GLAAD is monitoring the Biden administration’s executive orders, legislative support, speeches and nominations that affect LGBTQ people and rights.
01.05.2022 Health and Human Services proposes rule change to reinstate and expand protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the Affordable Care Act. The proposal amends regulations so that healthcare exchanges, issuers, and agents and brokers are prohibited from discriminating, including denying coverage for gender-affirming care.
12.18.2021 Senate confirms Rufus Gifford, former ambassador to Denmark, as chief of protocol for the U.S. State Department, a position that will once again give him the rank of ambassador. The chief of protocol for the State Department is responsible for being on the frontlines of engagement in U.S. foreign policy, which means being the gateway between foreign leaders and the president. Gifford tweeted: “I am humbled & reminded that gay people were routinely denied security clearances in the US as recently as 1995. As a twice confirmed Ambassador, I think about my predecessors denied these opportunities. Progress”
12.09.2021 Announces Gautam Raghavan, a gay Indian-American, will be the highest-ranking out member of the White House staff when he advances to director of the Office of Presidential Personnel. White House statement notes that during the Obama-Biden Administration, “Raghavan served in the White House Office of Public Engagement as liaison to the LGBTQ community as well as the Asian American & Pacific Islander community, as Acting White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of Defense, and as Outreach Lead for the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Working Group. A first-generation immigrant, Raghavan was born in India, raised in Seattle, and graduated from Stanford University. He is the editor of “West Wingers: Stories from the Dream Chasers, Change Makers, and Hope Creators Inside the Obama White House.” He lives with his husband and their daughter in Washington, D.C.”
12.09.2021 Out former Atlanta city official Reese Adams McCranie appointed Senior Advisor for the Office of Public Affairs at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Prior to his appointment, McCranie worked for the City of Atlanta for 12 years, most recently as Deputy Chief Equity Officer for Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and served as Director of Policy and Communications at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from 2013-2018. McCranie is a member of GLAAD’s Board of Directors.
12.07.2021 Senate confirms Chris Magnus as commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. Magnus will be the first out commissioner of the federal government’s largest law enforcement agency. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alexander Mayorkas swore in Commissioner Magnus on December 13th and DHS noted in its announcement that “Commissioner Magnus was joined by his husband, Terrance Cheung, Deputy Commissioner Troy Miller, Executive Assistant Commissioner Benjamine Huffman, CBP Chief of Staff Lise Clavel, and members of the DHS and CBP workforce.”
12.06.2021 Jay Gilliam appointed senior LGBTQI+ coordinator at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Gilliam told the Washington Blade that he will work to ensure USAID is “giving rightful attention to all parts of our community, the L, the G, the B, the T, the Q and I and all those along the spectrum so that we can really understand and help and support and get people or maybe more attention to those that haven’t gotten it yet…. I always like to think about it from my own perspective of being black and gay and sitting in many different communities and seeing the way that I am included or not included in that work. And I think about that in relation to the needs from the global LGBTQI+ community and the way that they might have multiple identities that include privileges, that include being marginalized by broader society.” USAID administrator Samantha Power tweeted: “With decades of global human rights experience, including many years at USAID and @HRC, Jay has trained advocates across the globe to advance LGBTQI+ equality. We’re thrilled to have his expertise in this role.”
12.01.2021 Issues statement to commemorate World AIDS Day and includes LGBTQ people as survivors, in acknowledgement about the coronavirus impact on efforts against HIV: “In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted every aspect of the HIV/AIDS response, from prevention to treatment to research, the United States is redoubling efforts to confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic and achieve equitable access to HIV prevention, care, and treatment in every community—particularly for communities of color, adolescent girls and young women, and the LGBTQI+ community.”
Released new National HIV/AIDS Strategy with the goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S. by 2030, by incorporating latest data on HIV incidence; expanding focus of social determinants of health that influence HIV risk or outcomes; and encouraging reform of state HIV criminalization laws.
President Biden wore a red ribbon on his lapel, tweeting it’s “a reminder of how far we’ve come, the work we have left, and the price we paid along the way. Ending the HIV epidemic is within our reach, and my Administration is committed to finishing this work.”
A large red ribbon, the symbol of HIV solidarity and awareness, was placed over the White House north portico. First Lady Jill Biden tweeted: “Honored to continue this tradition on #WorldAidsDay, remembering the lives lost to HIV/AIDS and supporting those living with the virus across the world.”
11.20.2021 Issues statement on Transgender Day of Remembrance: “This year, at least 46 transgender individuals in this country—and hundreds more around the world—were killed in horrifying acts of violence. Each of these lives was precious. Each of them deserved freedom, justice, and joy. Today, on Transgender Day of Remembrance, we mourn those we lost in the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans, as well as the countless other transgender people—disproportionately Black and brown transgender women and girls—who face brutal violence, discrimination, and harassment… To ensure that our government protects the civil rights of transgender Americans, I charged my team with coordinating across the federal government to address the epidemic of violence and advance equality for transgender people. I continue to call on state leaders and lawmakers to combat the disturbing proliferation of discriminatory state legislation targeting transgender people, especially transgender children. As I have said before, these bills are nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation, they are un-American, and they endanger the safety and well-being of our children. I also continue to urge the Senate to swiftly pass the Equality Act so that all people are able to live free from fear and discrimination.”
