Stuart Delery, a longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights, will be the first openly LGBTQ person to serve as White House counsel when he assumes the position next month, President Biden announced on Wednesday. Delery current serves as White House deputy counsel.
Delery was appointed acting associate attorney general, the Justice Department’s No. 3 position, in 2012, becoming the highest-ranking LGBTQ official in the department’s history, according to a White House official.
In his seven years at the department, Delery argued against the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred legal recognition of same-sex marriages, and went on to oversee the implementation of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision overturning the law.
Part of an administrative shake-up ahead of the midterms, the appointment is also one of a number of elevations of LGBTQ people to high-profile roles in the Biden administration. In early May, Bidennamed Karine Jean-Pierre as White House press secretary, making her the first openly gay person appointed to the position.
The administration also tapped Admiral Rachel Levine for assistant health secretary. After her confirmation in March 2021, Levine became the first openly transgender person confirmed by the Senate to a federal post.
Dana Remus, who previously held the post, was key to confirming Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, as well as appointing scores of lower court judges from all sorts of backgrounds.
Don McGahn, who served in the role in the Trump White House, made history at the time by filling appellate court seats at record pace. His efforts were crucial to the confirmations of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
Delery graduated from Yale Law School and clerked for Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Byron White, according to a White House official. He lives in Washington with his husband and two children.
Approximately 5 percent of young adults in the U.S. identify as transgender or nonbinary, and an increasing number say they know someone who is trans, according to data released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.
Adults younger than 30 are more likely than older Americans to say their gender differs from their sex assigned at birth. The findings estimate that the total number of adults who identify as transgender or nonbinary (meaning they identify as neither exclusively male nor female) in the U.S. is 1.6 percent.
The new data, which was weighted to be representative of the entire U.S. adult population, comes from an online survey panel from mid-May of 10,188 randomly sampled people. The findings are part of a broader survey that will be released some point this summer about the general public’s “attitudes about gender identity and issues related to people who are transgender or nonbinary,” the report states.
Since 2017, the number of adults who say they know a trans person has been on a slight but steady increase, rising from 37 percent that year to 42 percent in 2021, and 44 percent this year. Although that number decreases as adults get older, a third of those 65 and older in the survey still said they know a transgender person.
More people know transgender people as friends than as co-workers or family members, according to the findings. A little over a quarter of adults said they have a friend who is trans, with roughly 1 in 10 having a trans co-worker or family member.
The survey also found 1 in 5 U.S. adults said they personally know a nonbinary person. A similar Pew survey from last year found an increase — from 18 percent in 2018 to 26 percent in 2021 — in the number of Americans who said they knew someone who preferred using gender-neutral pronouns.
The survey’s estimate of the percentage of trans and nonbinary people in the U.S. is notable because that figure has been historically difficult to gauge, as the Census Bureau has dragged its feet on updating its questions to be more inclusive. In 2016, researchsponsored by the Department of Labor uncovered obstacles to the feasibility of adding questions about sexual orientation and gender identity to the current population survey, though the Census Bureau took the historic step last year of adding those questions to its household pulse survey, which measures the impact of the pandemic on families.
A 2021 estimate from UCLA Law’s Williams Institute estimated the number of nonbinary adults in the U.S. to be 1.2 million, and a 2016 report from the institute placed the number of transgender adults in the U.S. at 1.4 million.
Results from an Ipsos global survey released last year, which drew on data from 19,000 people in 27 countries, found 4 percent of young adult respondents identified as as transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, gender-fluid or “in another way.”
In addition, the Pew researchers conducted six focus groups in March with 27 trans and nonbinary people of different ages and racial identities to discuss a range of topics, from access to gender-affirming care to social policy. Those discussions, which were not intended to be statistically representative of the entire population in the U.S., showed that historic challenges — including employment discrimination, bias and violence — appear to persist.
Some participants said deciding whether to reveal their gender identities to other people can be a “constant calculation.” Many participants talked about hesitation in discussing their trans or nonbinary identities in work settings, for some because of a perceived lack of professionalism.
They also discussed financial barriers to medical treatments such as hormone therapy and surgery, with some leaning on “underground networks” for help. Some also described feeling a lack of connection with the larger LGBTQ community, while others felt more accepted.
The findings come amid a record surge in anti-LGBTQ legislation, particularly targeting the rights of trans people at the state level, with the Human Rights Campaign estimating that more than 320 anti-LGBTQ bills have been proposed in state legislatures so far this year.
Many of the participants said they did not become more certain of their gender identities until “well into adulthood.” A middle-aged trans man described not knowing “what trans was” until getting to college — “that was when I had a word for myself for the first time,” the participant said.
Many participants cited young people as a reason for optimism.
“They understand almost intrinsically so much more about these things than I feel like my generation did,” a nonbinary participant in their mid-30s said. “They give me so much hope for the future.”
The Defense Department has officially ended a 1980s-era policy that restricted HIV-positive service members from deploying overseas and being promoted into leadership and management positions.
The updated guidance officially took effect Monday, according to a memo addressed to military leadership from the office of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. A judge struck down the decades-old policy in early April.
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema of Eastern Virginia found that the Pentagon’s classification of HIV as a chronic condition did not reflect modern scientific understandings of the virus.
In one of two orders, Brinkema banned the Pentagon from “separating or discharging” asymptomatic HIV-positive service members with undetectable viral loads solely because they have HIV.
The two cases involved three men who sued the military for discrimination based on their HIV statuses. One of the plaintiffs, Army National Guard Sgt. Nick Harrison, who was denied a promotion because of his HIV status, called the Pentagon’s reversal a “generally positive move,” but he said it came only after advocates were forced to resort to “kicking and screaming” in the court system.
“I would like to see them go further,” he said. “At this point, the decision is just basically doing what the judge told them to do. So there’s a lot more space for them to do more.”
Kara Ingelhart, a senior attorney at Lambda Legal, which represented the plaintiffs, said the move “makes perfect sense from a science-medical stigma standpoint but also a policy standpoint.”
“The fact that the military, [which] is the largest employer in the world, not just the country, will no longer be able to treat, categorically, the service members living with HIV differently from others, it’s huge,” she said.
Since the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 passed, no employer other than the U.S. military has been legally permitted to discriminate against potential employees because they have HIV. But as noted in the memo Monday, the policy amendment does not change current Pentagon policy denying those with HIV from being able to enlist in the military.
According to the memo, current service members who display “laboratory evidence” of HIV infection will continue to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, including access to “appropriate treatment” and medical evaluations of “fitness for continued service in the same manner as a Service member with other chronic or progressive illnesses.”
They will not, however, be discharged solely based on their HIV statuses. Military leaders will convene a working group to “develop proposed standards” for case-by-case evaluations, which will consider how long service members must display undetectable viral loads and be symptom-free, the memo says.
The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, has long called for the policy reversal, which it listed among 85 recommendations it sent to the incoming Biden administration in November 2020.
“Research has shown for years now that antiretroviral therapy is highly effective in shrinking the risk of HIV transmission to essentially zero,” David Stacy, the campaign’s government affairs director, said in a news release. “To maintain a discriminatory policy against service members living with HIV without the backing of medical evidence was unsustainable, and we’re glad to see our military leaders recognize that.”
Stacy added that the campaign will continue to “push for the same policy to be applied to those who want to enlist.”
“This week’s announcement was a good first step, but as long as some people are still being discriminated against for no good reason, there’s still work to be done,” he said.