The list of Donald Trump’s affronts is long. The unlikely evangelical darling operated casinos, paid off porn stars, bragged of grabbing women by the “pussy,” mocked a disabled reporter, praised white supremacists, insulted a Gold Star family, attacked a revered POW, flirted with his own daughter, tweeted support for a murderer, and bullied foreign leaders into helping him steal the election.
And those are just some of the most infamous of Trump’s transgressions.
There’s no reason for any informed American voter to grant Trump another four years. There’s even less reason for LGBTQ voters to support him, no matter what the hypocrites at Log Cabin tell you.
His botched COVID response has needlessly cost tens of thousands of lives. Rather than model commonsense mask use, Trump mocked those like Joe Biden for wearing them. Rather than level with the American people back in February and March about the severity of what was coming our way, he downplayed coronavirus, called it a “hoax” and ridiculously said it would “go away like a miracle.” Even as we watched heartbreaking and frightening YouTube clips of Italians suffering in quarantine as bodies piled up in morgues, Trump held firm that it was not a threat to us. He was dead wrong. When we sought answers and comfort from leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci — well known to the gay community from his days fighting AIDS in the 1980s — Trump turned on him too, unleashing opposition research to undermine his credibility.
The resulting chaos has left nearly 200,000 Americans dead and the economy in shambles. When everyday Americans and small business owners needed another relief package, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House responded swiftly with a bill and passed it, while Senate Majority Leader and Trump loyalist Mitch McConnell let his colleagues go home for an August vacation. I don’t know any small business owners who took a vacation this summer; we are all struggling to stay afloat without any communication or direction from the federal government.
This sad performance alone on coronavirus should be enough reason to vote Trump out in November, but, of course, there is more.
The parallel crisis of police brutality against Black Americans has reminded us yet again of the stubborn entrenchment of systemic racism. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Jacob Blake joined the unending list of Black victims of police abuse. As protests flared around the country, Trump gassed peaceful demonstrators at the White House so he could stage a clumsy photo op with an upside-down Bible, a book he has never read and cares nothing about. When 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, armed with an AR-15, shot and killed two protesters in Kenosha, Wis., Trump defended him. Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway later admitted what the rest of us already knew: that Trump believes violence in American cities benefits his campaign. He’s encouraging his armed supporters to show up at Black Lives Matter protests to intimidate and taunt peaceful demonstrators. It’s unconscionable and people are dead as a result. More blood on Trump’s hands and his Republican enablers in Congress, on state propaganda Fox News, and online invoke inane conspiracy theories to justify his reckless assault on our democracy.
Make no mistake that this election will determine whether the great American experiment continues or it unravels. Trump’s admiration for dictators like the murderers Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un; his attacks on our allies like Germany, France, and the Kurds; and his backing out of the Paris climate accord and rolling back myriad environmental protections in deference to his corporate golfing buddies further illustrate just how unfit Trump is for office. Make no mistake that all of this chaos is by design — the plan all along was to gut and cripple the federal government. We’ve seen it agency by agency, from the Education Department’s efforts to promote the privatization of public schools through vouchers, to the Interior Department being coopted to host Trump campaign events on federal lands, to even the Postal Service being undermined to thwart mail-in voting, no agency has been unaffected. Let’s not forget Trump was impeached for his efforts to undermine our democracy and he presided over the longest U.S. government shutdown in our history.
What about Trump’s record on LGBTQ issues? It’s the disaster many of us predicted it would be. In a 2016 endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president, I wrote: “the Republicans have turned their party over to a racist, sexist bully with zero experience in elected office. … The LGBT community cannot risk a Trump presidency.” I was right. From Trump’s very first day in office, when LGBTQ issues were deleted from the White House website, right up to today, when his State Department is denying citizenship to children of same-sex couples born via surrogacy overseas, the attacks have been constant and sometimes cruel.
Trump’s tweet banning transgender patriots from serving their country in the military “in any capacity” is perhaps the most egregious and blatant of those attacks, but there are countless others. The blame for a nationwide dramatic rise in hate crimes, which disproportionately impact the LGBTQ community, lies at Trump’s feet. Previously, Americans who held bigoted views felt at least some pressure to keep those opinions to themselves. But under Trump, those views are validated and encouraged, motivating scores of “deplorables” to come out and express their hatred openly, as we saw in Charlottesville, and sometimes violently as seen in the FBI’s report noting that attacks motivated by bias or prejudice reached a 16-year high in 2018. The Trump administration has allowed discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom” across the board, from adoption agencies to faith-based schools. This administration has worked overtime to render us invisible, removing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” from the list of categories the Education Department tracks in compiling data on bullying and canceling plans to include us in the Census. The administration has filed a long series of court briefs attacking LGBTQ rights, from seeking to block workplace protections for trans workers to allowing discrimination against same-sex couples seeking to foster children.
Attacks on the trans community are particularly acute and nasty, including allowing homeless shelters to discriminate against transgender people and rescinding Obama-era guidance that allowed trans students to use facilities that correspond to their gender identity.
