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Emails reveal Clinton alerted to news on same-sex marriage

In 2012, she was solicited for help in passing Md. law

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Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade
Hillary Clinton, gay news, Washington Blade

Hillary Clinton was informed about developments in marriage at the State Department. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

At a time when Hillary Clinton had yet to support same-sex marriage publicly, her staff and supporters were alerting her to news developments on the issue — and in at least one instance sought her help to advance the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maryland.

The latest Clinton emails made public by the State Department on Friday — more than 7,000 messages largely sent or received in 2011 and 2012 — reveal the exchanges.

Perhaps the most striking email to Clinton on marriage was from Peter Edelman, a law professor at Georgetown University who sought the former secretary of state’s help in convincing former Maryland Assembly member Sam Arora to vote for same-sex marriage in Maryland.

In a Feb. 16, 2012 email, Edelman forwards to Clinton confidante Cheryl Mills a complaint that Arora seemed poised to renege on his campaign promise to support same-sex marriage in the state. Mills had sent the message to Clinton.

“This is a little off the wall, but I am told that Sam Arora worked for Hillary at some point,” Edelman writes. “I may be writing too late anyway — I’ve been in meetings all day — but the people who are working the gay marriage bill in the Maryland legislature think it would be helpful if someone could find an appropriate way to say to Mr. Arora on Hillary’s behalf that it would be great if he could vote for the bill. Thanks for whatever is possible. I realize it may be too much of a reach. All best.”

Arora, who has since resigned from the legislature, would end up voting against same-sex marriage in Maryland. It’s unknown whether Clinton made any contact with Arora on the issue. According to reporting at the time from the Huffington Post, former President Bill Clinton was among those who reached out to Arora.

Two other emails on marriage from Winnie Stachelberg, vice president of external affairs for the Center for American Progress, were forwarded to Clinton.

In one Dec. 19, 2011 email, Stachelberg sends an op-ed from Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) in which he announces his support for legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Stachelberg makes a reference to a comment from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who at the time said he supported marriage equality, but just in his home state of Iowa.

“I wanted you to see this,” Stachelberg writes. “And also Secty Vilsack gave a somewhat tortured answer re marriage and the Iowa law and repeal fight the other day. I will send you the link when I can find it.”

Less than a month later in a Jan. 4, 2012 email, Stachelberg forwards a notice from ThinkProgress’ Zack Ford that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had intended to celebrate marriage equality in New York in his State of the State address.

Marriage isn’t the only issue on which Stachelberg emailed the State Department. Following a speech by Clinton on her goal of an “AIDS-free generation,” Stachelberg writes in a Nov. 8, 2011 email, “That was amazing – huge speech and powerful energy for more progress on AIDS free generation. Thank you!!”

Articles in the New Yorker on President Obama’s evolution on same-sex marriage, written by Clinton supporter and New York-based gay advocate Richard Socarides, were forwarded to the secretary by her staff. One article was titled, “Obama, the Courts and Gay Marriage,” the other was titled, “Gay Marriage: Why Obama Couldn’t Wait.”

Also forwarded to Clinton was a Nov. 11, 2011, Associated Press news alert of Brazil granting permanent residency to a Spanish man as a result of his same-sex marriage to a Brazilian.

At no time in the latest email batch, nor in any of the earlier releases, does Clinton respond to these alerts on same-sex marriage or explicitly state her views, which may have happened offline.

Clinton didn’t come out publicly for same-sex marriage until 2013 when she made the announcement in a Human Rights Campaign video.

Neither Edelman nor Stachelberg immediately responded to the Washington Blade’s request for comment on why they were alerting the State Department to same-sex marriage news developments. Socarides also didn’t immediately respond to comment on why he thought his articles were forwarded to Clinton.

But Clinton does respond to other news developments on LGBT rights unrelated to marriage.

In a Dec. 30, 2011 email, Daniel Baer, then chief of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor, gives notice that Portia Simpson Miller won election as prime minister in Jamaica after pledging to repeal the country’s anti-sodomy law and committing to appoint a gay person to her Cabinet. Clinton replies, “Even more reason to help her.”

As an earlier email dump revealed, Clinton was planning to call Uganda President Yoweri Museveni about the potential passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Law in his country. Clinton on Jan. 27, 2011 seemed bewildered by a media report on the murder of a gay activist and her exchange with Museveni.

“I just heard on the radio about the killing of a gay activist in Uganda and that I had called Pres Museveni,” she writes. “Do you know about this?”

