Former Vice President Joe Biden, hot on the heels of a stunning upset on Super Tuesday which saw him resuscitate his campaign and sweep ten states, has finally unveiled his plan to improve LGBTQ equality.
The core of Biden’s plan is to undo the damage Donald Trump has wreaked on LGBTQ rights by reinstating and building upon protections enacted during President Barack Obama’s administration, which Trump’s administration has worked to reverse or undermine.
In addition, Biden commits to passing the Equality Act — which would enshrine protections for LGBTQ people into federal law — calling it a “top legislative priority” during the first 100 days of his administration.
“Joe Biden believes that every human being should be treated with respect and dignity and be able to live without fear no matter who they are or who they love,” the plan states. “During the Obama-Biden Administration, the United States made historic strides toward LGBTQ+ equality—from the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to Biden’s historic declaration in support of marriage equality on Meet the Press in 2012 to the unprecedented advancement of protections for LGBTQ+ Americans at the federal level.”
Specifically on Trump, the plan states that he and Vice President Mike Pence have “given hate against LGBTQ+ individuals safe harbor and rolled back critical protections for the LGBTQ+ community.”
“Hate and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people started long before Trump and Pence took office,” Biden’s plan states. “Defeating them will not solve the problem, but it is an essential first step in order to resume our march toward equality.”
The plan presents seven key policy areas to focus on, including: protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination; support LGBTQ+ youth; protect LGBTQ+ individuals from violence and work to end the epidemic of violence against the transgender community, particularly transgender women of color; expand access to high-quality health care for LGBTQ+ individuals; ensure fair treatment of LGBTQ+ individuals in the criminal justice system; collect data necessary to fully support the LGBTQ+ community; and advance global LGBTQ+ rights and development.
Biden’s plan offers specific policies and actions in each of these areas, including reversing Trump’s transgender military ban, reinstating protections for homeless LGBTQ people, supporting LGBTQ seniors, changing blood donation rules so they are “based on science,” protecting LGBTQ youth from bullying, and reducing rates of and supporting LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
The former Vice President also proposes a federal ban on conversion therapy, improving mental health and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ people, and increasing safety for incarcerated transgender people, among other issues.
“As President, Biden will stand with the LGBTQ+ community to ensure America finally lives up to the promise on which it was founded: equality for all,” the plan states. “He will provide the moral leadership to champion equal rights for all LGBTQ+ people, fight to ensure our laws and institutions protect and enforce their rights, and advance LGBTQ+ equality globally.”
It’s an extensive, detailed plan, similar to those previously released by Sen. Elizabeth Warren — who suspended her campaign on Thursday — and former Mayor Pete Buttigieg — who endorsed Biden on Monday — both of whom had been credited for their detailed proposals to advance LGBTQ equality.
It also contrasts with Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose plan for LGBTQ equality is notably shorter and less specific than Biden’s, instead touting a few key points and his record on LGBTQ equality.
Polls conducted in 12 of the 14 primary states and territories which voted on Tuesday found that 42% of self-identified LGBTQ voters opted for Sanders. Warren was second with 22%, and Biden third with 19%.
And while Biden is now a strong supporter of LGBTQ rights — including pushing President Obama to come out publicly for marriage equality — his overall record is more nuanced, and at times murky, reflecting an evolution over his more than 40 years in elective office.
Though he now publicly supports marriage equality, in 1996 Biden voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Sanders voted against it.
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