President BidenJoe BidenSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Did President Biden institute a vaccine mandate for only half the nation's teachers? Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE celebrated Pride Month at the White House on Friday and called for actions to protect the LGBT community, including Senate passage of the Equality Act.
“Our presence here this afternoon makes a simple, strong statement: Pride is back at the White House,” Biden said in prepared remarks.
Biden said Pride Month is about “being able to love yourself, love whoever you love, and love this country enough to make it more fair and more free and more just."
The president renewed his call for the Senate to pass the Equality Act and send it to his desk for a signature.
“When a same-sex couple can be married in the morning but denied a lease in the afternoon for being gay, something is still wrong,” Biden said.
The Equality Act would prohibit discrimination based on “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity.” The House passed the measure largely along party lines earlier this year in a 224-206 vote, with just three Republicans supporting it. The Senate has yet to take up the bill.
Biden said Friday that the Equality Act will also protect against “disturbing” anti-LGBT bills in state legislatures, adding that several bills have passed in states, calling them “un-American.”
“Let’s be clear: This is no more than bullying disguised as legislation,” he said.
Biden earlier on Friday signed legislation to designate the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., as the National Pulse Memorial to honor the victims of the 2016 mass shooting. Forty-nine people died at the gay nightclub.
“Representation matters, recognition matters. There’s something else that matters: results. Results. I’m proud to lead the most pro-LGBTQ equality administration in U.S. history,” Biden said.
Biden on Friday walked through a corridor outside the White House's East Room that is lit up in rainbow colors for Pride Month.
“Progress won’t come easily, it never has. We’re going to stand strong, stand together. I promise you we will succeed, I promise you,” Biden said.
Transportation Secretary Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Blumenthal calls on Buttigieg to investigate American Airlines-JetBlue partnership LGBT film festival to premiere documentary about Pete Buttigieg MORE, the first Senate-confirmed openly gay Cabinet member in U.S. history, thanked Biden for his years advocating for the LGBT community.
“Us even being here proves how much change is possible in America,” Buttigieg said, touting the fact that officials were at the White House “wishing each other happy Pride.”
“There have been great leaps forward in this country, but there are reminders everywhere about what it looked like to move back. Not just shocking acts of violence like the Pulse shooting that this country rightly commemorates but in the everyday grind of politics, as rights and equality come up for debate," Buttigieg said.
Biden and Buttigieg both acknowledged Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel LevineRachel LevineHHS launches new climate health office Delta variant raises fears of worsening mutations Biden nominates first openly-gay woman to serve as US ambassador MORE, who stood up to applause. Levine in the first openly trans Senate-confirmed federal official.
Buttigieg also spoke on the legislation in some states that is targeting transgender people.
There is an “especially dangerous political strategy arising in some states right now. Some politics try to gain advantage by picking on transgender kids, some of the most vulnerable people in this country,” the secretary said.
“You’re the best man,” Biden said of Buttigieg following his remarks.
Ashton Mota of the GenderCool Project, a 16-year-old transgender student from Massachusetts, also spoke on the support needed for transgender youth.
“It’s simple. When children are loved, we thrive. Because of the love and support I’ve received, I became a proud advocate for the trans community,” Mota said.
He also touted the importance of Congress passing the Equality Act.
“Mr. President, thank you for having our back,” Mota said.
Sens. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinWarren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack This week: Democrats kick off chaotic fall with Biden's agenda at stake Bottom line MORE (D-Wis.) and Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBiden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict Senate Democrats to Garland: 'It's time to end the federal death penalty' Hillicon Valley: Cryptocurrency amendment blocked in Senate | Dems press Facebook over suspension of researchers' accounts | Thousands push back against Apple plan to scan US iPhones for child sexual abuse images MORE (D-Del.), Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineHillicon Valley —Apple is not a monopoly, judge rules Judge rules Apple is not 'illegal monopolist' in high-profile Epic case Democrats' Jan. 6 subpoena-palooza sets dangerous precedent MORE (D-R.I.), and Alphonso David of the Human Rights Campaign were in the audience at the event.