Washington, D.C. — In a historic first, President Joe Biden used the first moments of his administration to take important steps to protect millions of LGBTQ Americans from discrimination and advance equity for LGBTQ people in all areas of life.
Last summer, in a landmark ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, the U.S. Supreme Court extended federal protections for LGBTQ Americans, ensuring that they could not be fired on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. On Wednesday, hours after he was sworn in, President Biden signed an executive order that builds upon the Bostock ruling, clarifying that the Supreme Court’s decision applies to other sex discrimination laws and directing federal agencies to work with the attorney general to ensure they are fully implementing statutes that ban sex discrimination to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. President Biden’s executive order on advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities also recognizes the ways that discrimination exacerbates existing inequities for LGBTQ people and explicitly includes the community in its directive to the entire government to address those barriers to equal opportunity.
Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president for External Affairs at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement in response to Wednesday’s signing:
For the past four years, LGBTQ Americans were forced to hold their collective breath every time the previous administration stripped away their rights and protections bit by bit, hoping their lives and livelihoods wouldn’t be completely upended. President Biden’s swift action to expand and fortify those same rights and protections on the day of his inauguration ensured that they wouldn’t have to hold their breath one minute longer.
This executive action will not only undo four years of the government providing a license to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans but will ensure LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination in key areas of life and that the federal government is actively working to dismantle barriers to opportunity for LGBTQ people. But there still remains important work to be done. Congress must pass the Equality Act to ensure that all individuals receive the full measure of equality guaranteed to them under the Constitution—and that the rights of LGBTQ Americans are not left up to the whims of the person who sits in the Oval Office.
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