Press Secretary Jen Psaki answers questions from members of the press Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chandler West)Photo: White House
Previewing the Biden administration’s weekend-long recognition of Pride, Press Secretary Jen Psaki took several questions regarding the President’s plan for advancing the rights of LGBTQ people.
“Happy Pride,” Psaki said to open the White House press briefing on Friday, June 25, noting that everyone is “celebrating here today” as later that day, Biden would sign historic legislation declaring Pulse, a former LGBTQ nightclub, as a national monument and issue an executive order furthering diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the federal government, specifically for LGBTQ employees.
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The Washington Blade asked Psaki at the briefing, “How do [the initiatives today] place in the President’s both domestic and foreign policy agenda? And don’t they fall short of the President signing the Equality Act into law?”
“I think that’s an important question,” Psaki responded, “because what we do here and the values that we advocate for in the United States do send an important message around the world, and sometimes we forget that.”
She then explained how President Biden’s remarks that would come later that day would signify that.
“The President will outline the historic steps… his administration has taken, but he will also renew his calls on the Senate to swiftly pass the Equality Act and provide overdue, explicit civil rights protections to LGBTQ people and families across the country,” she said, as Biden would indeed do at the signing of H.R. 49, which designated the Pulse nightclub as a national monument.
Psaki also pointed to his condemnation of the states that are passing anti-LGBTQ legislation, his appointment of Jessica Stern as the U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons, and Biden’s plan to “commend the community for their courage and bravery pushing progress forward” later that afternoon.
The Blade then asked Psaki if Biden will visit the new national monument at Pulse anytime soon. “Maybe,” she replied, noting “we don’t work too far ahead in planning around these parts.
“But certainly the fact that he’s signing this legislation today sends a clear message about his commitment to the LGBTQ+ community, and to commemorating what was a tragedy in our nation’s history.”
Biden proved Psaki correct that evening. While signing H.R. 49, which passed Congress unanimously, Biden said doing so would “enshrine in perpetuity… a monument to a loss that occurred there and absolute determination that we’re going to deal with this every single, solitary day,” he reminded everyone, “and make sure that we’re not in a position to see this happen again.”
Biden led a second event, commemorating Pride Month from the White House’s East Room, alongside the administration’s LGBTQ members, community leaders and advocates, and LGBTQ members of Congress and state legislatures around the country.
After, Biden denounced numerous anti-LGBTQ bills being introduced by Republicans in state legislatures. He called the bills some of the “ugliest most un-American laws” and “bullying disguised as legislation.”
President Biden also talked about his son Beau at both events, revealing that during his son Beau’s lifetime, the younger Biden wanted to create a foundation for LGBTQ youth primarily focusing on transgender youth.