President Joe Biden has said he celebrates this year’s Pride month celebration with more than rainbows and decorations. He on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at combating anti-LGBTQI + communities bills introduced in state legislatures across the country.
The administration says the new order takes steps to promote equality and address discrimination, including the prevention of so-called conversion therapy that seeks to change the sexual or gender identities of LGBTQI + youth.
“Today, I’m about to sign an executive order ordering key federal agencies to protect our communities from those hateful attacks and promote equality for families,” Biden said. “My command will use the full power of the federal government to prevent inhuman prevention. Practices of conversion therapy. This is the first time that the federal government is aiming for a coordinated response to this dangerous, discredited practice.”
June is the month in the United States when LGBTQI + communities celebrate their equality and greater visibility. Rainbows are seen as a symbol of the wide spectrum of human sexuality and gender identity.
But first lady Jill Biden said several conservative states have recently pushed through laws that serve to marginalize sexual minorities.
“We know that rights are being attacked in places across the state like Florida, Texas or Alabama,” she said. “And we know that in small towns and big cities there is still prejudice and discrimination.”
Dwayne Kwaysee Wright, an assistant professor focusing on diversity at George Washington University, said Biden’s order is a step against the recent bills targeting LGBTQI + rights of Republican state lawmakers nationwide.
In Florida, legislation coming into force on July 1 will prohibit classroom discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity for children in kindergarten up to and including third grade. And Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently instructed family services to investigate parents who provide sex reassignment care for their children as child abuse.
“There are policies that say ‘do not say gay’ in Florida,” he said. “There are policies that say if you are raising a transgender child in Texas, we will investigate you. I think the administration sees this, and hopefully they will do everything they can to try to prevent, mitigate and return this attack on LGBT citizens here. ”
The LGBTQI + community is also facing increasing threats from far-right extremist groups. On Saturday, 31 members of a white supremacist group called the Patriot Front in Idaho were arrested and charged with conspiracy to riot – a violation – for allegedly plotting to disrupt a Pride event.
In the midst of these threats, the administration was eager to emphasize a message of inclusivity.
“We work around the world to protect LGBTQI + people from violence and abuse, criminalization, discrimination and stigma and to empower local LGBTQI + movements and people,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, the first Black woman and openly gay person to act as press secretary of the White House. . “We do this through bilateral and multilateral channels.”
She did not say whether Biden would deliver the message when he met with Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia next month. Kingdom officials recently seized rainbow-colored toys and clothing at shops in the capital, Riyadh, as part of a crackdown on homosexuality.
But on Wednesday, the message from the White House was clear. Hundreds of guests gathered in the rainbow-covered white house to see Javier Gomez, an 18-year-old Floridian and recent high school graduate, introduce the president.
Gomez helped organize nationwide student outings on the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
On Wednesday he stood next to the Bidens.
“My presence here is proof that we’re fighting back,” said Gomez, who plans to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology this fall. “Because our lives are wonderful, beautiful and dignified. We deserve respect and love. And until we have it, we will fight. We will continue to fight, fight for liberation. “
Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this report.