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2022-06-15 18:55:03 By : Mr. Joe Zhang

The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20500

MR MUNOZ:  Hey, everybody.  Thank you for joining today’s call to preview the President’s Pride event today and the new executive order that he will be signing.  Ahead of this call, you should have received an embargoed factsheet — until 12:00 p.m.

This call will be attributable to “senior administration officials.”  On today’s call, we have [senior administration official] and [senior administration official].

With that, I will kick it to [senior administration official]. 

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Good morning, everyone.  It’s good to be talking with you.  Again, my name is [senior administration official].  As Kevin said, I’m [redacted] — that includes our work to advance LGBTQI+ equality. 

Today, in celebration of Pride Month, the President will host a White House reception in the East Room.  He’ll be joined by the Vice President, the First Lady, the Second Gentleman, Secretary Buttigieg, Secretary Haaland, and hundreds of LGBTQI+ leaders. 

The President has invited members of Congress, including the leaders of the Equality Caucus; out and proud appointees in his administration; LGBTQI+ state and local elected leaders; and grassroots advocates who have been leading the work in the states to fight back against the onslaught of hateful anti-LGBTQI+ legislation that we’re seeing in the states. 

This year we’ve seen over 300 anti-LGBTQI+ laws introduced in state legislatures, and many of them specifically target transgender children and their parents. 

Most importantly, the President is bringing LGBTQI+ kids and families from across the country who have been personally impacted by these discriminatory bills to the White House — kids from Texas and Florida who have seen their rights under attack, who have had to stand up to their governors and their state lawmakers as they advance discriminatory legislation.

Today, the President will be introduced, in fact, by Javier Gomez, an inspiring 18-year-old Floridian who just graduated from high school and helped to organize the statewide student walkouts over the “Don’t Say Gay” bill that bans teachers from discussing LGBTQI+ people and families. 

These attendees represent the best of America.  They are diverse, passionate advocates who are fighting to ensure that the promise of freedom and equality is made real for all. 

You can expect the President today to celebrate the historic progress of his administration.  For example, issuing a day one executive order to strengthen protections for LGBTQI+ Americans and advancing full equality, ensuring that in healthcare, housing, education, employment, and more areas, that LGBTQI+ people have their rights respected; also reversing the ban on transgender service members; imposing services — I’m sorry, improving services for transgender Americans, including with new “X” gender markers on passports; and appointing a historic member of LGBTQI+ public servants. 

The President is also going to, again, forcefully condemn the discriminatory attacks on the LGBTQI+ children and families that we’re seeing all across the country.  He will talk about how these bills are worsening the mental health crisis that LGBTQI+ youth are facing, putting them at greater risk of suicide. 

President Biden always stands up to bullies.  And that’s what these extreme MAGA laws and policies do — they bully kids.  Hateful, discriminatory laws that target children are out of line with where the American people are.  And President Biden is going to use his executive authority to protect kids and families. 

At today’s event, the President will sign an executive order on advancing equality for LGBTQI+ individuals.  That executive order will take historic steps to support LGBTQI+ people, especially children and families.

LGBTQI+ children face stark disparities.  Nearly half of them said that they — nearly half of LGBTQI+ youth said that they seriously considered committing suicide last year.  Nearly 40 percent of all youth experiencing homelessness are LGBTQI+.  One in five LGBTQ- —

MR. MUNOZ:  Just checking.  Sorry, we had some sound challenges.  [Senior administration official], can you — can you hear us? 

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, I can hear you now.

MR. MUNOZ:  All right, we’re back. Thanks, guys.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Did folks hear what I was saying before?  I’m unclear.

MR. MUNOZ:  Yes. 

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah?  We’re good? 

MR. MUNOZ:  So let’s just start where you were.  All right. 

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  All right.  The President’s executive order will protect LGBTQI+ youth from so-called “conversion therapy,” a dangerous and discredited practice that increases the risk of youth suicide and has been condemned by every major medical association.

President Biden specifically is charging HHS with leading an initiative to reduce the risk of youth exposure to this dangerous practice, directing the Secretary of State to promote an end to conversion therapy around the world, and encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to consider whether conversion therapy constitutes an unfair or deceptive act or practice and whether to issue consumer warnings on notices about it.

