It’s Presidents Day! And yes, we know… The government has not always been supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. For that reason, a lot of LGBTQ+ individuals have reservations about celebrating presidents. Despite that, many presidents have actually been vital to bringing LGBTQ+ issues to the national agenda and in achieving equal rights, especially newly elected President Joe Biden. To remain consistent with the Pride Palace mission to educate the LGBTQ+ community, we choose to focus on the Presidents who changed history by supporting LGBTQ+ rights!
August 18, 1990
At this time, the AIDS epidemic had severely harmed LGBTQ+ communities all across the U.S., and there had been little to no support from the government. Among the thousands of LGBTQ+ individuals affected was Ryan White, an Indiana teenager, contracted AIDS in 1984 through a tainted hemophilia treatment. After being barred from attending school because of his HIV-positive status, Ryan White becomes a well-known activist for AIDS research and anti-discrimination. But his biggest legacy is probably the Ryan White Care Act, a federally funded program for people living with AIDS that President George Bush signed. Besides helping LGBTQ+ communities get medical treatment, who were often discriminated against at hospitals and were denied help, it was a clear sign that the government was here to help the LGBTQ+ community. Not harm them. This was a powerful move, especially by a conservative administration, and it paved the way for other reforms to come.
June 17, 2009
President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum allowing same-sex partners of federal employees to receive certain benefits. While the memorandum did not cover full health coverage, it was a giant step that encouraged many same-sex partners to form a life together.
October 28, 2009
As a lot of us know, the LGBTQ+ community has always faced violence by hate groups, and for a long time, there were no government measures to stop this. It was the horrendous case of Matthew Shepard, who was tortured and murdered near Laramie, Wyoming on October 7, 1998 because of his sexual orientation, that finally made Congress act. Recognizing the need to protect LGBTQ+ communities, Congress passed The Matthew Shepard Act and Obama signed it into law on October 28th, expanding the 1969 U.S. Federal Hate Crime Law. The new law now included crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
February 23, 2011
On this historic date which will remain on the minds of so many, President Obama stated his administration would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which baned the recognition of same-sex marriage. Even though Gay Marriage would not be legalized until much later, the support of the President was a clear sign that it would soon be possible. On June 26, 2015, it finally happened:The legal union of two loving individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, was legalized, and the White House shined the rainbow colors to celebrate.
Biden made a lot of promises to the LGBTQ+ community, which is why Pride Palace endorsed him. And thankfully, he was not lying. In his first week as President, Joe Biden has taken unprecedented progress towards achieving LGBTQ+ equality, and in doing so, improved the lives of the 11 million adult LGBTQ+ individuals and made the nation a better place for the millions of other LGBTQ+ children who just want to be accepted in their society.
The Biden administration issued the most substantive, wide-ranging LGBTQ executive order in U.S. history that implements the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County. The Executive Order will have a real and practical impact on the day-to-day lives of the approximately 11 million LGBTQ adults and millions more LGBTQ youth in the United States. The Human Rights Campaign requested that the Biden administration issue an order to implement the Bostock decision after the Trump administration failed to properly enforce it across federal agencies, choosing instead to argue that LGBTQ people were not protected under federal civil rights laws.
The Biden administration issued a number of executive orders on advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities through the federal government. The executive orders aim to support all marginalized communities including people living with disabilities, religious minorities, members of the LGBTQ community and those living in rural areas.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visited D.C.-based community health center and clinic Whitman-Walker Health, a leading LGBTQ community health center, as one of her first public visits. For decades, Whitman-Walker Health has provided crucial services and support to LGBTQ people and people living with HIV and AIDS.
The Biden administration’s Department of Justice reversed the Trump administration’s last minute attempt to unjustly limit the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County. “The Justice Department has taken its first major step under President Joe Biden to reverse the Trump administration’s resistance to expansion of rights accorded to LGBTQ Americans.”
The Biden administration issued an executive order to reverse the ban on transgender military service. With the executive order, thousands of transgender service members will not be forced to continue hiding their identities while serving in our military.
So unlike many past years, Pride Palace is incredibly proud and excited that there is a reason for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate Presidents Day in 2021. Thank you and we hope you were able to learn the impact that Presidents have had for the LGBTQ+ community. Pride Palace wishes you a happy Presidents Day!!!