A day before the first anniversary of the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) celebrates the progress made on LGBTQ+ rights under the Biden-Harris administration. Since day one, the Biden-Harris White House has taken concrete and meaningful steps to reverse the anti-LGBTQ+ policies of the previous administration, while also working to ensure that government agencies do not discriminate on sexual orientation and gender identity, close gaps in measurable outcomes for marginalized populations, and increase LGBTQ+ representation at all levels of government.
“We at the Human Rights Campaign would like to thank President Biden and Vice President Harris for their principled and committed policies in support of LGBTQ+ rights,” said HRC Acting President Joni Madison. “For a community that is too often attacked by a variety of regressive and selfish actors, having strong LGBTQ+ allies in the White House has been a comfort to the community. From rolling back discriminatory policies and providing affirmative protections against discrimination, to appointing LGBTQ+ people to important positions, to continuing to share the message about the importance of inclusion and LGBTQ+ equality, this administration has been as consistent in advancing the cause of progress as any we’ve seen. Much remains to be done, and we at HRC look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration and its partners in Congress to ensure that essential reforms – including LGBTQ+ protections in the Equality and guarantees of the right to vote currently before the Senate – to become the law of the land.
Some Highlights of Policy Advances in the administration’s first year in office regarding LGBTQ+ rights include:
On his first day in office, the president issued an executive order that required the federal government to align its policies with the landmark Supreme Court Bostock decision.
In June 2020, the United States Supreme Court affirmed that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is a prohibited form of sex discrimination. However, Trump’s Justice Department failed to adequately direct the federal government to implement the decision, leading to dangerous misinterpretations. This state of affairs was resolved via President Biden’s first day’s agenda.
During their first week in office, the White House issued an executive order repealing the Trump-era ban on transgender military service and ensuring transgender service members are able to serve openly.
After extensive study by the Pentagon, the Obama administration and Pentagon leadership moved forward with the elimination of the military transgender ban and allowing transgender service members to serve openly. In July 2017, President Trump announced a total ban on Twitter without any consultation with Pentagon leaders. President Biden, during his first week in office, issued an executive order rescinding the ban.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development withdrew a Trump-era proposal to undermine the equal access rule.
The federal agency withdrew proposed Trump-era changes to the Equal Access Rule (EAR). The Obama administration’s EAR provides protections against discrimination in HUD-funded housing and programs based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. It also protects LGBTQ+ families and ensures those seeking emergency housing are safely housed in accordance with their gender identity.
The State Department announced changes to passport gender markers to include intersex and non-binary people.
The Biden-Harris administration announced in June 2021 that the US State Department would begin the process of including a non-binary gender marker and would have modernized existing requirements for updating gender markers on passports. Americans – a policy that will impact millions of people in the United States, including 1.2 million non-binary adults, 2 million transgender people and up to 5.5 million people who were born intersex. The first such passport was issued in October 2021, with the expectation that routine applications will be processed in 2022.
The administration formed a interagency working group focused on safety, inclusion and opportunity for transgender people.
President Biden announced in June the creation of a White House-led interagency task force to coordinate policies to advance security, economic opportunity and inclusion for transgender people. The group includes participants from the Ministries of Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security, Labor, Interior, Veterans Affairs and defense.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has become the first Senate-confirmed member of the President’s Cabinet be openly LGBTQ+.
The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor and presidential candidate was confirmed on a bipartisan basis with an 86-13 vote. As a candidate, he was the first openly LGBTQ+ person to win a presidential primary or caucus.
Dr Rachel Levine was confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Health to the Department of Health and Human Services and promoted to four-star Admiral.
Levine, the former Commonwealth of Pennsylvania health secretary, became the first openly transgender person to be sworn in to a Senate-confirmed post in March. Levine was further recognized with a promotion to four-star Admiral of the Corps of the United States Public Health Services Commission, becoming the nation’s first openly transgender four-star officer.
HRC’s timeline of policies and accomplishments related to the LGBTQ+ community during President Biden’s first year details these and other notable milestones paving the way to a more equitable future for all LGBTQ+ people.
Even in light of the manifest achievements of the past year, much remains to be done. In November 2020, the Human Rights Campaign released the Blueprint for Positive Change, a document detailing over 80 policy changes the administration should implement to meaningfully improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people. Many of these proposals still await implementation, and their implementation, along with the passage of the Equality Act, would help ensure that LGBTQ+ people for decades to come can fully participate in all segments of society.
Among the policy changes needed, some of the most urgent include:
End the FDA discriminatory ban on blood donation of men who have sex with men, which may also help address the national blood crisis.
FDA policy does not treat people with similar risks in the same way. Currently, donors are excluded based on their membership in a group – in this case, all men who have sex with men – rather than their engagement in risky behavior. The HRC strongly encouraged the FDA to revise the donor questionnaire based on an individual sexual behavior risk assessment based on which all donors are assessed equally, regardless of sexual orientation or gender. gender identity.
To forbid the practice of conversion therapy as a fraudulent business practice.
So-called “conversion therapy”, sometimes referred to as “reparative therapy”, is a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Such practices have been rejected by all mainstream medical and mental health organizations for decades. HRC supports legislative and policy efforts to reduce the unscientific and harmful practice of sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts.
Cancellation and replacement regulations limiting section 1557 coverage of the ACA.
The Trump administration finalized a rule implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act in 2020, designed to eliminate explicit protections against discrimination based on sex stereotypes and gender identity, thereby criminalizing discrimination against LGBTQ people, especially transgender and non-binary people, in federally funded countries. health care programs and activities. The rule was blocked by a preliminary injunction in response to a lawsuit filed by the Human Rights Campaign.
Eliminate beneficiary discrimination in charitable choices and faith-based initiatives.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was designed to protect the constitutional right of minority religious groups to freely exercise their religious beliefs. Despite this direct and targeted intent, individuals and corporations have worked to turn RFRA into a blank check to discriminate against or impose their religious beliefs on others. When LGBTQ+ people, religious minorities and women need access to the social safety net, they should know that when they go to a federally funded entity, such as a non-profit organization, for example , they will not be refused because of the identity of this entity. religious beliefs.
Continue to appoint LGBTQ+ people at all levels of government and ensure that these appointees reflect the full diversity of the community.
Even after achieving a number of LGBTQ+ firsts with the range of appointments in the first year of the Biden administration, there remain positions that no openly LGBTQ+ person has ever held. Greater representation of this growing population within the ranks of government will serve to ensure that key marginalized groups are better served and treated fairly.
Ja Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are considered full members of society at home, at work and in every community.