After four years of relentless attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic actions to accelerate the march toward full LGBTQ+ equality. From protecting the civil rights of every LGBTQ+ American, enabling all qualified Americans – including transgender Americans – to serve their country in uniform, ensuring that LGBTQ+ Americans are leaders at every level of the federal government, to protecting and defending the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons around the world, the Biden-Harris Administration is a consistent and reliable partner in the fight for equality at home and abroad.
Too many LGBTQ+ Americans across our nation continue facing discrimination and hate, especially LGBTQ+ people of color and transgender Americans, and some states are attempting to roll back the clock on equality with discriminatory bills that target LGBTQ+ people and families. The Biden-Harris Administration reaffirms that no one should face discrimination or harassment because of who they are or whom they love. As President Biden said during his first joint address to Congress, the President has the back of LGBTQ+ people across the country and will continue fighting for full equality for every American – including through continuing to urge the U.S. Senate to pass the Equality Act and provide overdue civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ people and families across the country.
This Pride Month, the Biden-Harris Administration celebrates the historic progress made towards LGBTQ+ equality since President Biden took office, including:
Signing One of the Most Comprehensive Executive Orders in History on LGBTQ+ Rights on His First Day in Office. Within hours of taking the oath of office, President Biden signed an Executive Order Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. The Executive Order established that it is the official policy of the Biden-Harris Administration to prevent and combat discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals, and to fully enforce civil rights laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The President directed all federal agencies to implement fully all federal laws that prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This Executive Order is one of the most consequential policies for LGBTQ+ Americans ever signed by a U.S. President. As a result of that Order, agencies have already taken key steps to advance LGBTQ+ equality.
- The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will interpret and enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and Title IX to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- To address the pervasive discrimination LGBTQ+ families continue to face in housing, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it will interpret the Fair Housing Act to prevent discrimination in housing and rental assistance against LGBTQ+ people. HUD will require state and local jurisdictions who receive funding through its Fair Housing Assistance Program to apply the same protections.
- In response to the continuing discrimination many LGBTQ+ individuals face in credit and lending services, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that it will enforce against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in credit and lending services.
- The Department of Justice issued new guidance to agencies clarifying that Title IX sex discrimination protection includes protection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
- To ensure that LGBTQ+ Veterans are treated with dignity and respect, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has undertaken an agency-wide review of its policies and practices to remove barriers that transgender veterans and their families face.
- To advance protections for incarcerated individuals who are transgender, the Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in litigation clarifying that it is DOJ’s position that transgender prisoners should be assigned to housing that aligns with their gender identity, and that transgender prisoners should receive medically-necessary gender affirming care.
Launching a Whole-Of-Government Initiative to Advance Equity and Justice for Underserved Communities, Including LGBTQ+ Communities. On his first day in office, President Biden signed a historic Executive Order establishing a cross-government initiative to advance equity and justice for communities who have been left behind, underserved, or discriminated against by federal policies, laws, and programs, including LGBTQ+ communities. The President directed all agencies to take steps to advance equity by taking comprehensive action to root out bias from federal programs and policies, engage with underserved communities, and ensure that federal resources equitably reach all Americans, including LGBTQ+ Americans.
Enabling All Qualified Americans to Serve Their Country in Uniform. In his first week in office, President Biden signed an Executive Order reversing the ban on openly transgender servicemembers serving in the Armed Forces, enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform. President Biden believes that gender identity should not be a bar to military service, America’s strength is found in its diversity, and an inclusive military strengthens our national security As a result of his Executive Order, the Department of Defense issued new policies which prohibit discrimination against transgender servicemembers, provide a path for transgender servicemembers to access gender-affirming medical care, and require that all transgender servicemembers are treated with dignity and respect. Patriotic transgender servicemembers are once again able to openly and proudly serve our Nation in uniform.