The White House also hosted a first of its kind vigil to honor the transgender and gender diverse people killed this year. Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff lit 46 candles in the Diplomatic Room of the White House to represent the lives lost in the U.S. and a 47th candle to represent trans lives around the world.
11.20.2021 Releases report from the White House Interagency Working Group on Safety, Opportunity, and Inclusion for Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals. The report highlights over 45 key, early actions the administration is taking to address the root causes of anti-transgender violence, discrimination, and denial of economic opportunity, including expanding access to accurate and inclusive federal documents, expanding resources for trans youth in foster care, and updating research on the harms of so-called “conversion therapy.” The steps are a result of 15 listening sessions with trans and gender diverse people, advocates and civil rights leaders from across the country.
11.18.2021 Health and Human Services, via the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announces it will rescind “inappropriate, overly broad waivers issued by the prior Administration.” The waivers were issued to South Carolina, Texas, and Michigan and some child welfare agencies in those states, allowing taxpayer-funded agencies to ignore protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. “HHS will not condone the blanket use of religious exemptions against any person or blank checks to allow discrimination against any persons, importantly including LGBTQ+ persons in taxpayer-funded programs,” HHS’ statement read in part.
11.17.2021 Announces nomination of out lesbian Alison Nathan, currently a district judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit. The statement notes that Nathan would be the second out woman “to serve on any federal circuit court. The first is current Second Circuit Judge Beth Robinson from Vermont, who was nominated by President Biden earlier this year and confirmed by the Senate on November 1, 2021.”
10.27.2021 Department of State announces it has issued the first U.S. passport with a gender-neutral ‘X’ marker. Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ rights abroad, told the Washington Blade and the Associated Press that “Offering a third gender marker is a significant step towards ensuring that our administrative systems account for the diversity of gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.” Stern added that passports with an “X” gender marker will “reflect the true gender of the passport holder and make people safer, hopefully by reducing the likelihood of dehumanizing harassment and mistreatment that so often happens at border crossings when a person’s legal documentation does not correspond with their gender expression. When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect.” The State Department announcement notes the gender neutral marker will be offered to all routine passport applicants in early 2022 once the required system and form updates are complete.
10.26.2021 Announces nomination of Gigi Sohn to be Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, noting: “Gigi is one of the nation’s leading public advocates for open, affordable, and democratic communications networks. For over thirty years, Gigi has worked to defend and preserve the fundamental competition and innovation policies that have made broadband Internet access more ubiquitous, competitive, affordable, open, and protective of user privacy. If she is confirmed, Gigi would be the first openly LGBTIQ+ Commissioner in the history of the FCC.” The administration also nominated Jessica Rosenworcel as the commission’s chair, the first woman to chair the panel.
10.26.2021 Department of State announces statement for Intersex Awareness Day and intersex people: “Too often, intersex persons are subject to violence, to discrimination, and to abuse, solely on the basis of their sex characteristics. We recognize these obstacles and are clear in our commitment to support intersex people. We further recognize the hard work of intersex activists, intersex human rights organizations, and allies who work to promote and to protect the human rights of intersex persons globally. As President Biden and Secretary Blinken have made clear, it is the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics. The Department of State is committed to promoting the freedom, the dignity, and equality of life of all persons, including of course intersex persons, and we will continue to do that.”
10.26.2021 Releases first National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, a 42-page strategy from the White House Gender Policy Council, explained by Jennifer Klein, the council’s co-chair: the guiding principle that underlies the strategy, is that we will take an intersectional approach that recognizes overlapping forms of discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ability, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity. All of those things are really embedded in that guiding principle. And I will also say in the creation of the strategy, as I mentioned, we spoke to 270 young people. … We divided them into groups so that people would have a chance to really participate and really speak, … and many of those actually included gender-nonconforming people as well as transgender people.
10.21.2021 Out White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wears purple for GLAAD Spirit Day to support LGBTQ youth, and appears at the White House press briefing to say the disproportionate rate of bullying of LGBTQ youths “reinforces the need” for Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination against LGBTQ people, then relayed a personal story of Spirit Day’s impact: “A younger staffer recently told me that in high school he noticed how many people wore purple on Spirit Day and how much that meant to him as a young closeted teen. I could only hope that young people who might be watching or see clips of this briefing will know that they are supported and represented in the highest levels of government today. So today I join people around the world in wearing purple to show solidarity with victims of domestic violence and with lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender, queer, and intersex youth. Our administration stands with you, we support you, and we love you.” The White House press team and the White House Office of Public Engagement also wore purple for Spirit Day, as did Vice President Harris.
10.20.2021 Speaks up for transgender children and against a bill passed by the Texas legislature that bans trans children from school sports. “This hateful bill in Texas is just the latest example of Republican state lawmakers using legislation to target transgender kids — whom the president believes are some of the bravest Americans — in order to score political points,” White House spokesman Ike Hajinazarian told The Dallas Morning News. “These anti-transgender bills are nothing more than bullying disguised as legislation and undermine our nation’s core values.” The administration “will keep fighting for the full measure of equality, dignity, and respect that all LGBTQI+ Americans deserve,” Hajinazarian said, adding that “the White House will be engaging stakeholders in Texas and other states in the coming days and weeks to build a path forward together toward true LGBTQI+ equality.”