The President’s executive order will also address the LGBTQI+ youth mental health crisis and help prevent LGBTQI+ suicide by expanding access to suicide prevention resources that meet the needs of LGBTQI+ youth. 

The President’s EO will also launch a new initiative to address the discrimination that children and parents face in the foster care system.  LGBTQI+ children are over represented in the foster care — in foster care.  And LGBTQI+ parents, who play a vital and outsized role in ensuring that children in foster care are adopted by loving families, continue to face barriers and biases as they form a family.

And the President’s executive order will strengthen protections for LGBTQI+ older Americans who face high rates of poverty, discrimination, and isolation.  He is charging HHS with developing a new bill of rights for LGBTQI+ seniors.

The order will also strengthen federal data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity, address LGBTQI+ homelessness and housing insecurity, and protect healthcare access for LGBTQI+ youth and families.

You know, taken together these are important new actions that will improve the health, wellbeing, and safety of countless families across the country.  And they will send a powerful signal from the President of the United States to LGBTQI kids across the country who may be feeling scared and hopeless that their President has their back.

With that, I’ll hand it (inaudible) my colleague Kevin to moderate a few questions.

MR. MUNOZ:  Thank you, everybody, for joining.  We have time for a few questions.

First, let’s go to Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade.

Q    Hey, thanks for hosting this call.  Two questions, really.  The — this executive order seems to be challenging a number of these state laws that are already in place, you know, against LGBTQ youth.  What kind of response are you anticipating from them on this executive order once Biden signs that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We don’t — we don’t know.  I mean, but the focus is not really on what their response will be.  We’re — what we’re focused on is responding to the, frankly, un-American policies that they’re pushing through state legislatures.  They’re going after kids; they’re going after families just because of who they are.

And the President has said repeatedly that he will stand with LGBTQI youth and families and people across the country.  That’s what this executive order is going to do.  It’s going to send that message.  It’s going to direct the full force of the federal government to provide resources and support for families so that while they’re under attack by the state, they know that we’re on their side and we’re providing resources to help them.

MR. MUNOZ:  Thanks, Chris. 

Next, let’s go to Catherine Lucey at the Wall Street Journal.

Q    Hey there.  Thanks for doing the call.  Can you guys go over at all what the cost is of these proposals, these various initiatives and what the funding stream is?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah.  These are actions that the President can take within his existing authority and within the existing budgets of agencies.  So, we are using existing resources to prioritize responding to these anti-LGBT, anti-family state laws.  We’re using existing resources to support families across the country. 

That said, I also want to note that the President’s budget proposal for FY23 includes a number of additional asks for funding to support improved access to healthcare, education, mental healthcare in particular, and a whole host of other resources. 

So the President is really working on multiple fronts here to support LGBT youth and families.  This executive order can go into effect right away.  It does not depend on any additional congressional appropriations.

MR. MUNOZ:  Thanks.  Let’s go to Eugene Daniels at Politico.

Q    Hey there.  Can you guys hear me? 

MR. MUNOZ:  Yup.  Thank you, Eugene.   

Q    Thank you.  Thanks for doing this.  One of the things that I constantly hear from advocates in this space is the — about the Equality Act.  And, you know, they’ve seen how the President pushed and continued to push for Build Back Better at one point, the Infrastructure Law, even voting rights legislation, and they haven’t seen — felt like they’ve seen the exact same push for the Equality Act.  So I guess I’m just curious: Is this going to renew the calls from the President to — for Congress to work on and pass the Equality Act and send it to his desk?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The President is a strong supporter of the Equality Act, and he has not wavered in that.  He continues to call on Congress to pass the Equality Act.  You heard him renew that call during the State of the Union Address — the biggest stage that we have.

You know, any assertion that he hasn’t been full-throated on that is just completely at odds with the fact. 

And the President today will reiterate the need to sign this legislation into law.  He is ready for it.  He wants Congress to send it to his desk so he can sign it into law.

MR. MUNOZ:  All right.  Next, let’s go to Orion Rummler at 19th News.