Advancing an Equitable Recovery from COVID-19 for LGBTQ+ Americans across the Country. President Biden knows that LGBTQ+ individuals and families have been disproportionately burdened by the COVID-19 health crisis and economic crisis. Even before COVID-19, LGBTQ+ Americans were more likely to be uninsured and unemployed, and were more likely to experience poverty, have a pre-existing condition, and experience food insecurity. These barriers have posed unique risks to the physical and financial health of LGBTQ+ people during this crisis. The President’s American Rescue Plan makes significant investments in an equitable recovery, and is helping LGBTQ+ families across the country recover from COVID-19 by:
- Addressing food insecurity among LGBTQ+ communities by increasing the value of nutrition assistance by 15 percent.
- Advancing health equity for LGBTQ+ Americans, who remain more likely to be uninsured, by improving access to and affordability of health coverage through the Marketplace, and expanding mental health resources.
- Supporting LGBTQ+ Americans, who are more likely to experience unemployment and continue to face discrimination in the job market, by extending unemployment insurance benefits critical to helping many families, including LGBTQ+ families, stay afloat.
- Addressing the disproportionate rates of housing insecurity and homelessness faced by LGBTQ+ Americans, especially transgender youth, by expanding emergency rental assistance programs.
Signing and Leading Implementation of a Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World. President Biden directed all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons. His Memorandum establishes that it “shall be the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons around the world.” As previously highlighted by the White House, Departments and Agencies are already making progress in areas towards the goals outlined in the Presidential Memorandum, including: strengthen existing efforts to combat the criminalization by foreign governments of LGBTQ+ people and expand efforts to combat discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance on the basis of LGBTQ+ status or conduct; protect vulnerable LGBTQ+ refugees and asylum seekers; help ensure the Federal Government has a swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBTQ+ persons abroad; and build coalitions with like-minded nations to counter discrimination against LGBTQ+ people around the world.
Establishing the White House Gender Policy Council to Advance Gender Equity and Equality. President Biden signed an Executive Order establishing the White House Gender Policy Council to advance gender equity and equality across the whole of the government, including by addressing barriers faced by LGBTQ+ people, in particular transgender women and girls, across our country.
Ensuring Educational Environments are Free from Sex Discrimination and Protecting LGBTQ+ Students from Sexual Harassment. President Biden signed an Executive Order recommitting the Federal Government to guarantee educational environments free from sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and directing the Department of Education to review and as necessary consider revising agency actions that are inconsistent with that policy. The Executive Order charged the Department of Education with reviewing the significant rates at which students who identify as LGBTQ+ are subject to sexual harassment, including sexual violence.
Signing a National Security Memorandum Supporting Federal Employees Serving Overseas, including LGBTQ+ Employees. President Biden signed a National Security Memorandum on Revitalizing America’s Foreign Policy and National Security Workforce, Institutions, and Partnerships. The Memorandum directs agencies to take steps to retain, develop, promote, and support LGBTQ+ and other national security employees, and employees with LGBTQ+ family members.
Ensuring Transgender Americans Can Access Emergency Shelter That Dignifies and Respects Their Identity. The Department of Housing and Urban Development restored protections for transgender individuals seeking emergency shelter and homeless services. HUD reaffirmed its commitment that no person be denied access to housing or other critical services because of their gender identity.
Creating a Historically Diverse Cabinet and Administration. The Biden-Harris Administration includes barrier-breaking LGBTQ+ leaders, including Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who is the first openly gay Cabinet Secretary confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine, who is the first openly transgender person ever confirmed by the U.S. Senate. President Biden has assembled the most diverse Administration in our Nation’s history, and is proud to serve alongside the 14 percent of all appointees who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.
Issuing the First White House Proclamation for Transgender Day of Visibility. On March 31, 2021 President Biden became the first U.S. President to issue a proclamation commemorating Transgender Day of Visibility. The proclamation honored and celebrated the achievements and resiliency of transgender individuals and communities, and recognized the generations of struggle, activism, and courage that have brought our country closer to full equality for transgender and gender non-binary people in the United States and around the world.
Ensuring Pride Flags Fly on U.S. Embassies Around the World. The State Department announced it will allow U.S. diplomatic outposts to fly the Pride flag on the same flagpole as the U.S. flag at their embassy or consulate, demonstrating that the United States will lead on LGBTQI+ human rights around the world.