall uprising. Still, the New York lawmaker said in the GOP-controlled Congress he’s “not terribly hopeful that my Republican colleagues will rush to celebrate the freedom that was fought for at Stonewall.”

It’s the fear of a potential Republican administration in 2017 that’s prompting Nadler to call for Obama to act before his second term is over. Nadler said he’s “confident” Obama will take action when land ownership issues regarding the site are resolved.

“If, God forbid, a Republican happens to be elected president, and this hasn’t been already, one doesn’t have confidence in the fact that Log Cabin Republicans are supporting this means that Donald Trump, or [Scott] Walker, or whoever it might be would do so,” Nadler said. “We hope it’s before then.”

One site advocates are pushing for designation as a historic site to commemorate the Stonewall uprising is Christopher Park, the area across the street from the Stonewall Inn where the rioting began.

But the president can only designate a national monument on federal property and Christopher Park is owned by New York City. Advocates pushing for the recognition are seeking to have New York City Parks & Recreation transfer ownership of the park to the federal government.

Nadler said the process for such a transfer requires involvement from New York City and a meeting of the local community board to meet, adding, “I hope and believe it will not be an insurmountable issue.”

“We don’t know exactly what would be designated, but, for example, the park in front of the Stonewall Inn is owned by the city, so somehow, and we’d have to work that out,” Nadler said. “It has to become at least legally federal land, and the National Park Service is working with New York City to figure out how to meet the federal legal requirements so the president can make the designation.”

Among those to speak at the launch for the new campaign is New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Mitchell Silver.

“Memorializing the historic events that occurred at Stonewall goes a long way toward validating the struggle, and sacrifice of self, that many in the LGBTQ community made then and continue to make now,” Silver said in a statement. “Let’s make history again, nearly 50 years later.”

The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation didn’t respond to a follow-up email over the weekend on whether that means the city would be open to transferring Christopher Park to the federal government.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed the campaign in a statement to the Washington Blade emphasizing the importance of the Stonewall riots.

“Stonewall represents a seminal moment in American history, and in the history of civil rights,” de Blasio said. “This site deserves to be honored for the brave people who stood here against injustice. Their actions served as a catalyst for the equal rights movement and should never be forgotten.”

Should a national site be designated in honor of the uprising, Worall said it would be a “monumental event” that would keep alive the events that took place outside the Stonewall Inn more than 40 years ago.

“We know that the bartenders are asked questions by the public about what happened there and what their experience was and whether they were there or not,” Worall said. “We also know that the bar has on occasion gotten phone calls from children doing book reports on the history of LGBT civil rights rights and just on Stonewall itself, and so we know that there is demand for interpretation of this story and of the history of what happened during the uprising. And the National Park Service is the best entity we have in the country to do that.”

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  1. GayEGO

    September 20, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    We should have such a monument which represents our struggle of being accepted as part of normal civilization. Religion has been such a key factor in holding us back and now we have some religions learning and changing to accept us, performing same-gender marriages.

  2. Grant Macdonald

    September 20, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    black, left-handed or being gay is just as natural. It is a sometimes rare occurrence to fall in
    Love and to hold that person in your heart and be loved in return … it is
    something that should be celebrated! If
    it’s between two guys or two girls — all the better. It takes even more courage to defend that

    • CaptDMO

      September 21, 2015 at 7:27 am

      All the better? Why?
      Stonewall? Why?
      How much of Stonewall was all about “Love and to hold that person in your heart” ?
      Does Plato’s Retreat, or Studio 54 merit a “national park” to celebrate the “culture”? Granted, they didn’t spill out into the streets, leave garbage all about, and increasingly destroy the peaceful quality of life in a growing area “after hours”.
      I’m just saying that MAYBE “Stonewall” is the wrong “icon” to celebrate
      “Can’t we all just get along?”, if that were the actual intent.

    • GayEGO

      September 21, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you! My lifetime partner of 53 years and I have been married 11 years and are both retired, living the American dream.

