Former Vice President Joe Biden has emerged victorious in the presidential election after three days of excruciating waiting as votes trickled in from a few key battleground states.
A staunch LGBTQ ally who has uplifted LGBTQ people and enshrined equality in his party’s platform, Biden edged out Donald Trump, winning at least 22 states and securing at least 273 electoral votes (as of press time) to become the President-elect.
His victory brought to an end a grueling presidential campaign impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, protests over police violence against Black Americans and systemic racism, and the efforts of the Trump campaign to sow discord and distrust in the election process.
For LGBTQ voters, Biden’s election also ensures forward progress on LGBTQ rights and an undoing of President Donald Trump’s more than 180 attacks on LGBTQ people during the almost four years of his administration.
From banning transgender people from serving in the military and rescinding guidance on preventing anti-transgender discrimination in schools, to arguing that it should be legal to fire LGBTQ people and denying citizenship to the children of same-sex parents, Trump and his cabinet have worked hard to attack LGBTQ rights on multiple fronts.
A Biden presidency promises to correct the course of LGBTQ equality, with the President-elect pledging to pass the Equality Act — which would enshrine nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people into federal law — within the first 100 days of his presidency, as well as prioritize other pro-LGBTQ issues including adoption rights, equality in health care, and trans-inclusive guidance in education.
It’s a matter that will likely be complicated by the Senate remaining in Republican hands, should the GOP win two January special elections for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats. A Republican-led Senate under the control of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would all but ensure any LGBTQ-related legislation never receives a vote. But even if Congress can’t help, Biden can use the power of the Oval Office to issue executive orders that right Trump’s various wrongs.
Unlike Trump, Biden has repeatedly gone out of his way to be an ally to the LGBTQ community, urging for the ultimately successful repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” opposing the ban on transgender military personnel, and speaking out against anti-LGBTQ actions taken by foreign governments, whether it’s the abduction, torture, and imprisonment of gay men in Chechnya, a law in Brunei mandating the death penalty for LGBTQ people, or Poland’s establishment of “LGBT-free” zones.
He was also the first person in the Obama White House to clearly and explicitly state his support for marriage equality for same-sex couples, and is credited with pushing former President Barack Obama to embrace same-sex nuptials.
Alongside Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris makes history as the first woman, first Indian American, and first Black person to be elected to the vice presidency.
Harris also adds to the pro-LGBTQ credentials of the Biden-Harris administration, with a long history of supporting and defending LGBTQ rights, whether supporting pro-LGBTQ legislation in the U.S. Senate, tackling anti-LGBTQ hate crimes as district attorney in San Francisco, or using the power of the California Attorney General’s office to refuse to uphold the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and bring together attorneys general from across the country to help better fight against the use of the gay or trans “panic” defense to minimize punishments for crimes against LGBTQ people.
For LGBTQ people, Biden’s election represents possibly the first time in almost four years that we can collectively feel hope once more.
As our rights have been steadily eroded, the Supreme Court has been stacked with conservative and anti-LGBTQ justices, and violent attacks against transgender women of color have reached epidemic proportions, it has been all too easy to lose sight of the progress enjoyed under the Obama administration, where our community made huge strides towards a more just, more equal status.
With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the White House once again becomes a place friendly to LGBTQ people, where our lives are valued, our rights are protected and advanced, and our youth are encouraged to accept and embrace their true selves.
In two months, when Biden takes the oath of office, and the Trump presidency becomes past tense, the work doesn’t stop. Trump and the Republican Party have worked too hard to sow hate, division, and bigotry — particularly against the transgender community. That will take time to unpick and excise.
But with President Biden and Vice President Harris, that work becomes a hell of a lot easier. And we can finally wake up without worrying what rights have been stripped away by tweet or ruling or order.
It will be a new day for LGBTQ Americans. And after four years of Trump, it can’t come soon enough.
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