Biden recognizes LGBTQ survivors in World AIDS Day statement


Despite President Biden’s presence in the White House and Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, efforts to update federal civil rights laws to strengthen the ban on discrimination against LGBTQ people in adopting the Equality Act are practically dead because opponents of the measure have distorted it. beyond recognition.

The political will is lacking to find a compromise that would be acceptable to enough Republican senators to end the filibustering of the bill – a tall order anyway – and there is also no will to force a vote on equality law as opponents fuel fears over transgender people. children in sport and not even unanimity within the Democratic caucus in favor of the bill is present, said stakeholders who spoke to the Blade on condition of anonymity.

In fact, there are no imminent plans to hold a vote on the legislation even though Pride Month is just a few days away, which would be a good time for Congress to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community by hosting a vote on the legislation.

If the equality law were to be put to a vote in the Senate next month, it would not have the support needed to pass. Continued assurances that bipartisan talks are continuing on the legislation have yielded no evidence of further support, let alone the 10 Republicans needed to end an obstruction.

“I haven’t really heard of an update anyway, which is generally not good,” a Democratic insider said. “I understand that our side was anchored in an uncompromising mindset and with [Sen. Joe] Manchin saying he didn’t like the bill, he condemned it in Congress. And the bullying of hundreds of trans athletes derailed our message and our arguments about why this was badly needed. “

The only thing preventing the last nail from being driven into the coffin of the equality law is the reluctance of its supporters to admit defeat. Other stakeholders who spoke to Blade continued to assert that bipartisan talks are underway, strongly rejecting any conclusion that the legislation is dead.

Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said the equality law is “alive and well,” citing broad public support which he said includes “the majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents and a growing number of communities across the country engaging and mobilizing every day in support of the legislation.

“They understand the urgent need to pass this bill and stand up for LGBTQ people across our country,” added David. “As we engage with elected officials, we are confident that Congress will listen to the voice of its constituents and continue to fight for the equality law throughout the lengthy legislative process. We will also continue our unprecedented campaign to increase already high public support for a popular bill that will save lives and make our country fairer and more equal for all. We will not stop until the equality law is passed.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), The main sponsor of the Senate Equality Act, also signaled through a spokesperson that work on the legislation continues, refusing to abandon the expectations that legislation would soon become law.

“Sen. Merkley and his team are in active discussion with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try and make this happen,” McLennan said. “We definitely see it as a key priority that should become law.”

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.), who had promised to force the vote on the equality law in the Senate the day the US House approved it earlier this year, noted a March 25 letter “Dear Colleague” in which he identified the equality law as one of many bills he would put to a vote.

Despite all the assurances, the blocking of the bill is obvious. Although the United States House approved the legislation earlier this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to report the bill to the prosecution the day after the very first Senate hearing on the bill. in March. A Democratic aide to the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, challenged this inaction as proof that the equality law is dead in its tracks: “Bipartite efforts on the way forward are underway. “

Democrats are quick to blame Republicans for their inaction on the equality law, but with Manchin refusing his support for the legislation, they can’t even rely on their entire caucus to vote. “Yes” if it is pronounced. Progressives continue to push for an end to filibuster to advance legislation Biden promised as part of his platform, but even if they were to overcome headwinds and dismantle the institution needing 60 votes to do advancing legislation, the Equality Act would likely not have majority support to gain Senate approval with a 50-50 split.

Manchin’s office, which previously said it could not support the equality law due to concerns about public schools having to implement transgender protections for sports and bathrooms, did not did not respond to several blade requests for legislation this year, and did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

Meanwhile, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), who declined to co-sponsor the equality law this year after signing the legislation in the previous Congress, insisted through a spokesperson, Talks are continuing despite appearances of the legislation. is dead.

“There is always bipartisan support for the passage of a law that protects the civil rights of Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Annie Clark, spokesperson for Collins. “The Equality Act was a starting point for negotiations, and in its current form it cannot pass. That is why discussions are underway between senators and stakeholders on the way forward.

Let’s face it: Anti-LGBTQ forces have moved the debate forward by passing the Equality Act to end women’s sports by allowing transgender athletes and putting women at risk in places where the sex is separated like bathrooms and prisons. This does not even solve the problem of the distinction between the civil rights of LGBTQ people and religious freedom, which continues to be debated in the courts, as the United States Supreme Court is expected to render a one-day decision to l ‘other in Fulton v. The City of Philadelphia will determine whether foster care agencies can reject same-sex couples based on religious objections.

For transgender Americans, who continue to report discrimination and violence at high rates, the absence of equality law can be felt more severely.

Mara Keisling, outgoing executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, took issue with any notion that the equality law is dead and insisted the legislation is “very much alive”.

“We remain optimistic despite disinformation from the opposition,” Keisling said. “NCTE and our partners in the movement are still working fruitfully on Equality Law with Senators. In fact, we are growing with all the organization on the ground that we do, like the voters of the telephone banking to call their senators. Legislating takes time. Nothing ever goes through Congress quickly. We expect to see a vote at this Congress, and we hope we can win. “

But a Democratic source said appeals to members of Congress against the Equality Act, apparently coordinated by groups like the Heritage Foundation, outnumbered calls for it, with particular emphasis on Manchin.

There are no media stories of same-sex couples kicked out of restaurants for holding hands or transgender people for using the toilet in accordance with their gender identity, which would be perfectly legal in 25 States through the patchwork of civil rights laws. across the United States and inadequate protections under federal law.

Tyler Deaton, senior advisor to the American Unity Fund, which supported the Republican-led fairness for all law as an alternative to the equality law, said he continued to believe the votes were present for a form of compromise of the bill.

“I know for a fact that there is a level of qualified majority support in the Senate for a version of the equality law that fully protects both LGBTQ civil rights and religious freedom,” Deaton said. “There is interest on both sides of the aisle in doing something this Congress.”

Deaton, however, did not respond to a follow-up investigation into existing evidence of agreement on this compromise.

Biden has already missed the target he campaigned on in the 2020 election to sign the Equality Act within the first 100 days of his tenure. Although Biden reiterated his call for the legislation to pass in his speech to Congress last month, as it stands, it seems like a goal he will not achieve for the rest of this Congress.

The Biden administration also hasn’t made the equality law a problem for senior administration officials, as it advocates an infrastructure package as a top priority. A Democratic insider said Louisa Terrell, director of legislative affairs for the White House, had delegated work on the equality law to a deputy instead of dealing with it herself.

Certainly, Biden has shown his support for the LGBTQ community through executive action at an unprecedented rate, signing an executive order on day one ordering federal agencies to implement the US Supreme Court ruling. last year in Bostock v. Clayton County to the extent possible. and the dismantling of former President Trump’s transgender military ban. Biden also made historic LGBTQ dates with confirmation from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rachel Levine as Assistant Secretary of Health.

A White House spokesperson insisted that Biden’s team in all areas remain committed to the equality law, underscoring his remarks in Congress.

President Biden has urged Congress to put the Equality Act on his desk so he can sign it and provide long-awaited civil rights protections for LGBTQ + Americans, and he remains committed to seeing this legislation passed on as quickly as possible, ”the spokesperson said. . “The White House and its entire legislative team remain in close and ongoing coordination with organizations, leaders, members of Congress, including the Equality Caucus, and staff to ensure that we are working all over the place. to advance equality law. “

But at least in the short term, these advancements will fail to deliver on the promise to update federal civil rights law with equality law, meaning LGBTQ people will not be able to rely on these protections when ‘they face discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.


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