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Inauguration Day 2021: Welcome Biden-Harris to the White House!

Jan 19, 2021 | Seattle Pride

Given the ugly events over the past weeks, Seattle Pride is hopeful for a peaceful transition of presidential power on January 20.

While the traditional swearing in ceremony and inaugural parade will look quite different for our newly elected President Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, positive change is in the air – and we are optimistic that this new administration will honor promises made during the campaign. So far, signs are hopeful.

In his formal acceptance speech, Biden said that his win came as a result of building an inclusive coalition of supporters of which he was proud and included mention of the transgender community for the first time ever in an acceptance speech by a president-elect. As vice-president in 2012, Biden stood up for the LGBTQIA+ community by endorsing marriage equality even before his then boss, President Obama. As president-elect, Biden has made promises to our community, including passage of an omnibus LGBTQ rights bill, the Equality Act, within his first 100 days in office. This sweeping bill, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last year, but denied by the Senate, extends anti-bias protections including housing, public accommodations and public service sectors in all 50 states.

Not only that, the Biden-Harris team has promised to reverse policies which allow discrimination against LGBTQIA+ community members by health care providers, foster care and adoption agencies, and social service agencies. They plan to reinstate Obama-era guidance directing public schools to allow transgender students to access all facilities, including restrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity. Biden has also promised to ban so-called conversion therapy, and will allocate federal resources to protect transgender people, particularly women of color, from violence. In addition, they will work to see that LGBTQIA+ rights are a priority for U.S. foreign policy.

The Biden-Harris team already includes more members of our community than ever before. Having tapped Pete Buttigieg to be secretary of transportation, Biden has kept his campaign promise of putting an LGBTQIA+ person in his cabinet. Biden’s early staffing appointments have also included two queer women of color on his all-female communications staff, Karine Jean-Pierre and Pili Tobar, and the first gay Latino man to serve as White House social secretary, Carlos Elizondo. Jean-Pierre is the first Black person and first out lesbian to hold a chief of staff role for a vice-presidential nominee. She will be principal deputy press secretary for the Biden administration. Tobar, a veteran of the immigration reform group America’s Voice, will be deputy white house communications director.

The legislative branch of the U.S. government will look far more inclusive heading into 2021. More than 220 LGBTQIA+ candidates won local races. In fact, from Biden’s own home state of Delaware, Sarah McBride became the first trans woman ever elected to be a state senator.

It is our hope that this early phase of LGBTQIA+ inclusion in national governance is just the beginning of a trend toward true diversity and systemic equity across federal, state and local governance.

We wish Joe Biden and Kamala Harris a very joyful Inauguration Day, and best wishes for their continued work heading forward. We will be watching- and holding them and all government leaders - accountable in the name of equity and the spirit of democracy so all voices may have a seat at the table and be heard.