Q    Thanks so much, Kevin.  Two questions for you all: How would HHS, the Biden administration enforce guidance if federally funded programs cannot offer conversion therapy on this?  And when would HHS be expected to put out or clarify guidance on this?  

And also, I have a question on gender-affirming care.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The executive order directs HHS to use all of its resources, as this is part of a, you know, whole-of-government, full-court press against this discredited and harmful practice of conversion therapy. 

The President and the White House cannot direct the exercise of the enforcement power.  That is up to, you know, teams of lawyers who carefully consider the facts and apply the law to the facts of any particular situation.  And they have to continue to do that work.

We are appropriately resourcing them — again, seeking more funding from Congress to support that (inaudible). 

This executive order does direct them to explore how to beat back this discredited practice of conversion therapy. So, it’s — there’s an important distinction there about the role of the President and the White House and the enforcement power.  In this administration, it’s very important for the enforcement power to be exercised independently by the agencies. MR. MUNOZ:  And, Orion, your second question? Q    Thanks.  Can you all hear me? MR. MUNOZ:  Yep. Q    Thank you.  So, for charging HHS to work with states to promote expanded access to gender-affirming care, how can this care be promoted in states that are actively trying to ban it?  Is — like, what would promoting it do?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, I mean, in states that are — that are trying to ban it or that are, you know, trying to criminalize or promote investigations against families for seeking the support that their children need, the administration is taking — has taken a number of steps. Already put out guid- — we’ve already put out guidance through HHS about civil rights protections and making clear that the denial of medical care based on someone’s gender identity is discriminatory, and have invited the members of the public to file complaints with the Office of Civil Rights.  So, that has already happened.  That is already underway. I think also — so, providing that guidance, providing resources, making clear the state of the law is certainly something that can happen in these states. 

It’s also important to emphasize that some states, you know, like Colorado, for example, are doing the right thing and are expanding access to gender-affirming care. The President’s executive order charges HHS with working with states that want to advance health equity by supporting them in asse- — accessing that care.  So, that’s just an important part of this to not lose sight of. We are seeing a lot of state-level attacks.  And, you know, that’s something we are standing with LGBT families in responding to.  It’s also important to continue to push for expanding care where there are state legislators who are willing and ready partners.

MR. MUNOZ:  All right, a couple more questions.  Let’s go to Sandhya Raman at Roll Call. Q    Hi, thanks for doing this.  So, my question was: Would the executive order include any of the changes to 1557 under HHS that we’ve been expecting?  Or would the final rule for that be completely separate, related to the non-discrimination protections?  And if it’s not connected, would we expect that soon, since they deal with similar topics? SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  This executive order does not direct- — does not include the release of the rule that you’re describing — the 1557 rule.  The administration is working hard on the 1557 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would protect patients from discrimination.  That continues to be a priority. It is a big rule.  You know, and these rules are complicated, and it’s important to get it right.  So I don’t have a timing update for you at this time beyond what we’ve already shared.  But it continues to be a priority for us.

MR. MUNOZ:  All right, last question.  Let’s go to Trudy Ring at The Advocate. Q    Yes, I know this is outside the scope of the executive order, but in states that have enacted anti-LGBTQ policies — like the bans on gender-affirming care or the, you know, investigations — with the lawsuits that have been brought against them, does the administration plan to possibly file statements of interest in those suits?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The administration is already doing this all over the country.  The Justice Department has issued statements of interest, briefs in multiple cases that are brought by plaintiffs challenging these unjust laws.  That work we expect to continue. Again, those decisions about filing briefs and taking legal positions are up to the Justice Department.  Those are, you know — these are enforcement-related issues, so we are not directing that from the White House. 

But I think you can see in the work that has happened to date that it’s a priority, and we’d certainly refer you to the Justice Department for any further questions about their engagement.

MR. MUNOZ:  Thank you, [senior administration official].  And thank you, everybody, for joining.  As a reminder, this call is attributable to “senior administration officials,” and the call and the pre- — and the factsheet are embargoed until 12:00 p.m. — noon. Any questions, let me know.  Thank you, all. 9:56 A.M. EDT 

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The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, DC 20500