A significant portion of the latest email dump highlights the high-profile speech Clinton delivered in Geneva in 2011 on international LGBT rights when she proclaimed “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

Days before the speech on Dec. 3, 2011, Baer seeks to alert Clinton that a new draft of the remarks is forthcoming and to disregard the old one.

“If there’s a way to let her know that this new draft is coming (so that she doesn’t start to mark up the old one if she hasn’t already) that would be great,” Baer writes.

After the speech was delivered, numerous Clinton supporters sought to thank the secretary of state, writing the remarks affected them personally.

Socarides praised the speech in a Dec. 6, 2011, email forwarded to Clinton.

“An amazing, groundbreaking speech,” Socarides writes. “Breathtaking. Big hug to her, thanks to all.”

In two separate emails, Baer seeks to alert Clinton about the array of statements of support for the speech from LGBT activists around the globe. The Council for Global Equality rounded up statements from 13 LGBT organizations outside the United States in support of the speech.

Fred Hochberg, who’s gay and head of the Export-Import Bank, praised Clinton on the same day as the speech in an email with the subject line, “Congratulations and thank you to the Secretary for her great speech today in Geneva.”

Richard Seaton, who’s gay and a Realtor at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, sung Clinton’s praises on the day following the Geneva remarks.

“I could not but write to say how grateful I am to the Secretary and the administration for stepping out on the issue of social equity for gay people in Geneva yesterday,” Seaton writes. “At a personal level it means so very, very much. Reading about it the Times this morning put a smile on my face and a spring in my step — which I guess means that I’m lighter in the loafers than ever.”

Peter Christen, assistant vice chancellor for planning and organizational effectiveness at New York University Abu Dhabi, said in an email the day after the speech he knows as someone living overseas the importance of the remarks.

“It was with enormous pride in my country that I read about the Secretary’s address in Geneva regarding, the advocacy by the United States for the rights of gay and lesbian people throughout the world,” Christen writes. “Living abroad, I well understand the risks many face and know we cannot take for granted the hard-won progress we enjoy at home. Please pass my thanks to all of you in the administration, especially the Secretary, who made this historic policy announcement a reality.”

Jon Tollefson, a former Foreign Service officer who was president of Gays & Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, said the speech was “thrilling” to watch.

“I believe this will go down as one of the most important speeches ever delivered on global LGBT issues,” Tollefson writes. “The effect here at home has been extraordinary, as well. LGBT blogs are blowing up, and larger news sources covered this, along with the President’s memo, as rightly significant. I am so proud to work for this Secretary and this administration. Thank you for making yesterday happen and for driving LGBT issues throughout the State Department.”

A month later in a Jan. 12, 2012 email with the subject line, “Echoes from the Speech,” now U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Douglas Griffths names individuals positively impacted by the speech. The name of one person affected by the remarks is redacted by the State Department.

“[Redacted] gave me a big New Year’s kiss and he gushed thanking me for putting him up in the front row for the speech,” Griffths says. “Now he’s a moderate guy, but he really surprised me with his high praise for the speech. He underscored how important the issue is. Interestingly he really put [redacted] on the defensive, given how bad their record is. His defense was pretty pathetic, but I don’t think they will actively oppose anything that happens on the issue.”

Griffths writes the chancellor of Geneva also appreciated the remarks, saying as a result of the speech the official challenged a journalist “to do a report on how Geneva is living up to protecting LGBT rights.”

“One month out, it’s wonderful that it is still having an impact,” Griffths writes.

The Clinton campaign didn’t respond to a request to contribute to this article. The latest email batch is made public as Clinton is being criticized by some for recent comments that DOMA was a “defensive action” against worse anti-gay discrimination at the time in the form of a U.S. constitutional amendment. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and several gay activists have said that account amounts to historical revisionism, although others have said the account is truthful.

The State Department is making the emails public as a result of a court order following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by media organizations. The next batch of emails is set for distribution on Nov. 30.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Steve Karper

    October 31, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    arora didnt get re-eleected same with the two closet case ,members of the state legislature -emmet burns, Dyson, ansd the super homophob, don dwyer

    be a homophobe here in maryland at your own risk

  2. Harshan

    November 2, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    If someone who was benighted has seen the light and now supports my freedom, I don’t care about their past. Converts make the most enthusiastic supporters.

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Top 10 Blade news stories by web traffic

COVID breakthroughs, Equality Act, and anti-trans attacks

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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 “http://washingtonblade.com”washingtonblade.com 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

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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

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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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