10.18.2021 Health and Human Services (HHS) announces Dr. Rachel Levine was sworn in as a four-star admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the Corps’ first-ever female and first out transgender four-star admiral. Admiral Levine will lead 6,000 Public Health Service officers dedicated to serving underserved and vulnerable populations. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra: “Admiral Levine’s historic appointment as the first openly transgender four-star officer is a giant step forward towards equality as a nation. This is a proud moment for us at HHS. Admiral Levine — a highly accomplished pediatrician who helps drive our agency’s agenda to boost health access and equity and to strengthen behavioral health — is a cherished and critical partner in our work to build a healthier America.”
10.11.2021 Issues statement to commemorate National Coming Out Day, which reads in part: To LGBTQ+ people across the country, and especially those who are contemplating coming out: know that you are loved for who you are, you are admired for your courage, and you will have a community — and a nation — to welcome you. My Administration will always have your back, and we will continue fighting for the full measure of equality, dignity, and respect you deserve.
09.21.2021 Urges support for LGBTQIA+ people around the world in speech before the United Nations General Assembly: “The founding ethos of the United Nations places the rights of individuals at the center of our system, and that clarity and vision must not be ignored or misinterpreted… We all must call out and condemn the targeting and oppression of racial, ethnic, and religious minorities — whether it occurs in Xinjiang or northern Ethiopia or anywhere in the world. We all must defend the rights of LGBTQI individuals so they can live and love openly without fear, whether it’s Chechnya or Cameroon or anywhere.”
09.20.2021 Recognizes 10th anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell with a statement and news conference featuring out veterans: “The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which formally barred gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members from openly serving, helped move our nation closer to its foundational promise of equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. It was the right thing to do. And, it showed once again that America is at its best when we lead not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example… Today, our military doesn’t just welcome LGBTQ+ service members—it is led at the highest levels by brave LGBTQ+ veterans, including Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness Shawn Skelly, who served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. I was gratified to appoint the first openly gay Senate-confirmed Cabinet member, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and Afghanistan veteran who joined the military under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.” President Biden included a call for the Senate to pass the Equality Act, to honor the sacrifice of LGBTQ veterans and fight for full equality for all LGBTQ Americans. The Equality Act, which would provide the first federal protections from discrimination for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, education, public accommodations, credit and jury service, among other areas of life. The bill passed the House in April but has since stalled in the Senate.
09.20.21 On the 10th anniversary of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Veterans Administration announces policy clarification on eligibility for benefits for those discharged: “Today, we are also taking steps to clarify VA policy for Veterans who were given other than honorable discharges based on homosexual conduct, gender identity or HIV status. Under this newly-issued guidance, VA adjudicators shall find that all discharged service members whose separation was due to sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status are considered “Veterans” who may be eligible for VA benefits, like VR&E, home loan guaranty, compensation & pension, health care, homeless program and/or burial benefits, so long as the record does not implicate a statutory or regulatory bar to benefits.”
09.13.2021 Nominates two out candidates, Christy Goldsmith Romero for membership on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Jed Kolko as undersecretary of commerce for economic affairs at the Department of Commerce. Both are subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Goldsmith Romero, who is bisexual, is currently the special inspector general for the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Kolko, who is gay, has been chief economist at Indeed.com, the world’s largest online jobs site, since 2016. He was chief economist and vice president of analytics at online real estate site Trulia from 2011 to 2015. He is on the board of directors of the National Association for Business Economics and the California Budget and Policy Center.
08.18.2021 Leaders at the Departments of Education, Justice and Health and Human Services release back to school message for transgender students. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke: “In some places, people in positions of authority are putting up obstacles that would keep you from playing on a sports field, accessing the bathroom, and receiving the supportive and lifesaving care you may need. We’re here to say that’s wrong and it’s against the law… The Department of Justice is here, along with the Department of Education, to investigate complaints about discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. We want you to know that we are looking out for you and we are here to protect your civil rights.” HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine: “Learning environments free from bullying and harassment are vital to making sure that all students flourish, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is critical to support trans youth, their parents and their families to help them achieve the good health and wellbeing that everyone deserves.” Suzanne Goldberg, Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights: “The Department of Education and the entire federal government stand by you. Your rights at school matter. You matter.” Trans students who face harassment or discrimination because of their gender identity can file a complaint at ed.gov/ocr or with the Department of Justice at civilrights.justice.gov
08.13.2021 Appoints two out leaders for U.S. AbilityOne Commission, which administers one of the nation’s largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. Gabe Cazares, currently Director of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office for People with Disabilities, oversaw city services, programs and activities for the more than 215,000 Houstonians with disabilities. The White House statement announcing Gabe’s appointment notes: “He and his partner, Derin Dacey, live in Houston with their 4-year-old rescue dog, Sam.” Chai Feldblum is also an appointee to the commission. She led the drafting and negotiating of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and was Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission during the Obama-Biden Administration. The White House statement says Chai spearheaded the issuance of new regulations that set a goal for “12% representation in the federal workforce of people with all disabilities and 2% for people with significant disabilities. The latter group includes people with the type of disabilities hired under the AbilityOne program. Chai is a lesbian and has a psychiatric disability of anxiety disorder.”