  3. CaptDMO

    September 21, 2015 at 7:05 am

    A national park?
    Rest stops along the New Jersey Turnpike aren’t enough?

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Top 10 Blade news stories by web traffic

COVID breakthroughs, Equality Act, and anti-trans attacks



Elliot Page created excitement by posting his first photo in swim trunks back in May.

Each year our staff gathers in late December to review the highest trafficked stories of the year and there’s more than a little bit of competitive spirit as we review the results. Here are the top 10 stories by web traffic at  HYPERLINK “” for 2021.

#10: Mark Glaze, gun reform advocate, dies at 51

The sad, tragic story of Glaze’s death captivated readers in November. 

#9: COVID breakthrough infections strike summer tourists visiting Provincetown

This one went viral in July after a COVID outbreak was blamed on gay tourists.

#8: Thank you, Kordell Stewart, for thoughtful response to ‘the rumor’

This opinion piece thanked the former NFL quarterback for writing a personal essay addressing gay rumors. 

#7: Elliot Page tweets; trans bb’s first swim trunks #transjoy #transisbeautiful

The actor created excitement by posting his first photo in swim trunks back in May.

#6: Romney declares opposition to LGBTQ Equality Act

Mitt Romney disappointed activists with his announcement; the Equality Act passed the House but never saw a vote in the Senate.

#5: White House warns state legislatures that passing anti-trans bills is illegal

The year 2021 saw a disturbing trend of GOP-led legislatures attacking trans people.

#4: Lincoln Project’s avowed ignorance of Weaver texts undercut by leaked communications

The Lincoln Project’s leaders, amid a scandal of co-founder John Weaver soliciting sexual favors from young men, have asserted they were unaware of his indiscretions until the Blade obtained electronic communications that called that claim into question.

#3: FOX 5’s McCoy suspended over offensive Tweet

Blake McCoy tweeted that obese people shouldn’t get priority for the COVID vaccine. 

#2: Transgender USAF veteran trapped in Taliban takeover of Kabul

Among the Americans trapped in the suburban areas of Kabul under Taliban control was a transgender government contractor for the U.S. State Department and former U.S. Air Force Sergeant. She was later safely evacuated.

#1: Amid coup chaos, Trump quietly erases LGBTQ protections in adoption, health services

And our most popular story of 2021 was about the Trump administration nixing regulations barring federal grantees in the Department of Health & Human Services from discriminating against LGBTQ people, including in adoption services.

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CDC still falling short on LGBTQ data collection for COVID patients: expert



COVID-19 vaccine, gay news, Washington Blade
The CDC is still not issuing guidance to states on LGBTQ data collection among COVID patients.

Despite requests since the start of the COVID pandemic for the U.S. government to enhance data collection for patients who are LGBTQ, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is still falling short on issuing nationwide guidance to states on the issue, a leading expert health on the issue told the Blade.

With a renewed focus on COVID infections reaching new heights just before the start of the holidays amid the emergence of Omicron, the absence of any LGBTQ data collection — now across both the Trump and Biden administrations — remains a sore point for health experts who say that information could be used for public outreach.

Sean Cahill, director of Health Policy Research at the Boston-based Fenway Institute, said Wednesday major federal entities and hospitals have been collecting data on whether patients identify as LGBTQ for years — such as the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey, which has been collecting sexual orientation data since the 1990s — but the CDC hasn’t duplicated that effort for COVID even though the pandemic has been underway for two years.

“It’s not like this is a new idea,” Cahill said. “But for some reason, the pandemic hit, and all of a sudden, we realize how little systematic data we were collecting in our health system. And it’s a real problem because we’re two years into the pandemic almost, and we still don’t know how it’s affecting this vulnerable population that experiences health disparities in other areas.”

The Blade was among the first outlets to report on the lack of efforts by the states to collect data on whether a COVID patient identifies as LGBTQ, reporting in April 2020 on the absence of data even in places with influential LGBTQ communities. The CDC hasn’t responded to the Blade’s requests for nearly two years on why it doesn’t instruct states to collect this data, nor did it respond this week to a request for comment on this article.

