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

Messages suggest group know about solicitation as early as August

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The Lincoln Project’s leaders, amid the unfolding scandal of co-founder John Weaver soliciting sexual favors from young men, have asserted they were unaware of his indiscretions until last month, but electronic communications obtained by the Washington Blade call that claim into question and suggest some Lincoln Project executives knew about the texts as early as last summer, but took no substantive action in response.

The communications with Lincoln Project officials undermine the assertion that “there was no awareness or insinuations of any type of inappropriate behavior when we became aware of the chatter at the time,” as co-founder Steve Schmidt told The New York Times last month. These electronic messages, which date back to August 2020 and include Lincoln Project co-founder Mike Madrid, showed that leadership was made aware of allegations about Weaver from reporters who were investigating it, and had begun discussions of how to respond to any fallout.

The initial alerts came to the attention of the Lincoln Project in early August in the form of inquiries about Weaver from the New York Post. The inquiries, three sources familiar with the New York Post story say, were part of an investigation into Weaver’s inappropriate messages to male youths, and brought to the attention of Madrid.

On Aug. 6, the Lincoln Project announced Weaver would go on medical leave after a cardiac emergency, but no further action was announced.

“So instead of looking into the allegations, they swept it under the rug,” one source familiar with the situation told the Blade.

One source close to the Weaver family and not affiliated with the Lincoln Project said the announcement of medical leave wasn’t a ruse and Weaver had, in fact, suffered a heart attack at the time word of the planned story spread to the anti-Trump group. Weaver has a history of health issues and had missed appearances at Lincoln Project events due to stent procedures before COVID prevented further gatherings. The New York Post never published its article.

Weeks later in August, another reporter made inquiries regarding Weaver, which Madrid discussed in internal communications. Keith Edwards, who was working at the time with the Lincoln Project as communications director, was named in the discussion as playing a role in the strategy for the response to the potential story.

No further action was taken, one source familiar with the internal communications said. It’s not clear what the exact nature of the story was other than Weaver in the aftermath of him taking medical leave.

The Blade is not publishing the messages in order to protect the confidentiality of sources. The electronic messages the Blade reviewed were between Madrid and one of the young men Weaver was texting. That source said the exchanges with Weaver were consensual. The Blade has not seen any evidence that Madrid alerted any other Lincoln Project leaders other than then-communications director Edwards to media inquiries into Weaver.

Madrid didn’t respond to a request for comment for this article submitted to his associate at Grassroots Labs LLC, the public relations firm where Madrid works. He also did not respond to a question about whether he signed an NDA with the Lincoln Project.

Edwards, who has since departed the Lincoln Project to become senior digital adviser for Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), declined to comment on the internal correspondence.

“I cannot comment on an email you refuse to show me about a story that was not written by the New York Post,” Edwards said. “Period.”

In December, Ron Steslow a co-founder of the Lincoln Project, left the organization and launched the “Politicology” podcast. Steslow didn’t respond to the Blade’s request for comment for this article and whether he signed an NDA barring him from talking about the Lincoln Project’s internal matters.

The New York Post, which endorsed Trump for re-election in 2020, does not have a reputation for supporting the LGBTQ community.

Recent op-eds in the New York Post warn about President Biden’s commitment to transgender rights and transgender kids playing in school sports.

Nonetheless, the existence of those earlier alerts, regardless of the source, were about sexually aggressive messaging in which gay men were survivors and contradict the Lincoln Project’s assertion that its leaders were only made aware of Weaver’s indiscretions in the last month as the story gained traction. Other than Weaver taking medical leave as a result of a cardiac emergency as word of the New York Post article reached the Lincoln Project, no action was announced against him in the middle of a campaign season.

The New York Post didn’t respond Tuesday morning to the Blade’s request for comment on why it didn’t run its article on Weaver.

Meanwhile, the Lincoln Project, as part of its campaign against Trump, ran in July an ad highlighting his ties to alleged child trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell. Condemning Trump for saying in a White House briefing, “I just wish her well, frankly. I’ve met her numerous times over the years,” the ad shows images of Trump with Maxwell, highlighting their friendship.

“Had enough?” the ad concludes. “On November 3, it’s time to restore honor and dignity to the White House.”

Denunciation of Weaver would have to wait until last week in the form of a Lincoln Project statement calling him “a predator, a liar and an abuser” upon publication of a New York Times article citing 21 men who accused Weaver of sexual predation online. None of the men have accused Weaver of criminal conduct.

Steve Schmidt, in a phone interview last week with the Blade, denied the Lincoln Project had “any knowledge of any misconduct by John Weaver” until January.

Schmidt also said no media outlet had submitted to the Lincoln Project a formal request for an on-the-record comment on the Weaver texts.