08.05.2021 The Census Bureau announces that the Household Pulse Survey will now include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. The new version of the questionnaire, which entered the field on July 21, marks the first time a Census Bureau-sponsored survey includes questions about sexual orientation and gender identity. This is an important step in expanding federal sexual orientation and gender identity data and will help provide new insights on how LGBTQ+ families are faring through the COVID-19 pandemic.
08.05.2021 Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, announces that children of same-sex couples born abroad using surrogacy or assisted reproductive technology procedures are eligible for U.S. citizenship. Babies born overseas to married couples that include a U.S. citizen will no longer be required to have a biological connection to the American parent in order to be eligible for U.S. citizenship and family-based immigration benefits.
08.05.2021 Nominates two out women as justices to the federal bench: Vermont Supreme Court Associate Justice Beth Robinson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Charlotte Sweeney to U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. If confirmed, Robinson would be the first out woman to serve on any U.S. appeals court. Charlotte Sweeney would be the first out federal judge in Colorado and the first out woman to serve as a federal district court judge in any state west of the Mississippi. The White House statement announcing the nominations read in part: “These choices also continue to fulfill the President’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds.”
07.30.2021 Appoints out Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum for Commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, saying she led Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in New York to become “a powerful voice in the movement for equality and justice for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions.”
07.02.2021 Announces nomination of Chantale Wong as U.S. director of the Asian Development Bank. If confirmed, Wong would become the first openly lesbian ambassador.
06.30.2021 The White House hosts a virtual event featuring transgender and nonbinary leaders, athletes and youth speaking out about the impact of state legislation and their experiences of intersecting forms of discrimination. GLAAD was a streaming partner for the event, which was hosted by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and included other federal officials such as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and his transgender cousin Alex, Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, Virginia State Representative Danica Roem, Delaware State Senator Sarah McBride, and Kansas Rep. Stephanie Byers. GLAAD 20 Under 20 honorees Sameer Jha, Stella Keating, Gia Parr, and Ashton Mota, and Changing The Game’s Sarah Rose Huckman also participated.
06.30.2021 The State Department announces a new rule to create a gender marker on passports and other official federal documents for people who identify as nonbinary or intersex. In a statement, the State Department also indicated it would remove requirements such as medical certification: “The Department has begun moving towards adding a gender marker for non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming persons applying for a passport or CRBA. We are evaluating the best approach to achieve this goal.”
06.29.2021 Tweets support and links to video including testimonials from LGBTQ leaders and GLAAD 20 Under 20 honoree Ashton Mota. “To LGBTQ+ folks across the country — no matter where you are on your journey — know you are loved and accepted just as you are.”
06.25.2021 Commemorates Pride Month with speeches in the East Room of the White House. With LGBTQ leaders including GLAAD and advocates among the invited guests, out Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and GLAAD “20 Under 20” honoree Ashton Mota gave opening remarks before introducing President Biden, who said: “our presence here this afternoon makes a simple, strong statement: Pride is back at the White House. For this community and for our nation and for the world, Pride Month represents so much. It stands for courage — the courage of all those in previous generations and today who proudly live their truth. It stands for justice: both the steps we’ve taken and the steps we need to take. And above all, Pride Month stands for love — you know, being able to love yourself, love whomever you love, and love this country enough to make it more fair and more free and more just.”
06.25.2021 Signs executive order to strengthen the federal workforce and urge diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in recruiting federal workers “to achieve a work force from all segments of society.” LGBTQ people are among those from underserved communities to be recruited, hired, promoted and served as those “who have been systematically denied a full opportunity to participate in aspects of economic, social, and civic life.”
06.25.2021 Signs law designating the Pulse nightclub in Orlando as a national memorial at a White House ceremony. “A place of acceptance and joy became a place of unspeakable pain and loss. We’ll never fully recover, but we’ll remember,” President Biden said. “May no president ever have to sign another monument like this.” Pictures of the 49 people killed at the Pulse nightclub were displayed at the White House signing ceremony.
06.25.2021 Issues new statement of support for The Equality Act: “millions of Americans lack basic non-discrimination protections just because of who they are or whom they love. President Biden believes that every American must be able to live freely, openly, and safely. That’s why he continues to call on the Senate to swiftly pass the Equality Act, legislation which will provide long overdue federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ Americans and their families, while strengthening some key civil rights laws for people of color, women, people with disabilities, and people of faith.”
06.25.2021 The State Department raises the Progress Pride flag at its headquarters in Washington, DC. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley were among those who helped raise the flag, noting it is the first time a flag recognizing the LGBTQI+ community will fly there. Secretary Sherman also pointed out the “lavender scare” when nearly 1,000 State Department personnel lost their jobs because of their sexual orientation. “As much as progress we have made, as we are celebrating today, we still have to work to do to guarantee equality for LGBTQI+ people in our workplaces, in our schools, at the Department of State, in our government and in our society,” Secretary Sherman said. “We raise the Progress flag today as a signal to people everywhere that the United States is firmly committed to doing that work and for fighting for LGBTQI+ people at home and everywhere,” added Sherman.
