"Who do you love? Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love? And that's what people are finding out is what all marriages, at their root, are about."
SUPPORT LGBTQ+ CHILDREN
Throughout his career, Joe Biden has championed equality and inclusion for LGBTQ+ children. Biden knows how important it is for LGBTQ+ children to feel safe, supported, and valued at home and in school. Through policies and public leadership, the Obama-Biden Administration made it a priority to change the culture from one of fear and rejection to one where LGBTQ+ children feel safe, affirmed, accepted, and loved. As private citizens, Joe and Jill Biden continued this work through the Biden Foundation's "As You Are" campaign, which promoted understanding and acceptance among LGBTQ+ children and their families.
Joe Biden, June 1, 2019
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. 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.
But this fight's not over. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have given hate against LGBTQ+ individuals safe harbor and rolled back critical protections for the LGBTQ+ community. By blocking the ability of transgender individuals to openly serve their country, denying LGBTQ+ people access to critical health care, proposing policies allowing federally funded homeless shelters to turn away transgender people and federally funded adoption agencies to reject same sex couples, and failing to address the epidemic of violence against transgender people particularly transgender women of color the Trump-Pence Administration has led a systematic effort to undo the progress President Obama and Vice President Biden made.
Hate and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people started long before Trump and Pence took office. Defeating them will not solve the problem, but it is an essential first step in order to resume our march toward equality.
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. 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. Biden will:
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. Advance global LGBTQ+ rights and development.
PROTECT LGBTQ+ PEOPLE FROM DISCRIMINATION
Half of LGBTQ+ Americans live in states without adequate civil rights protections. They can get married on Sunday and the very next day get fired under state law because of who they are or who they love. LGBTQ+ people still face discrimination in nearly every aspect of their lives, including employment, military service, starting a family, and obtaining a driver's license with their accurate gender marker.
The Equality Act is the best vehicle for ensuring equal rights under the law for LGBTQ+ Americans, and will guarantee that LGBTQ+ individuals are protected under existing civil rights laws. Biden will make enactment of the Equality Act during his first 100 days as President a top legislative priority. Biden will also direct his Cabinet to ensure immediate and full enforcement of the Equality Act across all federal departments and agencies.
In addition to enacting the Equality Act, Biden will take action using his executive authority. He will immediately reverse the discriminatory actions of the Trump-Pence Administration and then go further to end discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals. Biden will:
Empower federal agencies to be champions for equality. Biden will nominate and appoint federal officials and judges who represent the diversity of the American people, including LGBTQ+ people. He will ensure that leaders across the federal agencies are committed to fully enforcing our civil rights laws for LGBTQ+ individuals. And, he'll ensure that we give the agencies charged with enforcing our non-discrimination laws the funds they need to fully pursue this obligation. These agencies include the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.
Protect LGBTQ+ individuals from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Reaffirm that the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2014, the Obama-Biden Department of Justice affirmed that the Civil Rights Act's Title VII prohibition against employment discrimination based on sex applies to discrimination based on gender identity. The EEOC later affirmed that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The Trump-Pence Administration's Department of Justice has reversed this position, arguing that Title VII excludes protections for these groups. Biden will ensure enforcement of Title VII and work to pass the Equality Act to affirm that employment discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is prohibited.
Support transgender and non-binary people in the workforce. Transgender and non-binary Americans face significant discrimination when seeking employment. To address these unique challenges, Biden will ensure that workforce and entrepreneurial training programs and resources funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Small Business Administration focus on and benefit this community. He will also provide incentives for states and local governments to adopt programs that help prepare transgender and non-binary people for the workforce and encourage entrepreneurship.
Stop employment discrimination in the federal government. The federal government should lead by example. Biden will restore full implementation of President Obama's executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors, which Trump has undermined. The Biden Administration will also work with civil rights leaders to develop and institute implicit bias training programs for federal workers and contractors to address discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability. A Biden Administration will make the resulting training materials available to the public so other employers can conduct similar programs.
Treat LGBTQ+ service members and veterans with the respect that they deserve.
Reverse the transgender military ban. In 2010, Biden played a leading role in the Obama-Biden Administration's repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to allow gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members to serve the country they love without hiding their sexual orientation. In June 2016, the Obama-Biden Administration overturned the ban on transgender individuals serving openly, without hiding their gender identity. But Trump reversed this policy, barring transgender patriots from serving openly. This is discriminatory and detrimental to our national security. Every American who is qualified to serve in our military should be able to do so regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and without having to hide who they are. Biden will direct the U.S. Department of Defense to allow transgender service members to serve openly, receive needed medical treatment, and be free from discrimination.
