LGBTQ Rights

Who will better protect LGBTQ rights?

Go straight to The Bottom Line

New York, USA – June 28, 2015: Participants at the Gay Pride Parade in Greenwich Village. Two days after the Supreme Court ruling that the right to same-sex marriage is guaranteed by the Constitution, the New York City Pride Parade which passes by the site where a police raid in 1969 launched the modern Gay Rights Movement carried with it a sense of triumph.

Perhaps you are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and/or Queer yourself; perhaps you have a friend or family member who is, and has been denied equal treatment in some way or experienced discrimination; perhaps you simply have a deep concern and commitment to ensure that all law-abiding Americans enjoy the same liberties and protections under the laws of the land. Which Presidential candidate seems most likely to take up your concerns and proactively try to address them?

We can find clear signals in the statements and policies put forward by both campaigns, and in the actions and words of both candidates. While gay marriage has now become the law of the land, the rights of Gay Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer, and particularly Transgender persons right now are at risk in the healthcare, education and the workplace. Given his track record and extensive policy agenda, Joe Biden is without a doubt the clear winner when it comes to protecting LGBTQ rights.

Who has a stronger past record on LGBT Rights?

Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign stated that he was against gay marriage. Since becoming President, he has been generally supportive of gay/lesbian issues (without actually doing much to add protections), but has been generally hostile to transgender rights, rolling back many of the transgender protections of the Obama-Biden administration.

Joe Biden has a long record of supporting LGBT rights, including coming out in support of gay marriage in May 2012 (while President Obama was still opposed), and is very supportive of gay/lesbian AND transgender rights and issues as outlined below. Moreover in 2009 Obama and Biden championed and signed into law The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. And in 2010 Biden steered the Obama-Biden Administration’s repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy regarding lesbian, gay and bisexual persons serving openly in the military. 

Who is likely to appoint a Supreme Court Justice who will protect LGBTQ rights?

With the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court is U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett.  According to the Washington Post, Judge Barrett is a devout Catholic who is fervently anti-abortion, and having clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia and shares a belief in originalism, that judges should interpret the words of the Constitution as the authors intended when they were written. And reports, “Barrett signed a joint letter in 2015, prior to becoming a judge, affirming “the value of human life from conception to natural death” and asserting that marriage is “founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman” — which raised concerned among LGBTQ groups that she would oppose gay marriage, let alone the rights of marginalized transgender persons.

While Joe Biden has not indicated whom he would nominate to the Supreme Court, other than pledging to nominate an African American female jurist, it is quite plain that he we would nominate a person who would continue to support LGBT and other minority rights, continuing the legacy of Justice Ginsberg. As noted in the New York Times,, “…Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, has so completely identified himself with positions embraced by L.G.B.T.Q. leaders that his history on gay rights has faded into the mist. If he is elected president, said Chad Griffin, a political consultant and longtime gay rights leader, Mr. Biden, the former vice president, will be the ‘most pro-equality president we have ever had.’”

And, also according the New York Times, “Mr. Trump’s administration, by contrast, urged the Supreme Court, unsuccessfully, not to extend the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s protections against workplace discrimination to gay and transgender people.” This month, the administration moved to roll back protections for transgender people against discrimination by doctors, hospitals and health insurance companies. And his administration has repeatedly nominated federal judges with records opposing L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

Who has stronger policies re LGBTQ rights?

Trump claims to support LGBTQ rights, but other than now claiming to support gay marriage and boasting about gay and lesbian appointees, he is vague in his support of lesbian and gay rights, and overtly hostile to the rights of transgender persons.

The Trump campaign website states:

“President Donald J. Trump is the only President to openly support the LGBT community since his first day in office. President Trump stands in solidarity with LGBT citizens by supporting and enacting policies and initiatives that protect the wellbeing and prosperity of all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans. TRUMP PRIDE is a diverse coalition dedicated to re-electing President Trump, the first President to begin his presidency in support of marriage equality. Through his bold plan to end the HIV epidemic to his global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality in the 69 nations where it is illegal, President Trump has proven himself to be a strong advocate for the LGBT community both at home and abroad.” There is no other delineation of LGBTQ rights or issues on the Trump campaign website.

Trump appointee Richard Grenell recently claimed that “Donald Trump is the most pro-gay president in American history.” He and others point out that he has hired L.G.B.T.Q. people across the government and committed to ending H.I.V. transmissions in the country by 2030.  Grenell also claims that Trump “launched a global campaign to decriminalize homosexuality, standing in solidarity with all L.G.B.T. people who live in dozens of counties around the globe that punish, imprison and even execute individuals based on their sexual orientation.”

