Biden's big Pride party postponed due to wildfire smoke

Biden's big Pride party postponed due to wildfire smoke


Biden's big Pride party postponed due to wildfire smoke

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden's White House Pride Month celebration, expected to be the largest in history, will be postponed from Thursday evening until Saturday, officials said, as Washington is enveloped in a cloud of smoke from Canadian wildfires.

"Today’s Pride event on the White House South Lawn will be postponed until Saturday based on the projected air quality in the region," the White House said in a statement.

The party, which is expected to include thousands of guests on the White House's South Lawn, is a deliberate contrast to a cascade of Republican legislation and other attacks targeting LGBTQ+ people, Biden officials have said.

Forest fires continued to burn across Canada on Thursday as the country endured its worst-ever start to wildfire season, sending a smoky haze billowing across U.S. cities and grounding flights.

Biden, a Democrat, planned an evening celebration of LGBTQ+ families featuring singer Betty Who and Baltimore DJ Queen HD.

He was also expected to announce new measures Thursday to help schools and LGBTQ kids navigate book bans, community centers fight threats, and transgender youth access better care, domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden said.

It wasn't immediately clear whether those announcements would be postponed as well.

"This year we're seeing a disturbing surge in violent threats against LGBTQ community organizations," Tanden told reporters on a conference call Wednesday evening. "In too many parts of our country, LGBTQ Americans are being targeted for who they are, and that, simply put, is discrimination."


Republican-led states have signed a flurry of bills targeting transgender youth. Some states have banned teachers of younger children from discussing gender or sexuality and conservative lawmakers have proposed or passed laws restricting drag performances.

In April, the White House warned that bills targeting LGBTQ kids and gender-affirming care for youth set a dangerous precedent.

The White House will announce a new coordinator in the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights to train schools on how to navigate book bans, the impact they have on LGBTQ kids and how they violate civil rights laws, Tanden said.

The Department of Homeland Security will announce new training for community groups against active shooters and bomb threats; the Department of Justice will expand work with state and local law enforcement to protect the community; and the Department of Health and Human Services will put out a new advisory for mental health care providers supporting transgender kids.

Florida has been at the forefront of restrictions aimed at the LGBTQ community under Governor Ron DeSantis, who says he is protecting children and recently entered the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination to challenge Biden.


Biden's own views on gay rights have evolved over his decades in public life. A watershed moment was his endorsement of same-sex marriage in 2012 as vice president, which pushed then-President Barack Obama to express his support for gay marriage a few days later.

As president, Biden has overturned a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, issued a new order to stop conversion therapy and signed the Respect for Marriage Act, which federally recognizes same-sex marriages, into law.

American support for same-sex marriage has doubled since the late 1990s to more than 70%, Gallup polls show, and the percentage of people who identify as LGBTQ has doubled in the past decade to over 7%.

On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBTQ advocacy organization in the United States, declared its first national state of emergency, citing the proliferation of anti-LGBTQ legislation in statehouses across the country.

More than 70 bills HRC considers anti-LGBTQ were passed in statehouses this legislative session, double last year's previous record and over 500 were introduced.