06.25.2021 Appoints Jessica Stern US Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons. The White House released a statement recognizing the threat against LGBTQ people worldwide and the envoy’s work ahead: “At a time when the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons are increasingly threatened in all regions of the world, the Special Envoy will bring together like-minded governments, civil society organizations, corporations and international organizations to uphold dignity and equality for all.”
06.19.2021 Department of Veterans Affairs announces it will offer gender confirming surgery for transgender veterans. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said the decision allows “transgender vets to go through the full gender confirmation process with VA by their side… we’re making these changes not only because they are the right thing to do, but because they can save lives.” There are an estimated 134,000 transgender veterans in the U.S. and another 15,000 transgender people serving in the armed forces.
06.17.2021 Department of Justice files statement of interest against West Virginia’s new law banning transgender students from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity, advising that it violates Title IX of the Educational Amendment of 1972 and violates the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
06.16.2021 The Department of Education (DOE) is expected to announce protections for LGBTQ students in an opinion on Title IX, which bans discrimination “on the basis of sex” in schools.
“We just want to double down on our expectations,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told the New York Times. “Students cannot be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.”
06.16.2021 Presidential nominees and out military veterans Gina Ortiz Jones and Shawn Skelly testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Jones is President Biden’s nominee for Under Secretary of the Air Force. She will be the first out lesbian and first woman of color to serve as under secretary of a military branch if confirmed. Jones would be the second highest civilian official in the Air Force, overseeing hundreds of thousands of personnel and a budget of hundreds of billions of dollars. Shawn Skelly is nominated for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness. If confirmed, she will be the highest-ranking out transgender defense official in U.S. history.
06.07.2021 Vice President Harris, in her first overseas trip in office, meets with LGBTQ advocates in Guatemala. Vice President Harris acknowledged vulnerable communities they work with in her remarks before the roundtable meeting: “When we met last time, I was so moved to hear about the work that you have been doing, the work that has been about helping women and children, indigenous, LGBTQ, Afro-descendants, people who have long been overlooked or neglected.” Visibles of Guatemala tweeted: “Today we participated in a meeting with the vice president of the United States to talk about development opportunities for Guatemala and the search for inclusive justice. We, as an organization, spoke about the importance of addressing discrimination and acts of violence towards LGBTIQ+ people.”
06.07.201 Tweets: “To transgender Americans across the country — especially the young people who are so brave — I want you to know your President has your back. During Pride Month — and all the time.”
06.05.2021 Acknowledges the 40th anniversary of the first HIV/AIDS cases to be diagnosed. Official statement from the White House recognizes the devastation and announces new additional funding: “… more than 700,000 Americans and 32.7 million people worldwide have been lost to AIDS-related illnesses – a heartbreaking human toll that has disproportionately devastated LGBTQ+ communities, communities of color, and underserved and marginalized people around the world… I have requested $670 million from Congress, an increase of $267 million over previous levels, to aggressively reduce new HIV cases by increasing access to treatment, expanding the use of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and ensuring equitable access to services free from stigma and discrimination.”
06.04.2021 Pride flag raised over the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Energy for the first time. Secretary Jennifer Granholm tweeted: “Throughout the Department of @ENERGY, members of the LGBTQ+ community are our neighbors, friends, family, and colleagues, and world-leading scientists. Regrettably, still today, they are underrepresented in our workforce, in the broader scientific community, and face discrimination across our country. We’re humbled by the triumphs of the trailblazers that came before, and at @ENERGY we’re fighting to ensure that the clean energy future we’re striving for is an equitable one.” Homeland Security tweeted: “Today @SecMayorkas raised the #pride flag at our headquarters for the first time. Flying over our DC campus, this flag is a symbol of our commitment to our LGBTQ+ employees and the whole community.”
06.01.2021 The US Mission to the United Nations as well US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, tweets statement for Pride: “The struggle to end violence, discrimination, criminalization, and stigma against LGBTQI+ people is a global challenge that deserves a global response. This Pride Month and every month, everyone should be treated with dignity and respect no matter who they are or whom they love.”
06.01.2021 State Department issues statement for Pride month: “The Department has committed to increasing U.S. engagement on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) human rights issues abroad. The Department has committed to increasing U.S. engagement on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) human rights issues abroad. As we do so, we work with partners around the world who bring to bear expertise on their unique challenges and innovative solutions. We recognize that, through these partnerships, we will be able to build a safer, more inclusive global society for all LGBTQI+ persons. We also strive to increase visibility of and address the acute challenges faced by particularly marginalized LGBTQI+ communities, including women and girls; racial and religious minorities; persons with disabilities; and transgender, gender diverse, and intersex persons.” Embassies, including the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, and other embassies in countries where LGBTQ rights are not recognized, raise and fly Pride flags. The Embassy to the Holy See in Vatican City tweeted: “The United States respects the dignity and equality of LGBTQI+ people. LGBTQI+ rights are human rights.”
06.01.2021 Issues proclamation on first day of Pride, recognizing progress for LGBTQ Americans and recommitting to solidarity for equality: “Pride is a time to recall the trials the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community has endured and to rejoice in the triumphs of trailblazing individuals who have bravely fought — and continue to fight — for full equality. Pride is both a jubilant communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity. This Pride Month, we recognize the valuable contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals across America, and we reaffirm our commitment to standing in solidarity with LGBTQ+ Americans in their ongoing struggle against discrimination and injustice.”
