President Joe Biden said young transgender people are “so brave” as he urged Congress to pass the Equality Act, landmark legislation that would expand federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ people.
“To all the transgender Americans watching at home — especially the young people who are so brave — I want you to know that your president has your back,” Biden said Wednesday night during his first address to Congress.
His comments come as state legislatures around the country are considering a variety of bills targeting transgender youth on issues from medical care to participation in school sports.
Biden previously pledged to sign the Equality Act into law in his first 100 days of office, and he obviously won’t be able to keep that promise with that milestone coming Thursday. The House passed the legislation in 2019, but it stalled in the then Republican-controlled Senate.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, told the Washington Blade this week that conversations were ongoing to get to the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster — a move that would open the door for her party to pass more legislation without Republican support.
“I am hoping to personally be involved in several of those before the recess next week, but they’re still tentative,” Baldwin said.
The Equality Act would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 along with a handful of other laws that collectively ban discrimination in housing, finances, employment, schools, and public places on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
Biden has long been a champion for LGBTQ people and pledged during his campaign to make the legislation and other measures a priority. Last week, the Justice Department filed a “statement of interest” in support of a trans woman who says that she has been repeatedly sexually assaulted in men’s prisons in Georgia.