LGBTQ Organizations Respond to Biden's Joint Congressional Address

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday April 29, 2021

Vice President Kamala Harris, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., stand and applaud as President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress.
Vice President Kamala Harris, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., stand and applaud as President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress.  (Source:Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

Although it didn't deliver quite the mic drop moment of Colton Underwood's coming out, President Joe Biden offered plenty of cliffhangers for fans of political reality TV. A proposed $1.8 trillion social spending plan left some jaws on the floor, while others recognize the importance of investing in the nation's future. It wasn't just what was said, but also who was in the room.

Even though the chamber was at limited capacity due to coronavirus, one of first lady Jill Biden's special guests proudly represented the LGBTQ community, particularly when restrictive bills affecting the transgender population continue to move through local and state governments. The first lady invited 16-year-old Stella Keating, who had previously testified regarding The Equality Act, AXIOS reports.

In her compelling speech on March 16 before Congress, Keating asked, "What happens if I want to attend college in a state that doesn't protect me? Right now, I could be denied medical care or be evicted for simply being transgender in many states. How is that even right? How is that even American?"

Biden's stance on transgender issues is a far cry from his predecessor, which The National Center for Transgender Equality dubbed "The Discrimination Administration."

In contrast, Biden said in last night's address, "For all transgender Americans watching at home, especially young people who are so brave, I want you to know that your president has your back."

LGBTQ organizations were quick to respond to Biden's speech, issuing the following statements:

PFLAG National Executive Director Brian K. Bond
"We are grateful to President Biden for his unwavering support of our LGBTQ+ loved ones. His commitment to passing the Equality Act—critical legislation that would modernize our nation's civil rights laws by including explicit protections for LGBTQ people, as well as improve protections for women, people of color, people with different national origins, and people of all faiths—has meant so much to our families. We are also moved by his vocal support of our trans kids, whose rights and very lives have been under assault with hundreds of dangerous and damaging bills in 33 states across this country.

"PFLAGers everywhere join the President in calling on Congress to pass the Equality Act. Our families will continue doing the work of bravely sharing their stories with legislators about why the Equality Act would protect their LGBTQ+ loved ones—and the ways in which these dangerous and damaging anti-trans bills are hurting their kids."

NextGen America Executive Director Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez
"After four long, devastating years, we were reminded tonight what it sounds like to have strong, empathetic leadership in the White House. President Biden's first 100 days have brought us much-needed pandemic relief and plans to improve the country on everything from college affordability to LGBTQ+ rights and police reform. We have a great deal of work to do, but young people's record turnout has brought us a future full of possibility. In addition to pushing his bold legislative agenda through Congress, the president should take immediate action to cancel at least $50,000 per borrower in student loan debt."

National LGBTQ Task Force, Executive Director Kierra Johnson
"Tonight, the President laid out a broad agenda that would improve the lives of diverse LGBTQ people in this country in so many ways, from the $15 national minimum wage to the infrastructure bill and the new American Families Bill, police reform, the expansion of hate crimes protections, gun control, voting rights and protecting our democracy and more. He prioritized the Equality Act as well, saying, 'I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans. To all the transgender Americans watching at home — especially the young people who are so brave — I want you to know that your president has your back.'

"I believe Congressman John Lewis would be mighty pleased, for the President's speech shows he and Vice-President Harris are all about making good trouble."

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.

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