05.26.2021 Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre becomes the first out gay woman to lead the White House daily press briefing and the first Black woman to do so in thirty years. Jean-Pierre led the briefing by announcing that the Senate had confirmed Kristen Clarke as the first woman and first woman of color to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Jean-Pierre acknowledged her historic moment and her role serving the country: “It’s a real honor to be standing here today. I appreciate the historic nature, I really do. But I believe that being behind this podium, being in this room, being in this building, is not about one person. It’s about what we do on behalf of the American people.”
05.26.2021 Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced as the keynote speaker at a Pentagon event recognizing Pride Month. The Washington Blade reports the event theme is “Respect, Dignity and Service,” and the announcement describes the event as “crucial to ensuring continued LGBT visibility as we continue to work toward greater equality in the workplace.” No Defense Secretary had appeared at the annual Pride event during the previous administration.
05.18.2021 U.S. State Department announces it will grant citizenship to babies born abroad to married couples with at least one American parent: “Children born abroad to parents, at least one of whom is a U.S. citizen and who are married to each other at the time of the birth, will be U.S. citizens from birth if they have a genetic or gestational tie to at least one of their parents and meet the INA’s [Immigration and Nationality Act] other requirements. Previously, the Department’s interpretation and application of the INA required that children born abroad have a genetic or gestational relationship to a U.S. citizen parent.” The new policy ensures American and binational couples who use surrogates or other reproductive assistance to give birth overseas can pass along citizenship to their children. A previously enforced policy required a child born abroad have a biological connection to an American parent to receive citizenship at birth, a distinction that was applied unfairly to same-sex couples, several of whom sued the State Department when their child was not recognized as a U.S. citizen.
05.17.2021 Issues statement commemorating International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOTB): “…both COVID-19 and rising authoritarianism around the world continue to widen economic, social, and safety gaps for LGBTQI+ people — and an epidemic of violence still rages, with a particular impact on the transgender community, specifically transgender women and girls of color. Around the world, some 70 countries still criminalize same-sex relationships. And here at home, LGBTQI+ Americans still lack basic protection in 25 states, and they continue to face discrimination in housing, education, and public services. My Administration will always stand with the LGBTQI+ community.”
05.10.2021 Announces Department of Health and Human Services will once again prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by healthcare organizations that receive federal funding. Reverses policy rollback the previous administration had announced on June 12, 2020, four years to the day of the Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people, most of whom were LGBTQ.
The First 100 Days
04.28.2021 Urges passage of the Equality Act and affirms support for transgender American, in his first presidential address to Congress. “I also hope Congress can get to my desk the Equality Act to protect 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.” First Lady Dr. Jill Biden invites transgender teenager Stella Keating to her “virtual guest box.” Keating was the first transgender teenager to testify before a Senate committee at a hearing for the Equality Act in March.
04.28.2021 Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power confirmed as administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist is also a vocal champion of LGBTQ rights. “People are suffering terribly around the world simply because of who they love and who they are,” Power told the Washington Blade during a 2017 interview. “Their own horizons are bounded. Their own travel plans are constricted because these rights are violated so blatantly and so brutally around the world.”
04.27.2021 Announces intention to nominate out veteran Gina Ortiz-Jones as Under Secretary of the Air Force. From the White House announcement: “A member of the LGBTQ community, Ms. Jones served under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Upon separation from the Air Force, Ms. Jones advised on military operations in Central and South America with the 470th Military Intelligence Brigade and U.S. Army South. She joined the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as an inaugural member of U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany and served in the Libya Crisis Intelligence Cell.”
04.26.2021 Vice President Harris acknowledges violence against LGBTQ people as a root cause of migration to the U.S., in meeting with President Alejandro Giammattei of Guatemala. VP Harris said: “[T]he people of Guatemala have been suffering greatly because of the recent hurricanes, the persistent drought, and, of course, the damage from COVID-19. And as we have discussed, these are the acute factors that, in many ways, are causing people to leave their homes despite the fact that they would probably prefer to stay. There are also longstanding issues that are often called the “root causes” of immigration. We are looking at the issue of poverty and the lack, therefore, of economic opportunities; the issue of extreme weather conditions and the lack of climate adaptation; as well as corruption and the lack of good governance; and violence against women, Indigenous people, LGBTQ people, and Afro-descendants. And we want to work with you to address both the acute causes as well as the root causes in a way that will bring hope to the people of Guatemala that there will be an opportunity for them if they stay at home.“
04.23.2021 State Department will allow U.S. missions overseas to once again fly the LGBT Pride flag on their official flagpoles, according to an internal State Department cable obtained by ABC News. The policy, announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, repeals his predecessor Mike Pompeo’s effective ban on Pride flags flying at U.S. embassies and consulates.
04.23.2021 Announces intentions to nominate West Point graduate Army veteran and out lesbian Sue Fulton for Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Department of Defense. Fulton helped push for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” The White House statement says: “Fulton founded and led SPARTA to successfully end the transgender ban, while at the same time providing counsel to Army leaders on removing the combat exclusion rule and integrating women in the combat arms. In 2011, President Obama appointed her as the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors, and she was later elected Chair (twice) with strong bipartisan support. During 8 years on the Board, she successfully advocated for significant increases in admissions of Black, Latino, and women cadets.”
