President Joe Biden on Oct. 14, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden addressed attendees at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner on Saturday with prepared remarks about the struggle for equality for LGBTQ people in the U.S. and around the world.
“Extreme MAGA Republicans in Congress are trying to undo virtually every bit of progress we’ve made — trying to wipe out federal funding to end the HIV epidemic, strip funding for community venters for seniors, reinstate the ban on transgender troops, ban the Department of Justice from enforcing civil rights laws, ban Pride flags from flying on public land,” the president said.
These lawmakers are trying to interfere with “the right to make your own healthcare decisions, the right to raise your own children,” he said, adding, “I’m never going to stand by and watch families terrorized, doctors and nurses criminalized, or any child targeted for who they are.”
The president relayed that a 13-year-old trans teen wrote to him, sharing how painful it was to see anti-trans legislative activity on the news. A parent wrote to him too, he said, explaining, “I despair for families like mine who have already become refugees inside our own nation” amid the spate of anti-LGBTQ laws.
The president’s remarks also touched on the 25th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, which came on Thursday, in an anti-gay hate crime, as well as the terrorist attacks against Israel last weekend.
“Silence is complicity,” the president said, echoing comments he made during a roundtable on anti-semitism on Thursday. Anti-semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia “are all related,” he said, and hate never goes away — it only hides.
The president highlighted his record advancing LGBTQ rights, from the historic number of LGBTQ appointees serving in the Biden-Harris administration to signage of the Respect for Marriage Act last year to rescinding “the outdated policy of banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood — leading with science, not stigma.”
“Thank you for your courage, thank you for your hope, and thank you for your pride,” the president said. “You’re loved and you’re heard and you’re understood and you belong.”
Taking the stage before the president was First Lady Jill Biden, who told the crowd “I’m so proud that this community has made D.C. such a welcoming home to LGBTQ+ people — from where we came, when outing was used as a political weapon” to now, when “we can celebrate without fear or shame.”
However, the first lady said, “In too many other parts of our country, these rights and freedoms are under attack across the country in places like Texas and Florida and Alabama. LGBTQ individuals don’t have the freedom to be honest with their family, or race, or gender identity at work,” she said.
“So while we celebrate this beautiful community tonight, let’s also remember how lucky we are and harden our resolve to advocate for those who are not.”
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