Trump policies towards the transgender community have been hostile, rolling back many policies for the Obama/Biden administration, including  a ban on transgender service in the military, an effort at the Education Department to block transgender students from choosing which bathroom to use, the rollback of health care protections by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Justice Department’s move to end protections for transgender people in federal prisons.

As also reported by the New York Times, in July of this year “the Department of Housing and Urban Development also proposed allowing homeless shelters to deny transgender people access to single-sex shelters, and this month, the Education Department’s office of civil rights publicly moved to block transgender girls from joining female track teams in Connecticut high schools.”

Biden, on the other hand, has a comprehensive agenda for supporting all LGBTQ+ rights as outlined in The Biden Plan to Advance LGBTQ+ Equality in America and Around the World, on the Biden campaign website, with highlights as follows:

A. Protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination.

  1. Biden will make enactment of the Equality Act during his first 100 days as President a top legislative priority. 
  2. Empower federal agencies to be champions for equality. 
  3. Protect LGBTQ+ individuals from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 
  4. Reaffirm that the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  5. Support transgender and non-binary people in the workforce.
  6. Stop employment discrimination in the federal government.
  7. Treat LGBTQ+ service members and veterans with the respect that they deserve. 
  8. Reverse the transgender military ban.
  9. Reverse Department of Defense policies that perpetuate stigmatization of and discrimination against people living with HIV.
  10. Support LGBTQ+ veterans.
  11. Support the freedom to build and protect families.
  12. End the misuse of broad exemptions to discriminate.
  13. Reinstate protections for LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness.
  14. Support LGBTQ+ seniors.
  15. Affirm one’s gender marker and expand access to accurate identification documents. 
  16. Ensure blood donation procedures are based on science.

B. Support LGBTQ+ youth.

  1. Ensure young LGBTQ+ people are supported and protected in our schools and college campuses by:
  2. Guaranteeing transgender students have access to facilities based on their gender identity.
  3. Protecting LGBTQ+ students from sexual assault, harassment, and bullying. 
  4. Ending school discipline policies that disproportionately impact LGBTQ+ students. 
  5. Work to end suicide among young LGBTQ+ individuals.
  6. Eliminate LGBTQ+ youth homelessness.
  7. Focus on juvenile justice reform and prevention. 
  8. Protect LGBTQ+ Dreamers.

C.  Protect LGBTQ+ individuals from violence and work to end the epidemic of violence against the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color. 

  1. Reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking against LGBTQ+ individuals and support survivors of this violence.
  2. Combat the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color.
  3. Enforce and strengthen the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
  4. End our gun violence epidemic and its impact on the LGBTQ+ community.
  5. End Trump’s detrimental asylum and immigration policies that damage our global standing.
  6. Ensure asylum laws protect people fleeing persecution. 
  7. End prolonged detention and reinvest in a case management program. 
  8. Rescind the un-American travel and refugee bans, also referred to as “Muslim bans.” 
  9. Support LGBTQ+ survivors of violence. 

D. Expand access to high-quality health care for LGBTQ+ individuals.

  1. Guarantee the Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community.
  2. Ensure coverage for comprehensive care for LGBTQ+ Americans.
  3. Update and implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy. 
  4. Decriminalize HIV exposure and transmission laws.
  5. Ban so-called “conversion therapy.”
  6. Restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood. 
  7. Expand mental health and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ individuals.
  8. Improve access to quality health care for LGBTQ+ Americans in rural communities.  

E. Ensure fair treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals in the criminal justice system.

  1. Reduce LGBTQ+ interactions with the criminal justice system.
  2. Increase safety for incarcerated transgender individuals. 

F. Collect data necessary to fully support the LGBTQ+ community.

  1. Ensure questions about sexual orientation and gender identity are included in national surveys and data collection efforts. 
  2. Direct agencies to improve the collection of other demographic information, including race, ethnicity, and disability status. 
  3. Address gaps in data collection and research with respect to LGBTQ+ health.

G. Advance global LGBTQ+ rights and development.

  1. Ensure that human rights are at the center of our engagement with the world.
  2. Advance an inclusive human rights agenda that promotes LGBTQ+ rights by integrating them within a broad human rights agenda. 
  3. Use the full range of our diplomatic tools and foreign assistance to protect and advance human rights and development, and actively combat violence and discrimination.
  4. Combat sexual orientation and gender identity biases. 
  5. Stand with local civil society.
  6. Evaluate programming to ensure that investments are reaching the intended population and making a difference.
  7. Work with Congress to enact legislation – like the GLOBE Act 

The Bottom Line

Many issues will likely factor into your determination of your vote. Based on track record, comprehensiveness of protection, consistency over the years, and depth and specificity of the two candidates’ plans for protection of LGBTQ rights, there is little doubt that on this issue, Biden represents the far better choice.