04.23.2021 Announces intentions to nominate Shawn Skelly, Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Readiness, Department of Defense. Skelly served 20+ years in the U.S. Navy as a Naval Flight Officer, retiring from active duty as a Commander. The White House statement notes that Skelly “is Vice President and Co-Founder of Out in National Security, a member of the Atlantic Council’s LGBTI Advisory Council, and a member of the Service Year Alliance Leadership Council.” If confirmed by the Senate, Skelly would be the highest-ranking defense official who is openly transgender.
04.22.2021 Dept. of Justice files a statement of interest on behalf of Ashley Diamond, a Black trans woman and activist for the rights of incarcerated people. Diamond is suing Georgia’s Dept. of Corrections for being imprisoned and housed with men, where she was harassed and sexually assaulted. The statement says “The United States submits that the Eighth Amendment requires prison officials to conduct individualized assessments that lead to reasonably safe conditions of confinement and adequate medical care for all prisoners” and that prison officials violate both the U.S. Constitution and the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) by “categorically refusing to assign transgender prisoners to housing that corresponds to their gender identity even if an individualized risk assessment indicates that doing so is necessary to mitigate a substantial risk of serious harm, and [by] failing to individualize the medical care of transgender prisoners for the treatment of gender dysphoria.”
04.22.2021 Dept. of Housing and Urban Development formally withdraws Trump-era proposed rule change to reaffirm the right of transgender people to seek shelters matching their gender identity. HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge: “Access to safe, stable housing-and shelter-is a basic necessity. Unfortunately, transgender and gender non-conforming people report more instances of housing instability and homelessness than cis-gender people. Today, we are taking a critical step in affirming HUD’s commitment that no person be denied access to housing or other critical services because of their gender identity. HUD is open for business for all.”
04.12.2021 Announces intention to nominate Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus for Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He would be the first openly gay CBP commissioner. The White House statement notes: “He received his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and his master’s degree in Labor Relations from Michigan State University. Magnus attended the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government program. He has been with his husband, Terrance Cheung, for 15 years.”
04.08.2021 Pres. Biden acknowledges survivors and the loss of LGBTQ lives at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando nearly five years ago, in announcing policies to address gun violence.
03.31.2021 The Dept. of Defense issues policy updates allowing transgender Americans to once again serve openly in the military: “The revised policies prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or an individual’s identification as transgender, provide a means by which to access into the military in one’s self-identified gender provided all appropriate standards are met, provide a path for those in service for medical treatment, gender transition, and recognition in one’s self-identified gender, and seeks to protect the privacy of all Service members and to treat all Service members with dignity and respect.” The new policy will be effective April 30, 2021.
03.31.2021 President Biden issues statement proclaiming March 31, 2021, Transgender Day of Visibility, which “recognizes 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.” Pres. Biden is the first president to issue such a proclamation. Transgender Day of Visibility was first recognized in 2009.
03.26.2021 Department of Justice Civil Rights Division issues memo that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bostock decision expanding protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace can be extended to Title IX claims. “I hope this memorandum provides a starting point for your agencies to ensure the consistent and robust enforcement of Title IX, in furtherance of the commitment that every person should be treated with respect and dignity,” says the memo from Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan.
03.24.2021 Dr. Rachel Levine becomes first out transgender presidential nominee to be confirmed by the Senate. Dr. Levine is Assistant Secretary for Health in the Dept. of Health and Human Services, and the highest-ranking transgender federal official.
03.08.2021 On International Women’s Day, signs executive order to guarantee all students “an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, which encompasses sexual violence, and including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
03.08.2021 Creates Gender Policy Council with the goal of advancing equality and equity for women and girls, and ensure the federal government works to advance equal rights and opportunity, regardless of gender or gender identity. The executive order includes LGBTQ people as among those who “suffer discrimination based on multiple factors, including membership in an underserved community.”
03.02.2021 Gina Raimondo sworn in as Secretary of Commerce. Raimondo, as the first female governor of Rhode Island, signed a bill updating the state’s parenting and adoption laws saying, “No parent should have to jump through hoops to receive legal recognition because of their sexual orientation or the circumstances of their child’s birth.” Gov. Raimondo also restored veterans benefits to military veterans discharged because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and signed a law banning so-called “conversion therapy.”
03.01.2021 Miguel Cardona confirmed as Secretary of Education. Cardona, a former public school teacher, principal and administrator, upheld the rights of transgender students during his confirmation hearing: “I think it’s the legal responsibility of schools to provide opportunities for students to participate in activities and this includes students who are transgender… I believe schools should offer the opportunity for students to engage in extracurricular activities, even if they’re transgender. I think that’s their right.”
03.01.2021 Vice President Harris tweets: “Women make history every day. Some we know—the Suffragettes, the Riveters. The stories of others—especially women of color and LGBTQ women—have gone untold. This Women’s History Month, we honor these women and all women.”
02.25.2021 Dr. Rachel Levine becomes the first presidential appointee to undergo a Senate confirmation hearing. Levine discussed her record in public health, pediatric care, and the battles against opioid addiction and Covid-19. Levine also endured invasive and transphobic questioning from Sen. Rand Paul during the hearing.
02.25.2021 Tweets: “Transgender rights are human rights — and the House made that clear today by passing the Equality Act. Now it’s time for the Senate to do the same.”
