Biden says protecting LGBTQ people is a 'top' priority in his first 100 days

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Biden outlined several steps he would take to advance LGBTQ rights as president in a new interview.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said this week that he would advocate for LGBTQ equality in his first 100 days in office, if elected president.

In an interview with Philadelphia Gay News published Wednesday, Biden was asked whether he would promise to get the Equality Act passed in his first year in office.

Biden said he would make it a "top" priority.

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"To achieve our vision of equality, I will make enactment of the Equality Act a top legislative priority during my first 100 days a priority that Donald Trump opposes," Biden said.

He added that he would "direct my Cabinet to ensure immediate and full enforcement of the Equality Act across all federal departments and agencies."

Although the Supreme Court ruled in June that LGBTQ people are covered by a federal law that bans employment discrimination on the basis of sex, the Equality Act would ensure that LGBTQ people also have explicit federal protections against discrimination in housing, public accommodations, credit, the jury system, and more.

Currently, there is a patchwork of state nondiscrimination protections across the United States. Only 22 states have concrete bans on discrimination in housing against queer and transgender people.

Biden has made it clear that he supports the legislation, which passed the House in 2019 but hasn't budged in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Throughout his campaign's final few months, Biden has talked openly about advancing LGBTQ equality. In September, he said at a the Human Rights Campaign event that he would work to pass the Equality Act, make it easier for transgender people to get accurate gender markers on identity documents, and reverse Trump administration rules that discriminate against queer and transgender people.

Biden said at the event that he would "win full rights for transgender Americans."

During a televised town hall this month, Biden also said "there should be zero discrimination against transgender people" and again promised to roll back Trump administration policies that harm the transgender community.

At both events, Biden acknowledged recent killings of transgender people.

Dozens of transgender and gender-nonconforming people have died through violent means this year alone, the Human Rights Campaign has said. The victims were mostly Black and Latinx transgender women. It is the highest number of killings since the organization started tracking them in 2013.

Last year, there were at least 25 such deaths.

The Philadelphia Gay News asked Biden this week to discuss in detail about how he would handle that epidemic of violence against transgender people.

Biden said he would try to pass the LGBTQ Essential Data Act, which would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve data collection on deceased LGBTQ people and the FBI to update its reports on crime to add information on violence against them.

Biden also said he would also work to enact the Jabari-Heyer No Hate Act, which would promote better data collection on hate crimes in the United States according to the Human Rights Campaign, the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act, and would "strengthen enforcement" of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, among other measures.

Biden also outlined steps he would take to assist LGBTQ seniors, reduce violence and discrimination against LGBTQ people across the globe, and said he would ensure that LGBTQ people have a voice in his administration.

As Biden has championed policies to advance LGBTQ equality, the Trump administration has only offered "Trump Pride" events, which offer little to no substance on how the Trump administration would improve LGBTQ people's lives.

Over the last few years, the Trump administration has taken steps to leave many homeless transgender people on the streets, block transgender people from obtaining adequate health care, and keep transgender people out of the military. The administration has also worked to broaden the concept of religious freedom protections to allow discrimination against LGBTQ people and seeks to redefine human rights to leave them out of consideration.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.