He opposes the Equality Act, despite originally supporting it. He named notorious homophobe Mike Pence as his vice president, who famously signed a bill as Indiana governor allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers. He has named scores of judges hostile to LGBTQ equality to the federal bench, jeopardizing our community’s gains for years to come. He surrounds himself with bigots and homophobes, like Tony Perkins, Gini Thomas, Brent Bozell, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr.
I could go on for pages, but you get the point. The Blade’s archives over the last four years are filled with reasons for queer voters to reject Trump.
So, why vote for Joe Biden and not just against Trump? Again, the list is long.
Biden has vowed to make the Equality Act his top legislative priority in his first 100 days. This is an important step, as the historic Bostock ruling can be undermined by other lawsuits seeking “religious freedom” carveouts to legalize discrimination and by interpreting the ruling narrowly to allow discrimination in other areas outside of the workplace.
Back in March, Biden unveiled a comprehensive plan to advance LGBTQ rights. In addition to the Equality Act, he pledges to support international LGBTQ human rights and to ban harmful, discredited conversion therapy nationwide. He vows to reappoint a special envoy to advance international LGBTQ rights, form a coalition of countries to advance international LGBTQ rights and guide the GLOBE Act into passage, as the Blade reported. Further, Biden will work to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2025 and expand PEPFAR.
“As president, Biden will stand with the LGBTQ+ community to ensure America finally lives up to the promise on which it was founded: equality for all,” the plan says. “He will provide the moral leadership to champion equal rights for all LGBTQ+ people, fight to ensure our laws and institutions protect and enforce their rights, and advance LGBTQ+ equality globally.”
The 17-page plan is detailed and thoughtful and offers a clear vision of how he will work for LGBTQ equality.
Biden praised the historic June Supreme Court ruling in Bostock that the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes LGBT people in its prohibition on employment discrimination based on gender or sex.
“Today, by affirming that sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination are prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Supreme Court has confirmed the simple but profoundly American idea that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity.” Biden said. “That everyone should be able to live openly, proudly, as their true selves without fear.”
In other words, Biden will use the bully pulpit for good and to inspire others, rather than to foment division and hurl juvenile insults.
Biden endorsed marriage equality in 2012, beating his boss President Obama to the punch. Make no mistake that the bully pulpit is powerful; when the president of the United States speaks, the world listens. When Biden and days later Obama endorsed marriage equality, the floodgates were opened and a slew of celebrities, politicians, and everyday Americans followed, eventually aiding the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling. Imagine a president using that awesome power again for good rather than for exacting petty revenge on real and imagined enemies.
Trump and his toadies like Ric Grenell — who likes to boast of being the first gay Cabinet member, even though he was not Senate confirmed and lacked qualifications for the job — have foolishly tried to paint Biden as anti-gay, citing 1970s era comments about gay federal workers. If Trump wants to talk about the 70s, let’s do that. At that time, Trump’s mentor was Roy Cohn, the notorious closet case who died alone of AIDS after devoting his career to ridding the federal government of gay employees in the Lavender Scare era. Also in the 1970s, Trump was investigated for discriminating against Black renters seeking to live in his apartment buildings. The Justice Department filed a civil rights case against the Trump firm, accusing the company of violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The case was eventually settled after a protracted court battle. Trump should be careful about re-litigating the 1970s with Biden.
And if you needed more reason to vote for Biden, think of the Supreme Court. Trump has already had two conservative picks, but in a second term he could get at least two more. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is 87 years old with recent health scares, and Justice Stephen Breyer is 82. That’s two of the court’s remaining four liberal justices in their 80s. A second Trump term could mean a solid 7-2 conservative majority for years to come. In that case, Roe v. Wade, Obergefell and Bostock would all be in jeopardy. That’s not hyperbole. Challenges to those rulings continue and will only intensify under a second Trump term. Last year, nine states passed bills restricting abortion rights. Undermining and overturning Roe remains the #1 goal of the right, and marriage equality is next on their target list.
Whatever you think of Biden’s policies, there’s no disputing he is a decent man, an honorable father and husband who has dedicated his life to public service. His first big decision as the presumptive nominee was to pick Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, a historic and stellar choice. The California senator is a longtime LGBTQ ally who will work with Biden to reverse Trump’s attacks on our community and to advance an equality agenda.
Joe Biden will work to advance LGBTQ equality. He will restore America’s reputation around the world as an ally in the struggle to protect and expand human rights. His administration will look like America and we could finally see an openly LGBTQ Cabinet member and a roster of senior government officials that showcases our great diversity. Once again, it will take a Democratic president and Congress to fix the economic mess created by the outgoing Republican administration. Biden will ensure that science wins the day and procure and distribute a coronavirus vaccine that is proven safe and effective. He will embrace an overdue dialogue on race and enact new policies to address systemic racism. He will stand up to our enemies like Putin and aid our allies. And he will use the bully pulpit to inspire all Americans to achieve their full potential.
There is only one rational choice for president this year. Joe Biden has the experience, the wisdom, and the compassion to restore sanity to government and stability to the world.
Kevin Naff is editor of the Washington Blade. Reach him at [email protected].
Top 10 Blade news stories by web traffic
COVID breakthroughs, Equality Act, and anti-trans attacks
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.
CDC still falling short on LGBTQ data collection for COVID patients: expert
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.
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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