On day one of his presidential term, President Biden issued a large number of Executive Orders, memoranda, directives, and letters aimed at taking initial steps to address the COVID-19 pandemic, provide economic relief for struggling Americans, and advance health equity and racial justice. Some highlights that particularly affect our work at Howard Brown to eliminate health disparities for LGBTQ people and advance health equity for all include:
- Executive Order building on Bostock decision: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity as a form of sex discrimination. In accordance with that decision, this Executive Order declares that all laws that prohibit sex discrimination— including, for example, Title VII, Title IX, the Fair Housing Act, and the Immigration and Nationality Act—should be interpreted and applied to also prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. The Order also directs federal agencies to review all existing rules and policies to ensure consistency with the Bostock decision. This is a critical and necessary step towards protecting the rights of all LGBTQ people in America.
- Executive Order on advancing racial equity: President Biden signed an Executive Order that establishes that advancing equity, especially for people of color and other historically underserved and marginalized communities, is the responsibility of the government. This Order directs federal agencies to review their programs and develop action plans to address inequities, launches a new Equitable Data Working Group, directs the Office of Management and Budget to report on strategies for advancing equity in allocating federal funds, and directs agencies to engage with communities that are traditionally underrepresented, underserved, and harmed by federal policies. The Order also rescinds a Trump Executive Order that prohibited trainings on systemic racism and sexism.
- Additional COVID-19 economic relief: President Biden signed an Executive Order directing the White House Coordinator and Deputy Coordinator for COVID-19 Response to lead a government-wide effort to “reduce disparities in the response, care, and treatment of COVID-19, including racial and ethnic disparities.” President Biden also called on federal agencies to extend the federal eviction moratorium and the foreclosure moratorium for federally guaranteed mortgages until at least March 31, 2021. President Biden also called on the Department of Education to extend the student loan repayment pause until at least September 30, 2021.
- Regulatory freeze: The Biden-Harris Administration issued a regulatory freeze memo which pauses new regulations from taking effect before the Administration has had an opportunity to thoroughly review the regulations. This should prevent harmful regulations, like the rule finalized by HHS earlier in January that would permit a wide array federally funded service providers to discriminate against LGBTQ people, from ever taking effect.
On Day One, President Biden also issued executive actions regarding climate change, protections for Dreamers, reversing the “Muslim Ban,” and other policy priorities. You can read about the all of the Day One executive actions here.