Cahill, who has published articles in the American Journal of Public Health on the importance of LGBTQ data collection and reporting in COVID-19 testing, care, and vaccination — said he’s been making the case to the CDC to issue guidance to states on whether COVID patients identify as LGBTQ since June 2020.

Among those efforts, he said, were to include two comments he delivered to the Biden COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force in spring 2021, a letter a coalition of groups sent to the Association of State & Territorial Health Officers asking for states to collect and report SOGI in COVID in December 2020 as well as letters to HHS leadership and congressional leadership in spring and summer 2020 asking for them to take steps to encourage or require SOGI data collection in COVID.

Asked what CDC officials had to say in response when he brought this issue to their attention, Cahill said, “They listen, but they don’t really tell me anything.”

“We’ve been making that case, and to date, as of December 22, 2021, they have not issued guidance, they have not changed the case report form. I hope that they’re in the process of doing that, and maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised in January, and they’ll come up with something…I really hope that’s true, but right now they’re not doing anything to promote SOGI data collection and reporting in surveillance data.”

Cahill, in an email to the Blade after the initial publication of this article, clarified CDC has indicated guidance on LGBTQ data collection for COVID patients may come in the near future.

“HHS leaders told us this fall that CDC is working on an initiative to expand SOGI data collection,” Cahill said. “We are hopeful that we will see guidance early in 2022. Key people at CDC, including Director Walensky, understand the importance of SOGI data collection given their long history of working on HIV prevention.”

In other issues related to LGBTQ data collection, there has been a history of states resisting federal mandates. The Trump administration, for example, rescinded guidance calling on states to collect information on whether foster youth identified as LGBTQ after complaints from states on the Obama-era process, much to the consternation of LGBTQ advocates who said the data was helpful.

The White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force has at least recognized the potential for enhancing LGBTQ data collection efforts. Last month, it published an implementation plan, calling for “an equity-centered approach to data collection, including sufficient funding to collect data for groups that are often left out of data collection (e.g….LGBTQIA+ people).”

The plan also calls for “fund[ing] activities to improve data collection…including tracking COVID-19 related outcomes for people of color and other underserved populations,” and specifically calls for the collection of LGBTQ data.

The importance of collecting LGBTQ data, Cahill said, is based on its potential use in public outreach, including efforts to recognize disparities in health population and to create messaging for outreach, including for populations that may be reluctant to take the vaccine.

“If we see a disparity, we can say: Why is that?” Cahill said. “We could do focus groups of the population — try to understand and then what kind of messages would reassure you and make you feel comfortable getting a vaccine, and we could push those messages out through public education campaigns led by state local health departments led by the federal government.”

The LGBTQ data, Cahill said, could be broken down further to determine if racial and ethnic disparities exist within the LGBTQ population, or whether LGBTQ people are likely to suffer from the disease in certain regions, such as the South.

“We have data showing that lesbian or bisexual women, and transgender people are less likely to be in preventive regular routine care for their health,” Cahill said. “And so if that’s true, there’s a good chance that they’re less likely to know where to get a vaccine, to have a medical professional they trust to talk to about it today.”

Among the leaders who are supportive, Cahill said, is Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health and the first openly transgender person confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a presidential appointment. Cahill said he raised the issue with her along with other officials at the Department of Health & Human Services three times in the last year.

In her previous role as Pennsylvania secretary of health, Levine led the way and made her state the first in the nation to set up an LGBTQ data collection system for COVID patients.

“So she definitely gets it, and I know she’s supportive of it, but we really need the CDC to act,” Cahill said.

Although the federal government has remained intransigent in taking action, Cahill said the situation has improved among states and counted five states — California, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Nevada and Oregon — in addition to D.C. as among those that have elected to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity of COVID patients.

However, Cahill said even those data collection efforts are falling short because those jurisdictions have merely been public about collecting the data, but haven’t reported back anything yet.

