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Human Rights Campaign endorses Joe Biden for president

Endorsement comes on anniversary of former VP's statements in favor of marriage equality

joe biden, lgbtq, equality, plan

Former Vice President Joe Biden — Photo: Phil Roeder / Flickr

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, has officially endorsed former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s 2020 bid for the White House.

The Human Rights Campaign’s board of directors, comprised of 26 community leaders from across the United States, unanimously voted to endorse Biden for the presidency on May 6, the eight-year anniversary of when the former Vice President came out publicly in favor of marriage equality during an interview with Meet the Press. That interview was credited with moving the needle by convincing then-President Barack Obama to embrace marriage equality amid his 2012 re-election bid.

“Vice President 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.”

To coincide with its endorsement, the Human Rights Campaign released two new videos highlighting the reasons or issues fueling its decision. Among those reasons were Biden’s longstanding support for strengthening hate crime laws to protect LGBTQ people; his vocal support for marriage equality at a time when it wasn’t politically convenient; and his support for various types of nondiscrimination legislation, from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the ’90s and 2000s, to the Equality Act, a comprehensive LGBTQ civil rights bill that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last year but has since stalled in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.

HRC’s other reasons for supporting Biden included his opposition to two separate attempts to introduce constitutional amendments that would have banned same-sex marriage, his support for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, the reauthorization of PEPFAR, a government initiative to increase funding and set targets for the treatment, care, and prevention of HIV/AIDS across the globe, and his support for repealing a ban on visas for people who are HIV-positive.

The former vice president is also credited with fighting for the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning LGB service members from the U.S. military, and the lifting of the ban on transgender service personnel — something that was reversed when President Trump introduced his own version of a ban.

HRC also claimed that Biden — who has previously called transgender rights the “civil rights issue of our time” and has spoken out against reports of violent attacks or murders of transgender women of color — has adopted an LGBTQ platform that is the “most comprehensive LGBTQ equality plan by a presumptive presidential nominee in our nation’s history.”

David later went on MSNBC’s Morning Joe to defend the organization’s endorsement, telling hosts Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist that Biden’s promises on LGBTQ rights stand in direct contrast to the policies of President Donald Trump. 

“We have, in Joe Biden, someone who is a fighter for equality, who will protect marginalized communities,” he said.

David has also vowed to mobilize HRC’s more than 3 million members, who will “work day and night” to encourage approximately 57 million so-called “equality voters” — those for whom a candidate’s positions on LGBTQ issues play a significant role in whether to support that candidate — to head to the polls in the upcoming November election.

“This November, the stakes could not be higher. Far too many LGBTQ people, and particularly those who are most vulnerable, face discrimination, intimidation, and violence simply because of who they are who they love,” David said in a statement. “But rather than have our backs, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have spent the last three-and-a-half years rolling back and rescinding protections for LGBTQ people. Joe Biden will be a president who stands up for all of us.”

Alphonso David — Photo: Todd Franson

HRC has previously enjoyed success through its investments in various states to mobilize “equality voters” with the intent of electing pro-LGBTQ lawmakers who can push policies and laws that make LGBTQ people’s lives better. In 2018, the organization placed full-time staff in six battleground states to engage voters and recruited thousands of volunteers to carry out get-out-the-vote efforts, successfully electing pro-equality candidates in six of six U.S. Senate races and four of five gubernatorial races where it endorsed a candidate.

Ultimately, the organization claims it was able to boost turnout among “equality voters” to 56% in the 2018 midterms, an increase from the 36% rate among the same group of people in the previous midterms, in 2014.

As November approaches, HRC is mobilizing staff and volunteers in seven key states: Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. The organization estimates that there are 3.4 million equality voters at risk of not turning out this year who could help determine the outcome of this year’s election.

Notably, the addition of Texas — which many political observers believe still leans too Republican at the statewide level to be considered a “swing state” — speaks to HRC’s confidence that it can help expand the electoral battlefield this year. One prominent political observer has said that at least nine Republican-held congressional districts in Texas, eight of which have anti-LGBTQ politicians representing them, should be legitimately competitive this year.

“Texans need change, and Vice President Biden will bring it to our state and our country,” HRC Texas State Director Rebecca Marques said in a statement. “For too long, our community has lived in fear: fear of losing our jobs without statewide or national non-discrimination protections, fear for our lives as members of our community are attacked in the streets or fear of the next horribly anti-LGBTQ regulation coming from the Trump-Pence administration.

“Trump has demonized immigrants and stripped people of their access to health care. Joe Biden will help us turn the page to a brighter future,” Marquez added. “Together, we can work toward the  full equality we deserve — in Texas, and across America.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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