The president designates the gay nightclub Pulse, the site of a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, in London.
U.S. President Joe Biden celebrated Pride Month at the White House on Friday, a reflection of the growing stature of the LGBTQ community at the highest level of government.
“Pride Month represents so much,” Biden said. “It means courage. The courage of all those of past and present generations who proudly live their truth. Commitment to justice. Both the steps we have taken and the ones we need to take. And above all, Pride Month means love. “
Biden, in a shift from his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, has tried to emphasize equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, officially recognizing Pride Month with a proclamation of 1 of June and appointing LGBTQ officers to higher government positions in the United States. other actions.
“Our presence this afternoon makes a very compelling statement: Pride is back in the White House,” Biden said, after being introduced by Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who is openly gay, and a young transsexual, Ashton Mota.
“Even being here demonstrates how much change is possible in the United States,” Buttigieg said.
“So many lives have been changed, saved by sustained defense, moral resolution, the political courage of countless LGBTQ-plus leaders and allies, some elected, some invisible, some missing, some in this room right now.”
A White House aisle was lit with the colors of the rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBTQ movement, and Biden said he walks down the aisle every day as he walks between the residence and the oval office. Also on display was a candle worn during the AIDS vigil and a pair of sandals owned by Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was fatally beaten in 1998 and whose death inspired new hate crime laws.
Also Friday, Biden appointed Jessica Stern as special diplomatic envoy to the State Department for LGBTQ rights. Their responsibilities will involve ensuring that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect LGBTQ rights around the world. Stern is currently the executive director of OutRight Action International, which advocates for human rights and works to prevent abuse of LGBTQ people.
In his new role, Stern will help establish a presidential memorandum to advance the rights of LGBTQ people, as well as bring together governments, nonprofits, and related corporations to maintain equality and dignity, according to the White House.
The approach also has personal resonance for many of the Biden administration. Karine Jean-Pierre, deputy White House chief press secretary, tweeted Friday about her own story about her appearance to her mother at age 16 and the outraged look in response that left her sexuality in a family secret for many years.
“I’m proud to be a black queer woman and I’ve been for quite some time,” she wrote. “I am happy to say that now my mother is proud of EVERYTHING I am; she loves my partner and likes to be a gentle grandmother to the daughter we are raising. “
Jean-Pierre added that his journey towards acceptance was not easy, but it was worth it.
Biden also signed into law Friday a measure designating the Pulse Nightclub national memorial in Orlando, Florida. A mass shooting at the gay nightclub died in June 2016 49 people and injuries 53.
“We will never fully recover, but we will remember it,” Biden said as he signed legislation establishing the Florida National Pulse Memorial, along with the survivors of the shooting and lawmakers working on the measure.
“May … no president should ever sign another monument like this.”