“Only California has reported data publicly, and the data that they’re reporting is really just the completeness of the data,” Cahill said. “They’re not reporting the data itself…And they’re also just asking people who tests positive. So, if somebody says positive COVID in California, a contact tracer follows up with that individual and asks them a battery of questions, and among the questions that are asked are SOGI questions.”

As a result of these efforts, Cahill said, California has data on the LGBTQ status of COVID patients, but the data is overwhelmingly more complete for the gender identity of these patients rather than their sexual orientation. As of May 2021, California reported that they had sexual orientation data for 9.5 percent of individuals who had died from COVID and 16 percent of people who tested positive, but for gender identity, the data were 99.5 percent.

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Equality Act, contorted as a danger by anti-LGBTQ forces, is all but dead

No political willpower to force vote or reach a compromise



Despite having President Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress, efforts to update federal civil rights laws to strengthen the prohibition on discrimination against LGBTQ people by passing the Equality Act are all but dead as opponents of the measure have contorted it beyond recognition.

Political willpower is lacking to find a compromise that would be acceptable to enough Republican senators to end a filibuster on the bill — a tall order in any event — nor is there the willpower to force a vote on the Equality Act as opponents stoke fears about transgender kids in sports and not even unanimity in the Democratic caucus in favor of the bill is present, stakeholders who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity said.

In fact, there are no imminent plans to hold a vote on the legislation even though Pride month is days away, which would be an opportune time for Congress to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBTQ community by holding a vote on the legislation.

If the Equality Act were to come up for a Senate vote in the next month, it would not have the support to pass. Continued assurances that bipartisan talks are continuing on the legislation have yielded no evidence of additional support, let alone the 10 Republicans needed to end a filibuster.

“I haven’t really heard an update either way, which is usually not good,” one Democratic insider said. “My understanding is that our side was entrenched in a no-compromise mindset and with [Sen. Joe] Manchin saying he didn’t like the bill, it doomed it this Congress. And the bullying of hundreds of trans athletes derailed our message and our arguments of why it was broadly needed.”

The only thing keeping the final nail from being hammered into the Equality Act’s coffin is the unwillingness of its supporters to admit defeat. Other stakeholders who spoke to the Blade continued to assert bipartisan talks are ongoing, strongly pushing back on any conclusion the legislation is dead.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the Equality Act is “alive and well,” citing widespread public support he said includes “the majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents and a growing number of communities across the country engaging and mobilizing every day in support of the legislation.”

“They understand the urgent need to pass this bill and stand up for LGBTQ people across our country,” David added. “As we engage with elected officials, we have confidence that Congress will listen to the voices of their constituents and continue fighting for the Equality Act through the lengthy legislative process.  We will also continue our unprecedented campaign to grow the already-high public support for a popular bill that will save lives and make our country fairer and more equal for all. We will not stop until the Equality Act is passed.”

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), chief sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, also signaled through a spokesperson work continues on the legislation, refusing to give up on expectations the legislation would soon become law.

“Sen. Merkley and his staff are in active discussions with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to get this done,” McLennan said. “We definitely see it as a key priority that we expect to become law.”

A spokesperson Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who had promised to force a vote on the Equality Act in the Senate on the day the U.S. House approved it earlier this year, pointed to a March 25 “Dear Colleague” letter in which he identified the Equality Act as one of several bills he’d bring up for a vote.

Despite any assurances, the hold up on the bill is apparent. Although the U.S. House approved the legislation earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee hasn’t even reported out the bill yet to the floor in the aftermath of the first-ever Senate hearing on the bill in March. A Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic aide, however, disputed that inaction as evidence the Equality Act is dead in its tracks: “Bipartisan efforts on a path forward are ongoing.”

Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for inaction on the Equality Act, but with Manchin withholding his support for the legislation they can’t even count on the entirety of their caucus to vote “yes” if it came to the floor. Progressives continue to advocate an end to the filibuster to advance legislation Biden has promised as part of his agenda, but even if they were to overcome headwinds and dismantle the institution needing 60 votes to advance legislation, the Equality Act would likely not have majority support to win approval in the Senate with a 50-50 party split.

