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Biden calls for passage of the Equality Act, denounces state legislative attacks on trans youth in State of the Union

The Hill logo The Hill 3/2/2022 Brooke Migdon | March 2, 2022
Biden calls for passage of the Equality Act, denounces state legislative attacks on trans youth in State of the Union © (Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times via AP, Pool) Biden calls for passage of the Equality Act, denounces state legislative attacks on trans youth in State of the Union

President Biden during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening demanded more protections for LGBTQ+ people in the U.S., urging Congress to pass the Equality Act and calling states' proposed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation - most of which target LGBTQ+ youth - "wrong."

"...For our LGBTQ+ Americans, let's finally get the bipartisan Equality Act to my desk. The onslaught of state laws targeting transgender Americans and their families is wrong," he told a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. "As I said last year, especially to our younger transgender Americans, I will always have your back as your President, so you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential."

Biden delivered a strikingly similar message to LGBTQ+ Americans last year - a year the Human Rights Campaign dubbed as the worst in recent history for LGBTQ+ state legislative attacks - calling transgender youth "brave" and asking them to remember that "your president has your back."

Ahead of Biden's State of the Union, "Pose" actress Angelica Ross delivered the LGBTQ State of the Union, where she accused the president and his administration of doing the "bare minimum" for LGBTQ+ youth.

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"You say trans youth are brave and claimed to have their backs, and your administration has not done enough to sufficiently protect them. Talk is cheap. We need you to act," she said.

Ross, who is a transgender woman, also called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would build on existing civil rights laws to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in all 50 states. More than a year after the legislation was passed by the House, it remains stalled in the Senate, where its fate is still uncertain.

"We urge Congress to move this groundbreaking bill forward, and we implore the Biden administration: continue putting pressure on them to do so," she said.


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Ross told transgender and nonbinary youth during her address that: "I understand the very unique pain of watching your basic freedoms become pawns in our nation's fractured political system. If it all feels overwhelming at times, you're right; it is. But listen up, my dears, because this is important. You are remarkable. You are powerful. You are unstoppable. No amount of hateful rhetoric will ever change that."

The White House has already condemned some anti-LGBTQ+ legislation proposed this year, including Florida's now-infamous "Don't Say Gay" bill, which could arrive on Gov. DeSantis' (R) desk as soon as next week.

"Every parent ... hopes that our leaders will ensure their [children's] safety, protection and freedom, and today conservative politicians in Florida rejected those basic values by advancing legislation that is designed to target and attack kids who need that support the most, kids from LGBTQI+ community," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last month during a media briefing.

Biden also chimed in on Twitter, again telling LGBTQ+ youth that he has their back.

"I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community - especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill - to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are," he wrote. "I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve."

More recently, the White House last week denounced views expressed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) that gender-affirming care for trans or nonbinary youth is considered "abuse" under state law.

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