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Federal agents target nonbinary Portland protester

Juniper Simonis denied medical attention after July 10 detention

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Juniper Simonis (Photo courtesy of Juniper Simonis)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Denied medical attention, misgendered, jumped and aggressively handcuffed. These are the abuses that Juniper Simonis, a genderqueer nonbinary pansexual person, suffered after federal authorities took them into custody last month during a protest in the city.

Simonis was drawing property lines with surveying chalk in front of the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in downtown Portland on July 10. Simonis three days earlier attended a vigil at the same location to honor Summer Taylor, a Seattle protester who was hit and killed by a car in early July.

Federal authorities violently disrupted the vigil.

In the days between the vigil and Simonis’ arrest, they traced the property lines of the federal building in chalk to help protestors avoid trespassing. Simonis also frequently shouted from a distance at agents, asking why the vigil had been disrupted.

Simonis, a 35-year-old quantitative ecologist, has been involved in the protests in Portland since they began in late May. Simonis has marched, provided medical attention and put out fires at the demonstrations — often helping to keep the peace.

“(We) are there to put our bodies, and our lives, and our money and energy towards protecting those who are standing up for their rights right now,” they said.

Simonis believes federal agents targeted them because of the information they have been collecting and sharing on social media. This information included the property lines of federal buildings, photos of agents with their badge numbers, and details about federal police funding.

Simonis also said they feel they were targeted because they are “visibly queer and trans,” and visibly disabled because of their use of a service dog.

“I am a marginalized sitting duck in some respects,” they said.

While Simonis said what happened to them was traumatizing, they do not want their experience to detract from the Black Lives Matter movement. Simonis also believes they survived their detention because they are white.

“We can’t have everybody focusing on the white people getting kidnapped when Black people are still getting killed day-to-day,” they said.

Flashbang grenade thrown at Simonis during previous protest

Federal agents during the July 7 vigil stormed the area. Simonis suspects federal officers were targeting a specific protestor in the crowd for arrest, but to their knowledge, no arrests were made. Simonis described the vigil as peaceful and said there was no provocation for the agents to disperse it.

Amid the disruption, while federal officers were moving back towards the building’s entrance, they threw a flashbang grenade at Simonis and their service dog, Wallace. The agents who conducted the raid were unknown to Simonis, and they couldn’t determine what organization or bureau they represented.

“I was super pissed,” said Simonis. “I spent the next 36 hours trying to figure out who these guys were.”

After fruitless calls to the Portland Police Bureau and the Multnomah County Police Department to help identify the federal agents, Simonis decided to take matters into their own hands.

Knowing the federal agents in question often stood outside the building watching protestors, Simonis decided to research where the property lines of the building are. They wanted the agents to explain why they had disrupted a peaceful vigil, without risking being arrested for trespassing. On July 8 and 9, Simonis marked the divide between federal and public property with chalk to ensure their safety.

“I wanted to stand on the sidewalk and fucking yell at these people, and I wanted to know where I was legally allowed to do that,” Simonis said.

For two days, Simonis documented agents moving in and out of the federal building and eventually identified the officers as members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service.

Simonis on July 9 said they saw multiple federal agents storm out of the building towards them when they were on the southeastern corner of it. 

Simonis, who was aware of the arrest of other protestors throughout Portland, said they expected to be “snatched.” But, the agents retreated back into the building.

Simonis at 8:30 p.m. on July 10 returned to the federal building to touch up the chalk line and continue protesting.

As they were fixing the lines near the front entrance, Federal Protective Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents surrounded Simonis, threw them to the ground and handcuffed them.

“They do not say anything. They don’t say, ‘stop.’ They don’t say, ‘what are you doing?’ They don’t say ‘get off our property’ … they don’t say anything. They just streamed out of the front of this building and snatched me,” Simonis said.

Simonis provided the Washington Blade with a video of their arrest.

Simonis said officers used mace and separated them from their service dog.

“As someone who already has PTSD, who already has almost been killed multiple times, including by someone grabbing me from behind, what I instantly get shunted into is a fight or flight response,” they said.

Simonis was detained in handcuffs in the building foyer for an hour before being taken down to the basement. There, agents told them they were under arrest for spray painting federal property.

