Actor and disability-rights activist Selma Blair joined President Joe Biden at the White House on Monday to commemorate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Blair was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018.
The Associated Press reports that Blair walked with the assistance of a cane and an English Labrador named Scout alongside President Biden to the ceremony on the White House's south lawn. “When she reached the stage, she told Scout, ‘down' and ‘good boy.' As he lay near Biden’s feet, the president started to bend down to pet Scout, but Blair looked over and said, ‘yeah, stay.' That caused Biden to straighten up to full attention.
“‘I feel so powerful all of a sudden,' laughed Blair. Then, indicating a handheld microphone in addition to the one she was using affixed to the podium, she said, ‘I don’t need this. This is for someone else, correct?' ‘It’s for me,' Biden said, prompting Blair to respond, ‘OK, the real guy.'”
Selma Blair Describes Herself as a “Proud Disabled Woman”
Blair achieved fame forr her roles in Legally Blonde, Cruel Intentions, and Hellboy. She appeared in the 2021 documentary Introducing, Selma Blair about living with multiple sclerosis. Blair's autobiography, Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up, dropped a year later.
On Monday at the White House, Blair described herself as a “proud disabled woman.” She continued, “Although I’d had symptoms since the age of 7, it took a lifetime of self-advocacy to finally lead me to a diagnosis at age 46, after living most of my life in pain and self-doubt.” Blair said that activist Judy Heumann — who helped fight for the passage of legislation to protect disabled people and who died in March at the age of 75 — “taught me my worth. History shows it’s often not the people in power, but the power of the people that move the country forward.”
The Associated Press reports, “The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by federal agencies, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prevents discrimination against disabled people on everything from employment to parking to voting.”
October is also National Disability Employment Awareness Month. “These laws are a source of opportunity, meaningful inclusion, participation, respect, and, as my dad would say, the most important of all, dignity,” said Biden. “Be treated with dignity. Ensuring that the American dream is for all of us, not just for some of us.”
“The push towards equity continues,” said Blair. “Our laws and policies must reflect that our disabled lives are not of lesser value.”