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Biden Invites LGBTQ+ Individuals to WH 06/08 06:08

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden has invited thousands of LGBTQ+ 
individuals to celebrate Pride Month in a high-profile show of support at a 
time when the community feels under attack like never before and the White 
House has little recourse to beat back a flood of state-level legislation 
against them.

   Biden was announcing new initiatives to protect LGBTQ+ communities from 
attacks, help youth with mental health resources and homelessness and counter 
book bans, White House officials said.

   The White House was closely monitoring air quality due to hazardous smoke 
from Canadian wildfires to determine whether to proceed with plans for a 
Thursday night picnic featuring food, games, face painting and photos. Queen HD 
the DJ was handling the music; singer Betty Who was on tap to perform.

   Karine Jean-Pierre, the first openly gay White House press secretary, said 
Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their spouses are strong supporters of 
the LGBTQ+ community and think that having a celebration is an important way to 
"lift up" their accomplishments and contributions.

   She said LGBTQ+ people need to know that Biden "has their back" and "will 
continue to fight for them. And that's the message that we want to make sure 
that gets out there."

   The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest advocacy organization for 
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer individuals, earlier this week 
declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States and 
released a guidebook outlining laws it deems discriminatory in each state.

   Just a few days into June's Pride Month, the campaign said it acted in 
response to an "unprecedented and dangerous" spike in discriminatory laws 
sweeping statehouses this year, with more than 525 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced 
and more than 70 signed into law so far -- more than double last year's number.

   Kelley Robinson, the campaign's president, called for a "swift and powerful" 
response by people in power, including in government, business and education.

   "This is a full-out crisis for our communities that demands a concerted 
response," she said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think this is 
kind of a national call to action and a call to arms to stand up and fight 
back."

   Biden was announcing that the Department of Homeland Security, working with 
the Justice and Health and Human Services departments, will partner with LGBTQ+ 
community organizations to provide safety resources and training to help thwart 
violent attacks.

   Separately, HHS and the Department of Housing and Urban Development will 
provide resources to help LGBTQ+ young people with mental health needs, support 
in foster care and homelessness.

   To confront a spike in book bans, Biden was announcing that the Department 
of Education's civil rights office will appoint a new coordinator to work with 
schools to address that threat. The White House said banning books erodes 
democracy, deprives students of material needed for learning and can contribute 
to the stigma and isolation that LGBTQ+ youth feel because books about them are 
often the ones that are prohibited.

   Hundreds of bills have been proposed restricting the rights of transgender 
people, including limiting their access to certain forms of health care, and 
LGBTQ+ advocates say they've seen a record number of such measures in 
statehouses.

   The White House points out that Biden has a record of supporting lesbian, 
gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals, including appointing them to 
prominent positions in the federal government, such as Jean-Pierre.

   After the Supreme Court last year overturned a woman's constitutional right 
to an abortion, Biden signed legislation to protect marriage equality. He 
continues to urge Congress to send him the Equality Act, which would add civil 
rights protections for LGBTQ+ individuals to federal law.

   Polls show that public support for the rights of people who are gay and 
lesbian has expanded dramatically over the last two decades, with about 7 in 10 
U.S. adults in polling by Gallup saying that marriages between same-sex adults 
should be legally valid and that gay and lesbian relationships are morally 
acceptable.

   But attitudes toward transgender people are complex: In polls conducted in 
2022 by KFF and the Washington Post and by the Pew Research Center, majorities 
said they support laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender people in 
areas such as housing, jobs and schools.

   At the same time, both polls found that a majority of Americans think that 
whether someone is a man or a woman is determined by sex assigned at birth, and 
many also support restrictive policies aimed at people who are transgender, for 
example preventing transgender women and girls from participating in sports 
teams matching their gender identity, along with restrictions on access to 
medical treatment like puberty blockers and hormone treatment for transgender 
teens and children.

   The Log Cabin Republicans, which represents LGBTQ+ conservatives, criticized 
the Human Rights Campaign's declaration of a "state of emergency" as a "PR 
stunt so ignorantly detached" from the community's progress over the past 
decade.

   Charles Moran, the group's president, noted the gay marriage legislation 
Biden signed, increased public support for equal rights for LGBTQ+ Americans 
and their higher visibility across society and accused the campaign of 
"destructively redefining" support for these individuals around trans surgeries 
for minors, biological men competing in women's sports, and sex and gender 
identity lessons in kindergarten.

   "While these issues can be emotional and complex, they in no way pose an 
unprecedented 'state of emergency' to the LGBT community, which has persevered 
through far worse," Moran said.

 
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