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Biden pledges LGBTQ support in presidential address, valley activists respond

In President Biden's address to a joint session of Congress this week, he pledged his support for LGBTQ Americans, giving Coachella Valley activists new hope.

The president Wednesday night specifically reached out to transgender people, saying that he's standing by them at a time when they face a barrage of attacks.

"To all transgender Americans watching at home – especially young people, who are so brave – I want you to know your president has your back," Biden said.

Palm Springs council member Lisa Middleton said Biden affirmed his LGBTQ support that dates back for years. "We all remember that it was Vice President Biden who first spoke up publicly and endorsed marriage equality," she said.

Trans advocates say the president's comments are critically important for young trans people to hear, as Republican-controlled legislatures around the country rush to impose restrictions.

So far this year, lawmakers in a variety of states are considering, or have already passed, numerous bills targeting transgender youth on issues from medical care to participation in school sports.

"They're not picking on people like me; they're picking on transgender children," Middleton said.

At the Transgender Health & Wellness Center in Palm Springs, CEO Thomi Clinton is contrasting Biden's comments to the previous presidential administration. "It is a breath of fresh air to have such hope," she said.

As the president urged Congress to pass the Equality Act, landmark legislation expanding federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, Clinton said she sees the progress of her decades of activism on the issue.

"It's great to see, at least in my lifetime, that the next generations that are coming up will not face the same struggles as we did," Clinton said. "Our hard work and the seeds that we've planted have grown into really nice trees."

Local activists are now looking toward what the president does next.

"We are going to take him at his word that he has the back of those children that are trying to lead a full and authentic life," Middleton said.

Biden previously pledged to sign the Equality Act into law in his first 100 days in office. Thursday marked that milestone, meaning he will not be able to keep that promise.

The House passed the legislation in 2019, but it stalled in the then Republican-controlled Senate.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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