On Oct. 15, both presidential nominees Joe Biden and Donald Trump held separate town halls hosted by ABC and NBC News, respectively, in lieu of a presidential debate. During Biden’s town hall, a mother, whose child is transgender, asked Biden what he will do to protect and reverse Trump’s discriminatory agenda against LGBTQIA+ rights in the USA. While Biden answered that he would change the law and eliminate President Trump’s executive orders that harm the LGBTQIA+ community, the use of his language to refer to transgender people was not entirely correct. However, many have acknowledged that Biden’s answer shows that it was not intentional, as he was insistent that trans rights are important. As I watched how he answered the mother, it made me reflect on what the LGBTQIA+ community is going through under President Trump’s administration, and what the community can hope for under a Biden presidency.
In a video released last month by the Log Cabin Republicans, an organization of LGBTQIA+ conservatives within the Republican party, former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell claimed that President Trump is the most pro-gay president in U.S. history. According to him, President Trump began a campaign in the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the globe. However, Grenell shouldn’t be too modest about this, seeing as when Trump was asked about this campaign, he responded with “I don’t know, uh, which report you’re talking about. We have many reports,” showing that it was more likely Grenell’s idea, who was the U.S. ambassador to Germany at the time, than Trump’s.
Tiffany Trump, President Trump’s youngest daughter, also recently spoke at a “Trump Pride ” rally in Florida, which she co-hosted with Richard Grenell. Tiffany Trump stated at the beginning of her speech that “prior to politics, [President Trump] supported gays, lesbians, the LGBQIA+ community” — and, no, that was not a typo; Tiffany Trump did leave out the T in the LGBTQIA+ acronym. In Trump’s defense, he did become the first president to name an openly gay person (Richard Grenell) to a position in the U.S. Cabinet, but does that mean he completely supports the LGBTQIA+ community? Not really.
Just days after he was sworn into office, any mention of LGBTQIA+ issues was nearly erased from the websites of the White House, the Department of State, and the Department of Labor, provoking outrage from the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups. Later that year, in July, President Trump tweeted that he will ban transgender people from serving in the military due to the “tremendous medical costs and disruption” of having transgender people serve our country at the risk of their own lives. Additionally, he reversed Obama’s transgender student guidance, which helped protect trans students from discrimination in schools.
President Trump has also appointed many anti-LGBTQIA+ judges, the most recent being his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court Justice. Should Barrett be confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice, she may aid in rolling back rights and protections from the LGBTQIA+ community, including health care discrimination protections that Trump already tried to take away earlier this year. Instead, the Trump administration wants to allow health care providers to refuse medical care to LGBTQIA+ people, but if a doctor wants to refuse medical care to someone in need, thereby breaking their oath of doing no harm, then they really should not have become a doctor in the first place. It should not matter who the patient loves, who they are, or what they believe in; these things should have nothing to do with how a doctor treats their patient in the first place. If President Trump ever cared about the LGBTQIA+ community at all, like Grenell and Tiffany Trump said, then he clearly threw that care out the window in order to pander to the far-right Evangelicals.
There are so many more anti-LGBTQIA+ actions that the Trump administration has taken that I could not name them all if I tried. However, former Vice President Joe Biden plans to reverse such actions made by the Trump administration should he win the election in November. His record as Vice President has shown how he has supported the LGBTQIA+ community. In fact, Biden was the first, before even former President Obama, to publicly support same-sex marriage in 2012.
Under the Obama administration, advancements were made for the LGBTQIA+ community towards equality on the federal level; although President Trump has tried his best to repeal them, Biden seems determined to bring them back. On his campaign website, former Vice President Biden states that he will make the “enactment of the Equality Act during his first 100 days as President a top legislative priority” and will, once again, reverse the ban on transgender people joining the military, like it was originally done under Obama’s administration only for Trump reinstate the ban.
It is clear from his plan that, if elected as president, he will reinstate policies aimed at supporting LGBTQIA+ individuals that were taken down by the Trump administration. Additionally, Biden plans to have his administration work on preventing violence against transgender women, especially transgender women of color, and even mentioned how transgender women of color are being murdered during his town hall on ABC. Compared to Trump, Biden’s presidency may bring a more hopeful future for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Of course, there is no denying that Biden has his own controversial history in regards to LGBTQIA+ rights in the past. According to the Washington Post, Biden even voted for a measure which cut federal funds from a school that promoted homosexuality as a positive life style alternative, but also voted for an amendment to the measure which broadened the description to promoting any sexual activity, whether homosexual or heterosexual. He also originally voted for the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defined marriage as being between man and woman, but has clearly changed his views when he later began to support same-sex marriage in 2012, and even officiated a wedding between a same-sex couple in 2017. Joe Biden also voted to pass the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ bill, however, he did vote for an amendment to the bill to allow President Clinton, who wanted to lift the ban on gays serving in the military, to set the policy. Unfortunately, the amendment did not pass, and the bill was set into place until the Obama administration repealed the policy to allow LGBTQIA+ individuals to openly serve in the military.
Between Biden and Trump, presidential nominee Joe Biden has shown willingness to change his views and keep up with a changing world. However, one shouldn’t expect politicians to follow through with every word. While there is no doubt that Biden is more likely to give the LGBTQIA+ community the equal rights they deserve, we can’t expect him to follow through on all his promises and statements. Whoever wins in November, be it Biden or Trump, needs to be reminded that the LGBTQIA+ community does not only exist when it’s convenient for politicians, nor do any other minority groups. We have to keep pushing for equal rights for LGBTQIA+ people from our lawmakers and leaders because LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights, there is nothing political about it. Again, it bears repeating: LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Bill Clark / Congressional Quarterly / ZUMA
Abigail Sanchez has been writing for the Quaker Campus since fall 2019 and is currently the Opinions Editor of the Quaker Campus. She is also a freelance writer and has written for two feminist media platforms. She enjoys writing about political and social issues that affect the country and her community. In her spare time, Abigail likes to listen to music, read books, and write fictional stories.