“Even though everything I had in my hands was chalk — it was clearly chalk — they just assumed I was doing something illegal, even though I knew I wasn’t, and I had all of the documentation to show them that I wasn’t,” Simonis said.  

When Simonis was taken into the federal building foyer, an officer offered medical attention, but Simonis requested a trained medical professional flush their eyes and tend to their open wounds.

Two Portland Fire and Rescue members arrived an hour later, but Simonis said they only made matters worse.

According to Simonis, the medical team did not properly flush their eyes, mouth and nose with pressure. Rather they splashed saline solution from an IV bag into the affected areas. Simonis also said the medical team did not remove their contact lenses, even though they repeatedly asked them to do so.

During the hour before Simonis said federal officers insisted they lay on their side during the hour before they received medical treatment. They said this caused the mace to pool in their nasal passages, rather than drain away. The medical team also held Simonis on their side as they began treatment, which caused their nose to become full of water, which exacerbated their breathing issues caused by the mace and subsequent panic attacks.

“It was basically like my head was being shoved under a pool for a minute,” Simonis said. They described the act as “being water-boarded.”

Simonis asked repeatedly for additional medical attention, including treatment for open cuts on their body. They were denied additional help.

“It’s really sad — as the daughter, granddaughter and niece of firefighters — to be saying this, but I am horribly disappointed and appalled at the actions of Portland Fire and Rescue,” Simonis said.

Throughout the time Simonis was in federal custody, they said they were repeatedly misgendered. The agents exclusively referred to Simonis, who identifies as nonbinary and has two forms of identification legally identifying them as a woman, as “sir.” Simonis said they also repeatedly corrected the officers, who did not respect their gender identity.

Despite the fact Simonis’ driver’s license and passport both identify them as a woman, the medical services receipt also listed their gender as male. Simonis also believes their identification had been reviewed, as the contents of their bag had been shifted when their possessions were returned to them.

Simonis was then taken to the adjacent Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse after two hours in the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, and was held in a cell without access to a lawyer, phone call, sanitizer or water.

Prior to being placed in the cell, a male U.S. Marshal patted them down. Simonis requested a female agent for the procedure, but was told by an agent, “they don’t do that here.”

Simonis was still separated from their service dog when they were at the courthouse, and did not have access to their medication. Simonis said agents threatened to take their dog to a shelter, telling them their dog “would not be there when you get out.”

Juniper Simonis and Wallace, their service dog (Photo courtesy of Juniper Simonis)

Simonis was released on petty charges roughly six hours later. They are still awaiting a court date for failure to comply with a lawful order and assaulting, resisting or impeding officers.

Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Protective Service and Department of Homeland Security did not respond to the Blade’s requests for a comment. Portland Fire Rescue and the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse have also not returned requests for comment.

Simonis has not proceeded formally with charges but plans to in the near future. They are planning to pursue a variety of legal actions, including individual and class action lawsuits.

“I have been getting all of my legal ducks in a row … while also trying to heal and support the movement,” they said. 

Simonis said they are also experiencing a variety of physical and emotional injuries from the event, including nerve damage in both hands after being handcuffed for two hours in metal cuffs latched too tightly.

“I told them repeatedly that my hands were going numb, and they repeatedly ignored me,” they said.

After they were released from federal custody, Simonis was diagnosed with neuropathy in both hands. Simonis said they still have not regained full mobility or feeling in their hands and the injuries have made it difficult to complete day-to-day activities, including walking their dog and typing on their computer.

Simonis is also experiencing heightened PTSD symptoms. They also said they are currently dealing with insomnia, dissociation of different parts of the body, manic episodes, a lack of appetite and suicidal thoughts.

Simonis said they are also dealing with hyper-vigilance. Simonis said they are often afraid passing cars are unmarked and being used by federal officers.  

“I am literally evaluating every car that drives by me. Hypervigilance is an understatement,” they said.

While they took a week off from participating in the protests, Simonis has been dropping off chalk in Portland for passersby to write messages on the sidewalk, because “that’s what I was arrested for doing.”

“I thought the best way to respond to the absurdity of being arrested for chalking on a city sidewalk by federal agents was to provide chalk for the rest of my community members to use, in a federally kidnappable way on our city sidewalk,” they said.

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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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