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President Joe Biden is encouraging Congress to pass the Equality Act, saying it will ensure "long overdue" civil rights protections for LGBTQI+ Americans.
In a proclamation recognizing Pride Month on Tuesday, Biden said LGBTQI+ people have been under "relentless attack" in the United States.
"Members of the LGBTQI+ community — especially people of color and trans people — continue to face discrimination and cruel, persistent efforts to undermine their human rights," he wrote. "An onslaught of dangerous anti-LGBTQI+ legislation has been introduced and passed in States across the country, targeting transgender children and their parents and interfering with their access to health care."
"These unconscionable attacks have left countless LGBTQI+ families in fear and pain," he continued. "All of this compounded has been especially difficult on LGBTQI+ youth, 45 percent of whom seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year — a devastating reality that our Nation must work urgently to address."
Biden also reminded the LGBTQI+ community that they are "loved and cherished." He also reiterated his support for transgender youth, which he spoke about in his State of the Union Address in March.
"I will always have your back as your President so that you can be yourself and reach your God-given potential," he shared. "Today and every day, my Administration stands with every LGBTQI+ American in the ongoing struggle against intolerance, discrimination, and injustice."
"We condemn the dangerous State laws and bills that target LGBTQI+ youth," he continued. "And we remain steadfast in our commitment to helping LGBTQI+ people in America and around the world live free from violence."
In March, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed controversial legislation that opponents have denounced as the "Don't Say Gay" law. The "Parental Rights in Education" bill is set to take effect in July. The measure blocks certain LGBTQ topics in the third grade or younger or "in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards."
During the press conference for the bill signing, DeSantis argued that "we will continue to recognize that in the state of Florida, parents have a fundamental role in the education, health care, and well-being of their children. We will not move from that."
This year, there have been nearly 240 bills proposed that would limit the rights of LGBTQI+ Americans as of March. Nearly half of the legislation targets transgender people specifically, according to NBC News.
In the proclamation, the president added there is "more work to be done" to be done to protect the rights of LGBTQI+ Americans.
"I continue to call on the Congress to pass the Equality Act, which will enshrine long overdue civil rights protections and build a better future for all LGBTQI+ Americans," he wrote.
He continued, "We must also fight for LGBTQI+ seniors so that they can age with dignity. And we must confront the disproportionate levels of poverty, homelessness, and unemployment in the LGBTQI+ community."
Biden concluded the proclamation by honoring LGBTQI+ people ahead of Pride Month, which is celebrated annually in June.
"We reaffirm our belief that LGBTQI+ rights are human rights," he shared. "And we recommit to delivering protections, safety, and equality to LGBTQI+ families so that everyone can realize the full promise of America."
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Earlier this month, a statement by Biden spoke out about the "rising hate and violence" against the LGBTQI+ community.
On International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the president said "there has been much progress" since May 17, 1990, when the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.
"But we continue to witness disturbing setbacks and rising hate and violence targeting LGBTQI+ people in the United States and around the world," he said. "This is wrong."