Joe Biden on Thursday doubled down on his commitment to LGBTQ rights, including his support for the Equality Act, in a message to the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBTQ rights group.
Speaking in advance of the group’s Unite for Equality Live virtual event, the former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee said America is at a turning point: “This election is going to determine our future for a very long time.”
Pointing to a litany of crises — the pandemic, economic decline, climate change, wildfires, threats to LGBTQ equality — Biden said the common denominator is President Donald Trump.
“A president who makes things worse not better. Who brings chaos not order. Who sees violence and only fans the flames,” he said in a recorded three-minute speech.
“The White House should never be a source of opposition or fear or oppression,” he added. “It should be a source of hope, of moral courage and of unification.”
Accusing Trump of trying to roll back protections for the LGBTQ community, Biden promised to be a staunch ally.
“You deserve a partner in the White House to fight with conviction and win the battles ahead,” he said. “Together we’ll pass the Equality Act, protect LGBTQ youth, expand access to health care, support LGBTQ workers, win full rights for transgender Americans, recommit to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by 2025, advance LGBT rights around the globe, not just at home.”
Biden has made LGBTQ rights a significant part of his presidential campaign from the beginning.
Last year, he promised that the Equality Act, which adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected characteristics in numerous areas, would be a top legislative priority in his first 100 days in office.
“It will be the first thing I ask to be done,” he told attendees at an HRC gala in Columbus, Ohio.
His campaign’s LGBTQ platform includes reinstating protections for LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness, stopping what the HRC calls an "epidemic" of violence against transgender women of color, and ending broad exemptions for anti-discrimination laws.
This week, Biden acknowledged the ninth anniversary of the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and promised to lift the current ban on transgender service members in the armed forces
“Duty, honor, country — those are the values that drive our service members,” Biden said in a statement to LGBTQ Nation. “And if I have the privilege of serving as the next commander in chief, I will ensure that our American heroes know I will have their back and honor their sacrifice — always, no matter who they are or who they love.”
“Vice President Joe Biden is the leader our community and our country need at this moment,” HRC President Alphonso David said at the time. “His dedication to advancing LGBTQ equality, even when it was unpopular to do so, has pushed our country and our movement forward.”
David said the stakes in the upcoming election couldn’t be higher.
“Our democracy is at stake — whether we’ll be living in a democracy or a totalitarian regime,” he told NBC News. “For LGBT people that means our very lives are at stake. We could be functionally erased.”
In his criticism of Trump, David cited a number of the administration’s policies that have sought to impede LGBTQ rights, including its transgender military ban, its attempt to roll back trans health care protections and its support for allowing child welfare agencies to reject same-sex prospective parents.
“HRC endorsed Joe Biden because he has a long record of support for the LGBT community, but he also affords us the dignity we deserve,” David said. “He engages people like they’re human beings.”
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer voters have historically been a reliably Democratic voting bloc. In the 2016 presidential election, 78 percent of LGBTQ voters reported backing Hillary Clinton, while just 14 percent said they supported Trump, according to exit polls. And in 2018, exit polls found 82 percent of LGBTQ voters backed their congressional districts’ Democratic candidates.