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Biden issues executive order to fight LGBTQ discrimination

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WASHINGTON — In one of the first executive orders of the new administration, President Joe Biden announced a policy of preventing and fighting discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Although the majority of executive orders issued Wednesday were focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden’s order on LGBTQ was expansive.

“It is the policy of my Administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and to fully enforce Title VII and other laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation,” Biden said in the order. “It is also the policy of my Administration to address overlapping forms of discrimination.”

This returns the White House’s stance on LGBTQ back to what it was during the Obama Administration. The order says that each federal agency will, as soon as is “practicable,” review all agency actions under Title VII to ensure that they follow this policy. Agencies are to change actions that do not and are to look into what agencies need to do to fully implement the policy.

“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” Biden said in the order. “Adults should be able to earn a living and pursue a vocation knowing that they will not be fired, demoted, or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes.  People should be able to access healthcare and secure a roof over their heads without being subjected to sex discrimination.  All persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

LGBTQ organizations welcomed the change in White House policy.

“We applaud the Biden-Harris administration’s swift action in clarifying that LGBTQ people will be protected from discrimination wherever federal law prohibits discrimination because of sex,” said Sharon McGowan, chief strategy officer and legal director for Lambda Legal. “Today’s executive order sends a clear signal from the administration that starting on day one, they intend to return to the rule of law and are committed to enforcing the civil rights of LGBTQ people and we enthusiastically welcome it.”

“Biden’s Executive Order is the most substantive, wide-ranging executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity ever issued by a United States president,” said Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign president. “Today, millions of Americans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their President and their government believe discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is not only intolerable but illegal.”

The executive order does not reverse the ban on transgender military service members, but Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that an order on that would be coming in the next few days.

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