Reverse Department of Defense policies that perpetuate stigmatization of and discrimination against people living with HIV. The Trump-Pence Administration's "Deploy or Get Out" policy, which is used to forcibly discharge members of the military with HIV, was found to be "irrational, inconsistent, and at variance with modern science" by a federal district court. The Fourth Circuit affirmed this decision in January 2020 for "failing to account for current medical literature and expert opinion about current HIV treatment and transmission risks." If the Trump-Pence Administration continues to try to implement the policy, the Biden Administration will rescind it.
Support LGBTQ+ veterans. Biden's plan for veterans calls for addressing the unique needs of LGBTQ+ veterans. As President, he will direct his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to ensure that wraparound services provided under the Supportive Services for Veterans Families program address the unique needs of LGBTQ+ veterans experiencing homelessness. He will direct the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to establish cultural competency training protocols to ensure that providers in VA facilities and in community care settings are equipped to support the needs of LGBTQ+ veterans in the health care setting. And, Biden will instruct the Secretary of Defense to ensure LGBTQ+ veterans discharged due to their sexual orientation or gender identity receive prompt review of applications for discharge upgrades submitted to the Boards for Correction of Military Records.
Support the freedom to build and protect families. On May 6, 2012, in a historic interview on Meet the Press, Biden became the highest-ranking elected U.S. official to support marriage equality. Three years later, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right. Along with the freedom to marry comes the freedom to build a family. Biden believes that LGBTQ+ people and same-sex couples should be able to build and protect their families. Yet many government-funded foster care and adoption agencies still discriminate against LGBTQ+ families or place additional burdens on these families during the foster care or adoption process. Similarly, these agencies often put LGBTQ+ youth in care at risk by failing to place them with safe and affirming families. In November 2019, the Trump-Pence Administration proposed a rule that will permit adoption and foster care agencies that discriminate against LGBTQ+ families to receive government funding. As President, Biden will repeal the rule, if implemented, and work to ensure that qualified families are not discriminated against based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, sex, marital status, disability, or religion and that child welfare agencies put the interests of children first, including those who are LGBTQ+. In addition, Biden will work with the U.S. Department of State and other federal agencies to ensure the equal treatment of same-sex couples and their children in the application of all federal programs, services, and benefits especially with respect to citizenship eligibility requirements and immigration and naturalization proceedings.
End the misuse of broad exemptions to discriminate. Religious freedom is a fundamental American value. But states have inappropriately used broad exemptions to allow businesses, medical providers, social service agencies, state and local government officials, and others to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people. The Trump-Pence Administration has deliberately and systematically attempted to gut protections for the LGBTQ+ community by carving out broad religious exemptions to existing nondiscrimination laws and policies across federal agencies. Biden will reverse Trump's policies misusing these broad exemptions and fight so that no one is turned away from a business or refused service by a government official just because of who they are or who they love.
Reinstate protections for LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness. The Obama-Biden Administration ensured federally funded homeless shelters provide housing according to an individual's gender identity and cannot refuse services based on gender identity or sexual orientation. The Trump-Pence Administration has since proposed allowing shelters to discriminate against transgender people when determining their accommodations, for example, by forcing transgender women to sleep and use the bathroom in the same place as men. As President, Biden will secure the passage of the Equality Act, ensuring that no President can ever again single-handedly roll back civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, including in housing and homeless shelters.
Support LGBTQ+ seniors. There are approximately 3 million LGBTQ+ individuals in the United States older than age 50, and this number is expected to more than double by 2030. These older adults often face discrimination in all aspects of their lives, from employment to housing to health care. The Obama-Biden Administration helped provide support and resources for older LGBTQ+ individuals through the Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders (SAGE) resource program. Biden will champion passage of the Ruthie and Connie LGBT Elder Americans Act to ensure non-discriminatory treatment of LGBTQ+ older Americans. He will also protect and strengthen Medicare, preserve and strengthen Social Security, and provide help for older LGBTQ+ workers who want to keep working.
Affirm one's gender marker and expand access to accurate identification documents. Transgender and non-binary people without identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity are often exposed to harassment and violence and denied employment, housing, critical public benefits, and even the right to vote. The Obama-Biden State Department led the way by updating its gender change policies for passports. As President, Biden will build on this action to ensure all transgender individuals have access to identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity. Biden believes every transgender or non-binary person should have the option of changing their gender marker to "M," "F," or "X" on government identifications, passports, and other documentation. He will support state and federal efforts to allow for this accurate representation.
Ensure blood donation procedures are based on science. Under the Obama-Biden Administration, the discriminatory lifetime ban on blood donation based on stigma was lifted. Biden will work with the Food and Drug Administration to ensure regulations are based on science, not fiction or stigma. As proposed by the Human Rights Campaign, Biden will invest in "new research to study risk behavio" and support " revising the donor questionnaires so that they focus on more refined and specific behavioral criteria, like recent sexual histories that include unprotected sex or significant numbers of sexual partners over the previous year."
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