Dalila Ali Rajah
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'A New Day': LGBTQ+ Activists, Politicians Laud Inauguration

Sarah Kate Ellis

LGBTQ+ and other civil rights activists are expressing happiness and hope today with the inauguration of Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president.

Biden’s day one executive actions are set to strengthen protections against anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in federal government workplaces and K-12 schools. He’s promised to reverse Donald Trump’s transgender military ban, to lobby Congress to pass the Equality Act, and take other steps toward equality for all. And he’s appointing LGBTQ+ people to many key positions.

He’s announced Pete Buttigieg, the gay former mayor of South Bend, Ind., as his nominee for secretary of Transportation; if Buttigieg receives Senate confirmation, he will be the first member of the LGBTQ+ community to hold that distinction for a Cabinet position. And Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, is Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, and if confirmed she will be the highest-ranking trans person in the federal government.

Equality activists are feeling encouraged. “A new day has begun in our nation. The pro-equality future so many of us fought for for decades is closer than ever before,” said a statement issued by Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

“Yesterday, we remembered what it was like to have a president who empathized with our struggles as we remembered those lost to COVID-19. Today, we remember what it is like to have a president and vice president who truly have our back — who can take that empathy and apply it to policy that will radically improve our day-to-day lives and finally begin to heal our divides.

“From his history-making personnel decisions to the policies we expect him to release in his first 100 days, President Biden has made clear he plans on delivering for LGBTQ people and all Americans on day one. But hard work remains. In the coming months and years, the Human Rights Campaign will continue to hold this president and his administration accountable to their promises. We will continue to fight to ensure our transgender and gender-nonconforming siblings are protected and the epidemic of violence they face, disproportionately impacting Black and Brown transgender women, earns a federal response. We will continue to work to achieve the vision we know President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hold in their hearts: a vision where every individual is healthy, loved, protected and has an equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream.”

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis also released the following statement: “Today is a new page in history for our country and the LGBTQ community as a place where all belong, all can be safe and all can succeed. The Biden-Harris administration is already making historic strides for LGBTQ Americans, with a Cabinet and staff that include a record number of LGBTQ people, and executive orders enacted on day one that commit to federal workplaces free of discrimination against LGBTQ Americans. Discrimination, systemic racism and the negative policies and attacks by the previous administration created conditions for the pandemic and economic crisis to disproportionately impact the LGBTQ community and queer people of color.

“The time has never been more urgent to take bold steps for equality to lift and heal all Americans. GLAAD urges swift action including the reversal of the ban on transgender Americans in the military and for Congress to pass and President Biden to sign The Equality Act into law to provide comprehensive protections from discrimination for every LGBTQ person across the country. GLAAD research shows overwhelming support from Americans of all backgrounds in favor of laws that protect LGBTQ people. We have every expectation the new Congress and President will align those core values with laws to secure them, and center equality and justice for all.”

GLAAD also released a video of LGBTQ+ Americans celebrating the inauguration, incorporating trans performer Shea Diamond’s anthem “I Am America.”

Ben Jealous, president of People for the American Way, had this to say: “This is a great and promising moment in American history. The swearing-in of President Biden and Vice President Harris offers the possibility of transformational change, even as we must face the multiple crises around COVID-19, the economy, racial inequity, and climate change. We now have leaders who have pledged aggressive action on all these fronts in their first ten days, and an administration dedicated to righting wrongs and restoring hope for millions of people in America and around the world.  And while we must hold accountable those who all too recently have stoked bigotry and hatred in our nation, today we are profoundly moved by the opportunity for healing and unity, with the goal of bettering the democracy we share.”

Todd Gloria, the gay man who recently took office as mayor of San Diego, weighed in as well: “Today, I am filled with a renewed sense of hope and optimism for the future of our country under the leadership of President Joe Biden and, my friend, Vice President Kamala Harris. Together, I know they will provide compassionate leadership and a steady hand to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, climate change and the fight for racial justice. San Diego is ready to stand with this new administration as true partners as we rebuild our nation. Now it is time for all of us to come together, heal and move forward.”

Several other LGBTQ+ officials and activists marked the day on Twitter.

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