The office of Manchin, who has previously said he couldn’t support the Equality Act over concerns about public schools having to implement the transgender protections applying to sports and bathrooms, hasn’t responded to multiple requests this year from the Blade on the legislation and didn’t respond to a request to comment for this article.

Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who declined to co-sponsor the Equality Act this year after having signed onto the legislation in the previous Congress, insisted through a spokesperson talks are still happening across the aisle despite the appearances the legislation is dead.

“There continues to be bipartisan support for passing a law that protects the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Annie Clark, a Collins spokesperson. “The Equality Act was a starting point for negotiations, and in its current form, it cannot pass. That’s why there are ongoing discussions among senators and stakeholders about a path forward.”

Let’s face it: Anti-LGBTQ forces have railroaded the debate by making the Equality Act about an end to women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes and danger to women in sex-segregated places like bathrooms and prisons. That doesn’t even get into resolving the issue on drawing the line between civil rights for LGBTQ people and religious freedom, which continues to be litigated in the courts as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected any day now to issue a ruling in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia to determine if foster care agencies can reject same-sex couples over religious objections.

For transgender Americans, who continue to report discrimination and violence at high rates, the absence of the Equality Act may be most keenly felt.

Mara Keisling, outgoing executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, disputed any notion the Equality Act is dead and insisted the legislation is “very much alive.”

“We remain optimistic despite misinformation from the opposition,” Keisling said. “NCTE and our movement partners are still working fruitfully on the Equality Act with senators. In fact, we are gaining momentum with all the field organizing we’re doing, like phone banking constituents to call their senators. Legislating takes time. Nothing ever gets through Congress quickly. We expect to see a vote during this Congress, and we are hopeful we can win.”

But one Democratic source said calls to members of Congress against the Equality Act, apparently coordinated by groups like the Heritage Foundation, have has outnumbered calls in favor of it by a substantial margin, with a particular emphasis on Manchin.

No stories are present in the media about same-sex couples being kicked out of a restaurant for holding hands or transgender people for using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, which would be perfectly legal in 25 states thanks to the patchwork of civil rights laws throughout the United States and inadequate protections under federal law.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the American Unity Fund, which has bolstered the Republican-led Fairness for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act, said he continues to believe the votes are present for a compromise form of the bill.

“I know for a fact there is a supermajority level of support in the Senate for a version of the Equality Act that is fully protective of both LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom,” Deaton said. “There is interest on both sides of the aisle in getting something done this Congress.”

Deaton, however, didn’t respond to a follow-up inquiry on what evidence exists of agreeing on this compromise.

Biden has already missed the goal he campaigned on in the 2020 election to sign the Equality Act into law within his first 100 days in office. Although Biden renewed his call to pass the legislation in his speech to Congress last month, as things stand now that appears to be a goal he won’t realize for the remainder of this Congress.

Nor has the Biden administration made the Equality Act an issue for top officials within the administration as it pushes for an infrastructure package as a top priority. One Democratic insider said Louisa Terrell, legislative affairs director for the White House, delegated work on the Equality Act to a deputy as opposed to handling it herself.

To be sure, Biden has demonstrated support for the LGBTQ community through executive action at an unprecedented rate, signing an executive order on day one ordering federal agencies to implement the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County to the fullest extent possible and dismantling former President Trump’s transgender military ban. Biden also made historic LGBTQ appointments with the confirmation of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rachel Levine as assistant secretary of health.

A White House spokesperson insisted Biden’s team across the board remains committed to the Equality Act, pointing to his remarks to Congress.

“President Biden has urged Congress to get the Equality Act to his desk so he can sign it into law and provide long overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans, and he remains committed to seeing this legislation passed as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said. “The White House and its entire legislative team remains in ongoing and close coordination with organizations, leaders, members of Congress, including the Equality Caucus, and staff to ensure we are working across the aisle to push the Equality Act forward.”

But at least in the near-term, that progress will fall short of fulfilling the promise of updating federal civil rights law with the Equality Act, which will mean LGBTQ people won’t be able to rely on those protections when faced with discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

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