02.24.2021 Secretary of State Antony Blinken announces US intends to seek a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, promising to pursue a policy to advance gender equality, uplift the rights of women, and end violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
02.22.2021 Linda Thomas-Greenfield confirmed as US Ambassador to the UN. Amb. Thomas-Greenfield’s record includes advancing LGBTQ rights in 2012 as Ambassador to Monrovia, where she deployed “gumbo diplomacy,” inviting the minister of information and local LGBTQ youth to dinner in effort to lower the risk of LGBTQ harassment.
02.19.2021 Issues statement on introduction of The Equality Act in Congress and to urge its passage: “Full equality has been denied to LGBTQ+ Americans and their families for far too long. Despite the extraordinary progress the LGBTQ+ community has made to secure their basic civil rights, discrimination is still rampant in many areas of our society. The Equality Act provides long overdue federal civil rights protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, locking in critical safeguards in our housing, education, public services, and lending systems – and codifying the courage and resilience of the LGBTQ+ movement into enduring law.”
02.11.2021 Department of Housing and Urban Development implements LGBTQ protections in housing, becoming first federal agency to implement Pres. Biden’s executive order to interpret Supreme Court Bostock ruling and include gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes under ban on sex discrimination.
02.10.2021 Appoints 12 professionals to the Covid-19 Health Equity Task Force, created to address Covid-19 inequities, according to “race, ethnicity, geography, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other factors.”
02.10.2021 Agrees to a temporary stay ordered in DC District Court, preventing last-minute Trump administration rollback of LGBTQ protections at agencies receiving HHS funding, including shelters, medical services and senior services.
02.09.2021 Press Secretary Jen Psaki responds to a reporter’s question about trans policy in the daily briefing, saying, “The president’s belief is that trans rights are human rights.”
02.05.2021 The CDC issues a report on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on LGBTQ Americans, including increased risk for severe symptoms and long-term complications. The report specifically points to the lack of LGBTQ inclusion in data collection and recommends that sexual orientation and gender identity be added to collection efforts.
02.04.2021 Issues executive memo on advancing LGBTQ human rights around the world. The memo directs all agencies “engaged abroad” to consider the implications of LGBTQ rights in funding and policy, increases protections for LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers, proposes combating criminalization of LGBTQ people in foreign nations, and directs agencies to file reports on LGBTQ human rights directives within 180 days.
02.03.2021 Issues proclamation for National Teen Dating and Violence Awareness and Prevention Month to address higher rates of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) among young women, trans and gender nonconforming youth, saying dating violence “transcends gender…and sexual orientation.”
01.30.2021 Tweets: “Over the last 10 days, I’ve taken action on: – COVID-19 – The economy – Climate change – Racial equity – Immigration – Health care – LGBTQ+ rights. And I’m just getting started.”
01.26.2021 Directs HUD to review and assess Trump-era regulatory changes, citing housing discrimination against LGBTQ, people of color, immigrants and people with disabilities. Directs HUD to assess Fair Housing Act practices.
01.25.2021 Revokes Trump’s 2018 ban on transgender military personnel and recruits. Tweets: Today, I repealed the discriminatory ban on transgender people serving in the military. It’s simple: America is safer when everyone qualified to serve can do so openly and with pride.
01.21.2021 Signs executive order to increase COVID-19 equitable data collection, pointing to lack of tracking data in underserved communities that are disproportionately impacted, specifically citing lack of data collection for LGBTQ people. Establishes COVID-19 Equity Task Force to assess whether resources have been allocated equitably, and strengthen anti-discrimination efforts.
01.20.2021 Unveils changes to White House website contact form to include the addition of pronoun fields, now with they/them nonbinary pronouns and new additions to prefix field (Mx. added).
01.20.2021 Signs executive order directing the federal government to “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all,” specifically citing LGBTQ people among the list of underserved communities. Directs the Domestic Policy Council to “coordinate efforts to embed equity principles, policies, and approaches across the Federal Government” in coordination with the NSC and the National Economic Council. Directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to assess equity and launch model and pilot programs as needed, and allocate budget resources. Directs all federal agencies to conduct 200-day assessments of systemic barriers to agency services for underserved populations and to engage with stakeholder and advocacy groups. Establishes Equitable Data Working Group.
01.20.2021 Signs executive order that directs all federal agencies to implement the Supreme Court’s 2020 Bostock decision and interpreting the federal ban on sex discrimination (via the Civil Rights Act 1964) to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. The order points to ending discrimination against transgender youth in school facilities including restrooms, locker rooms, and access to sports programs.
Key LGBTQ nominations, appointments and staff hires:
Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Department of Defense: Brenda Sue Fulton
Nominee for Assistant Secretary for Readiness, Department of Defense: Shawn Skelly
Nominee for Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner: Chris Magnus
Secretary of Transportation: Pete Buttigieg
Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services: Dr. Rachel Levine
Secretary of State spokesperson: Ned Price
Deputy Press Secretary: Karine Jean-Pierre
Deputy White House Comms Director: Pili Tobar
White House Social Secretary: Carlos Elizondo
Director of Political Strategy and Outreach: Emmy Ruiz
Deputy Director, Office of Presidential Personnel: Gautam Raghavan