Remarks by Vice President Harris Before a Listening Session on Pride Month
Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
4:07 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, greetings to you, great leaders. I’m really looking forward to our conversation. Obviously, this is Pride Month, but this is a conversation that should happen every day of the week, all year round. And it is a conversation we will continue to have every day of the week, all year round.
So I want to thank you and welcome you for being here. My pronouns are “she” and “her.” And you, as community activists — you know, you all have your eyes and ears on the ground. As you know, I have been working on the issues of equality, of fairness, justice for a very long time. I am a longstanding ally of the community. And there is still so much work to be done.
And so, I’ve asked you to join me at this table in the Ceremonial Office of the Office of Vice President of the United States so I can hear from you. And this is one of many conversations that we will have.
But as we look at this movement, we’ve come a long way, but there’s still so much work to be done. We know that we have the Equality Act that we need to get passed. We know the issue, in terms of the experiences our transgender youth are having around the country. We know — and I could go on and on down the list — that we still don’t have full rights when it comes to employment, housing, things of that nature.
So there’s a lot of work to be done. And the President and I are very committed to always standing as allies, but as part of this movement. And that is why, you probably know, from the very earliest days of our administration, the President signed executive orders establishing exactly where we stand and also where we are prepared to stand in terms of action as it relates to equality, as it relates to fairness.
So we’ll get into the specifics. But the work that I’ve done — I mean, it goes back to when I was the district attorney of San Francisco and I established the Hate Crimes Unit and then established, in our Victim Services Division, a particular subdivision that was focused on LGBTQ survivors — understanding that we wanted to do that in a way that no one would be treated without respect and dignity or — and with judgment, that no one would be treated badly.
As you probably know, when I was district attorney of San Francisco, I created and then hosted the first trans panic defense training, which was to train prosecutors around the country on how to defeat the trans panic defense. It was born out of a tragic case of Gwen Araujo, but cases — Matthew Shepard — we know around the country. And so that is some of the work.
I was very honored to be asked, when I was Attorney General — after I refused to defend Proposition 8 — to perform the first marriage, which — which I did at San Francisco City Hall. It was a beautiful day. And — and I could go on and on.
But I say all that to say that this work is about a continuum. You all are on the ground doing it. We’ve had great celebrations, and we also know the struggle that so many are still facing.
And so that’s why I’ve asked you to be here, including that, this year alone, there are 250 anti-LGBTQ bills around the country, and — including prohibiting transgender youth from receiving medical care and participating in sports, the prohibition on transgender people being able to access a restroom, voter rights, in addition to nearly 400 anti-voter bills that are popping up in various states in our country. Many of them would also undermine the ability of LGBTQ people of color, people with disabilities of meaningful access to voting and to the polls.
And when we think about the issues that are at play when we actually exercise that right, we know that there are many. And to prevent or to inhibit access in a meaningful way can have a huge impact on the outcome of the decisions that are being made when we go to the ballot.
Our administration — not only did the President sign the executive order, but, as an expression of the action that we have taken and are going to take continuously, within a week, the President repealed the ban on transgender people serving in our military, as you all know.
Our Education Department has extended protections to transgender youth, undoing some of the unfair, to say the least, procedures and policy perspectives of the last head of the Department of Education.
Our Veterans Affairs Department will now cover gender confirmation surgeries.
And we will continue to call on the Senate to pass the Equality Act.
So, this was just some of the work that we have done, and there’s no doubt that there is so much more to do.
But again, I welcome you all. I look forward to our discussion. I thank you for your leadership. I thank you for your courage.
You are the voices of so many who probably have never walked into this room and, over the course of time, probably weren’t thought to be invited into this room. But this is an important conversation that we’re going to have today, as one of many conversations we have as we fight for equality and fairness for all people.
So, with that, I thank you all for being here. Thank you.
4:14 P.M. EDT