On May 6, 2012, Vice President Joe Biden declared on NBC's “Meet the Press” that he supported the legalization of same-sex marriage — getting out ahead of his boss, Barack Obama, on one of the most volatile political issues of the day.
The largest national LGBTQ rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign, formally endorsed Biden for president on Wednesday, the eighth anniversary of that event.
“Joe Biden is the leader our community and our country need at this moment,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “His dedication to advancing LGBTQ equality, even when it was unpopular to do so, has pushed our country and our movement forward."
The endorsement itself is no surprise, given the antipathy that most LGBTQ activists have toward Biden’s rival, President Donald Trump. But the timing is a way of highlighting Biden’s bona fides among activists who gratefully remember his 2012 role.
Obama had taken office in 2009 as a self-described fierce advocate for gay rights, yet for much of his first term, he drew flak from activists who viewed him as too cautious and politically expedient. They were frustrated he wouldn’t endorse same-sex marriage — Obama cagily said he was “evolving” on the issue.
That changed swiftly after Biden told “Meet the Press” that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex marriage. Three days later, in a White House interview with ABC News, Obama followed suit.
Biden, a Democrat, subsequently has entrenched himself as a stalwart ally of the LGBTQ rights movement, including periodic appearances at Human Rights Campaign fundraising dinners. He is scheduled to participate in a livestreamed conversation with the organization's president on Wednesday evening.
Since Trump succeeded Obama in 2017, his Republican administration has taken multiple steps to slow or reverse gains by LGBTQ Americans. For example, it has restricted military service by transgender people and argued in a Supreme Court case that the federal civil rights law doesn’t protect LGBTQ people from discrimination at work.
Along with its endorsement of Biden, the Human Rights Campaign is releasing new details about its 2020 election strategy — identifying voters who support LGBTQ rights, then working to maximize their turnout. Texas is a new addition to the list of targeted states, along with Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.