“This story never published,” Schmidt said, referring to the New York Post article. “And there was never an interrogatory put on the record, to my knowledge, to the organization by the New York Post.”

Schmidt downplayed Madrid’s role in the organization, saying he was “not part of the map” with Lincoln Project, even though Madrid identifies as a co-founder.

“Mike isn’t the spokesperson,” Schmidt said. “Mike isn’t the communications person, Mike isn’t the leader. Mike’s not making decisions.”

Asked about the electronic communications related to media inquiries about Weaver that included Madrid, Schmidt said Madrid never ran anything “up the chain of command.”

If Madrid wasn’t considered a leader at the Lincoln Project, he certainly was paid like he was. According to Federal Election Commission reports, Madrid made at least $1.5 million from the Lincoln Project in the form of payments to Grassroots Labs LLC.

The New York Times reported last month 21 men are accusing Weaver of sexual harassment in private messages to them. In the article, Lincoln Project leaders are quoted as saying they were only made aware of Weaver’s sexual solicitations in January as a result of news articles, which appeared in The American Conservative and Forensic News.

Republican insiders who spoke to the Blade bolstered the Times reporting with stories about Weaver’s reputation for inappropriate messages, and indicated Weaver’s behavior was well known in recent years. One Republican insider not affiliated with the Lincoln Project said he received a text in 2016 warning Weaver had a history of sending “creepy” texts to younger gay men.

One strategist who said he received sexual solicitations from Weaver said he knew him at first in a professional capacity. At that time, the strategist said Weaver did nothing to suggest he had an interest in men, let alone an interest in the strategist in particular. But several years after they met, the strategist said he received Twitter messages from Weaver and he made comments that were “unwanted, but strange.”

“He never offered me like a quid pro quo, or a job,” the strategist said. “That was never even part of a conversation. It was just very weird.”

The insider said the DMs consisted of messages similar to others that have been reported, including calling the strategist “my boy.”

“I know a lot of people have said [that] was demeaning,” the strategist said. “I felt it was more sort of fatherly like. I mean, there’s more than 25 years apart. But that’s also because I knew him, but I could understand how that would be very disconcerting.”

Asked if anything sexually explicit came up, the strategist said Weaver “had a lot of questions about my sex life.” The strategist said he “danced around the conversation, of course, because, well, for professional purposes.”

The story is consistent with The New York Times report on interviews with 21 young men accusing Weaver of impropriety over the last five years, characterizing Weaver’s behavior in many cases as aggressive and unwanted.

One individual who went on the record with The New York Times, Cole Trickle Miele, said he was 14 when Weaver first sent him a message. At the time, he is quoted as saying he didn’t think anything was amiss, but that changed when he turned 18. Weaver reportedly wrote to him, “I want to come to Vegas and take you to dinner and drinks and spoil you!!,” and in a follow-up message wrote: “Hey my boy! resend me your stats! or I can guess! if that is easier or more fun!”

The New York Times quoted Kyle Allen, age 23, as saying Weaver asked about his height, weight, what he was wearing and whether he was circumcised. Weaver also reportedly pushed to come to University of Ottawa, where Allen was studying, using sexually explicit language. In at least two other cases, Weaver reportedly offered young men work with the Lincoln Project while sending suggestive messages.

Schmidt, speaking with the Blade, said the Lincoln Project uncovered chatter over the summer in pro-Trump 4chan and 8chan message boards suggesting that Weaver is gay, despite having a wife and two children, although nothing suggested he was sending inappropriate texts. Schmidt said he had a phone call with Weaver in July to ask him about it.

“What I said specifically to him is there anything you need to tell us, right?” Schmidt recalled. “He said, ‘Absolutely not. It’s all bullshit. Full stop on that. Period.”

Schmidt said “there has always been a ‘Weaver is gay’ rumor,” fueled by a rumored feud between him and GOP strategist Karl Rove, but ultimately he didn’t think it was worth investigating.

“Is there any public information that’s out there that’s evidence-based that there’s an allegation that Weaver engaged in any predatory conduct, any misconduct? There is not,” Schmidt said. “Do I have some duty to inform if John Weaver had said to us in our conversation: “I’m a closeted gay man”? He’s 62, years old, right? Do I have any duty to inform anybody? And the answer to that question is emphatically I do not.”

Last week, the Lincoln Project took a different tone, repudiating Weaver for sexual harassment of younger males and accusing him of having “led a secret life that was built on a foundation of deception at every level.”

“He is a predator, a liar, and an abuser,” the Lincoln Project statement says. “We extend our deepest sympathies to those who were targeted by his deplorable and predatory behavior. We are disgusted and outraged that someone in a position of power and trust would use it for these means.”

(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Daily Caller as an outlet investigating the Weaver story. The Blade regrets the error.)

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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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