Biden seeks to protect LGBTQ rights as GOP states push ‘hateful’ new laws

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President Joe Biden marked Pride Month on Wednesday by issuing a string of executive orders to bolster LGBTQ rights and push back against a tide of “hateful” laws enacted by Republican-run states.

Celebrating the monthlong festival of tolerance, Biden enacted orders to discourage so-called “conversion therapy” while promoting gender-affirming surgery and expanding protections for gay and transgender parents and children.

“President Biden always stands up to bullies, and that’s what these extreme MAGA laws and policies do,” said a senior administration official, previewing the event. “Hateful, discriminatory laws that target children are out of line with where the American people are.”

“Biden is going to use his executive authority to protect kids and families,” the official added.

The White House says the actions, which will use money already allocated to federal agencies, will counter hundreds of anti-LGBTQ laws in GOP states like Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” law that aims to stifle discussion of gender and sexual identity in schools.

They protect transgender kids who are facing a string of new laws barring them from some sports and from undergoing medical care to help them transition to their chosen gender identity.

The actions will also beef up programs that help combat suicide among LGBTQ children and teens.

The president, first lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended a crowded reception in the White House’s East Room, where the adjacent hallway was decorated in rainbow colors. Attending were LGBTQ activists, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress, and top administration officials, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has adopted twins with his husband, Chasten.

LGBTQ rights advocates quickly cheered Biden’s moves as much-needed protection for a community under attack.

“We are grateful to the president ... for embracing LGBTQI+ people and our families,” said Imani Rupert-Gordon, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“Despite recent and relentless political attacks, we are hopeful that this will move us forward toward a day where all LGBTQ young people can be themselves without fear of discrimination or violence,” said Amit Paley of The Trevor Project, which offers mental health support to LGBTQ youth.

Doctors say conversation therapy, the discredited practice that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, is not based on science and harms mental health. Yet some GOP states promote it.

In states that have banned gender-affirming care, the Biden administration has invited people who say they are adversely affected to file complaints with federal civil rights authorities.

Biden also renewed his calls for Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would amend existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics. The measure has been stalled on Capitol Hill, but the president said it’s necessary to “enshrine the long overdue civil rights protections of all Americans, every American.”

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