President Joe Biden will mark Pride Month on Friday by designating the site of the Pulse Nightclub shooting a national memorial and he’ll name a special envoy for LGBTQ+ rights around the world.
Biden will appoint Jessica Stern to be the U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons at the Department of State, the White House announced on Friday morning.
Stern will focus on making sure U.S. diplomacy promotes and protects the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world. She is the executive director of OutRight Action International, an organization aimed at ensuring human rights for LGBTQ people both domestically and abroad.
President Biden will appoint Jessica Stern to be the U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons at the Department of State
Stern specializes in gender, sexuality and human rights globally. She will be at the White House on Friday for the formal announcement and Pride Month celebrations.
She’s the second person to be named to the role. Her predecessor, Randy Berry, served in the then-new role from its inception in 2015 under former President Barack Obama until 2017. The position was left vacant by former President Donald Trump after Berry stepped down.
In remarks at the White House later on Friday, Biden will denounce state-level anti-LGBTQ+ bills, calling them ‘un-American and legislation disguised as bullying,’ according to a White House official.
Biden on Friday will also sign into law a bill that designates the site of the Pulse Nightclub shooting as the ‘National Pulse Memorial.’
In June 2016, 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded during a mass shooting at the gay nightclub in Orlando. It was the deadliest incident against LGBTQ people in the United States.
Jill Biden, survivors of the shooting, victims’ family members, and members of the Florida Congressional Delegation will be at the White House for the signing.
And, for the first time on Friday, a hallway on the ground floor of the White House will be lit in rainbow colors when the Bidens welcome LGBTQ+ advocates.
Both President Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay Cabinet secretary confirmed by the Senate, will speak.
Dr. Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services who was the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate, will also be in attendance.
President Biden will sign into law a bill that designates the site of the Pulse Nightclub shooting as the ‘National Pulse Memorial’
For the first time on Friday, a hallway on the ground floor of the White House will be lit in rainbow colors as part of Pride Month celebrations – above a Pride Walk in Washington DC on June 12
In his remarks, Biden will push the Senate to pass the Equality Act, according to the White House official. The act provides ‘overdue, explicit civil rights protections’ to members of the LGBTQ community. It has already passed the House.
The White House is making LGBTQ rights a national issue at a time many state legislatures are passing laws that seek to limit rights.
This year is on track to be the worst year for anti-LGBTQ legislation in recent history, according to the Human Rights Campaign, as eight anti-LGBTQ bills have already been signed into law and another ten are already on governors’ desks awaiting signature.
President Biden has contrasted his record on LGBTQ rights with President Trump’s
Biden has championed LGBTQ rights from the start of his presidency – signing an executive order on his first day in office to combat discrimination and rescinding the ban on openly transgender servicemembers from serving in the military.
The White House has noted 14 percent of all presidential appointees in the Biden administration identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.
Biden started off June, known as Pride Month, with a proclamation to mark the occasion while his State Department declared the rainbow-colored Pride Flag could fly on the same pole as the American Flag at US outposts around the world.
The moves signal Biden’s attempt to contrast himself with Trump, who ignored the month and, under his presidency, embassies couldn’t fly the Pride flag.