Kamala Harris became the first sitting vice president to march in a Pride event on Saturday as she and her husband, second gentlemen Douglas Emhoff, surprised the crowd with an appearance at the Capital Pride Walk and Rally in Washington, D.C.
"We need to make sure that our transgender community and our youth are all protected," Harris told marchers of the LGBTQ movement while wearing a pink blazer and a white T-shirt that said, "Love is love."
"We need, still, protections around employment and housing. There is still so much more work to do. And I know we are committed and we understand the importance of this movement and our roles of leadership in this ongoing movement. Happy Pride Day!" she said to cheers.
Republicans and religious groups have widely opposed the bill, arguing the changes could infringe upon the religious beliefs of some citizens.
Opponents have also raised concerns about the bill's potential impact on women's sports. GOP critics argue that allowing transgender youth to participate in girls' sports would be harmful to competition.
The bill passed through the House earlier this year but faces a tough hurdle in the more evenly split Senate – where Harris herself would cast the deciding vote, if necessary. The same bill passed through the House in 2019 but died in the Senate.
"The Equality Act purports to protect people experiencing same-sex attraction or gender discordance from unjust discrimination. Although this is a worthy purpose, the Equality Act does not serve it," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement on its website. "And instead of respecting differences in beliefs about marriage and sexuality, the Equality Act discriminates against people of faith precisely because of those beliefs. In the process, the Equality Act codifies the new ideology of ‘gender’ in federal law, dismissing sexual difference and falsely presenting ‘gender’ as only a social construct."
Harris also commemorated the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2015, that left 49 people dead.
"Five years ago, 49 LGBTQ+ people and allies were enjoying an evening out at Pulse Nightclub," she tweeted. "And then, in an instant, they were gone. Today, we remember those who died and their loved ones—and we recommit to building a world free from gun violence."
Harris has participated in other Pride events in the past, most recently in 2019. All in-person Pride celebrations were canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some conservatives on social media were frustrated that Harris attended the march but still hasn’t visited the U.S.-Mexico border.
"Wtf is Kamala Harris doing at the Pride parade? Shouldn’t she be at the border?" one person wrote.
"GOP: Kamala needs to go to the border right now! VP Kamala Harris: *grabs hubby and heads to the pride parade," another added.
Harris was tapped by President Biden to study the root causes of the southern border crisis earlier this year but has yet to make a visit there. She did travel to Guatemala and Mexico last week, drawing criticism for seeming ill-prepared to answer some questions about the crisis and her reluctance to go to the border region.