(CTN News) – In a powerful address to leading LGBTQ advocates, policymakers, and celebrities, Vice President Kamala Harris vehemently criticized Republican lawmakers responsible for the surge in anti-LGBTQ state bills across the United States.
Speaking at an LGBTQ Pride event held at her residence in Washington, Kamala Harris emphasized that progress should be measured by the expansion, rather than the restriction, of rights.
Highlighting the current challenges faced by the LGBTQ community, Harris expressed her determination to confront the “so-called leaders” and extremists attempting to regress society. She emphasized that these efforts to curtail LGBTQ rights would not be tolerated under her watch.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, this year alone, over 490 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures, with 77 becoming law.
These laws have sought to limit education on LGBTQ issues, restrict drag performances, and ban transition-related healthcare for minors. While some of these laws have been deemed unconstitutional in court, many remain in effect.
Kamala Harris specifically targeted Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits teaching sexual orientation and gender identity in public and charter schools from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. She stressed that fundamental principles rooted in freedom and equality were at stake, urging everyone to fight for what is right.
Kamala Harris’s remarks coincided with an alarming increase in threats and violent attacks targeting LGBTQ Americans. A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League and GLAAD highlighted over 350 incidents of anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism over 11 months.
Additionally, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue reported more than 200 protests, threats, and acts of violence against drag events and performers from June 2022 to May 2023.
Biden Administration’s Efforts to Protect LGBTQ Americans
To counter these challenges, the Biden administration has taken several measures. President Joe Biden signed an executive order during Pride Month last year, directing federal agencies to enhance access to transition-related care and promote LGBTQ inclusivity in schools.
The administration also worked towards codifying federal protections for same-sex marriages and consistently called on Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans at the federal level.
Among the attendees at the Pride event was White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the first openly gay person to serve as a presidential spokesperson.
Jean-Pierre acknowledged the progress made by the LGBTQ community but stressed the need for continued efforts. She assured transgender youth they are supported and affirmed that the administration would fight for their rights.
Sasha Colby, the winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and emcee of the event, expressed her support for transgender youth, emphasizing that their identity is their power and courage.
Dr. Rachel Levine, the country’s most senior transgender official, shared a hopeful outlook, believing that this Pride Month marks an inflection point, filled with optimism for the future.
The Pride event occurred just days after Vice President Kamala Harris visited the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City, commemorating LGBTQ Pride Month.
As she concluded her speech, Kamala Harris quoted civil rights leader Coretta Scott King, stating that the fight for civil rights must be passed down through each generation. She proclaimed that Pride is a form of patriotism, reinforcing the significance of celebrating and protecting LGBTQ rights.