Week 18: October 27, 2020
Election day is next week (Tuesday, November 3rd), and although the presidential debates have highlighted many of the differences between the two major candidate’s platforms, there are also many aspects of our country that will be affected in ways not thoroughly discussed. One of these that we would like to focus on today is LGBTQ+ rights. We hope to provide an overview of each candidate’s position so that you can form your own opinions.
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Trump impacted LGBTQ+ Americans through his policy within the Department of Education (DOE). Trump pushed to revoke Title IX, which guarantees transgender students protection against discrimination.
First Amendment Defense Act
The First Amendment Defense Act is centered around the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. It was originally proposed in 2015, and is still sitting in the Senate. The act claims that discrimination based on sexual orientation is protected by the first amendment right. If this act were to pass it would allow sexuality-based discrimination in homeless shelters, food banks, adoption agencies, and the state government. Trump has openly supported this act, urged the Senate to pass it, and stated that if the bill were to pass through, he would sign his approval.
The Trump administration cut $8.6 billion of funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which impacts LGBTQ+ people, as they are 2.5 times more likely to be homeless.
The Trump administration has also permitted discrimination in healthcare with the refusal of care rule. It allows medical professionals, based on their religious beliefs, to deny care and information to a person who is transgender and/or queer. In 2009, ACLU fought this rule and removed it, but in 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revived it.
Transgender military ban
Trump has prevented people who are transgender from serving in the military. Under Obama’s presidency, anyone in the military could serve as their preferred gender, and could continue taking hormones and undergo gender-affirming surgery. However, in 2019, a policy passed that required anyone currently serving to present as the gender assigned at birth, and transgender people cannot be enlisted.
Trump swore to “"to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology” in 2016. Despite enacting policies that undermined this, Trump promoted Richard Grenell to acting director of the Office of National Intelligence, making him the first openly gay person to hold a cabinet level position.
Biden has put forth a plan with specific action steps he would take to support the rights and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth, veterans, and families. It is important to note that although he had promised to implement the following measures, it is possible that not all of them will be put into action.
In this plan, Biden says he would direct the Department of Education to ensure access to facilities and activities in schools, regardless of gender identity. Moreover, Biden has proposed a series of measures regarding sexual violence with a focus on LGBTQ+ students. He plans to mandate that government funded schools prohibit harassment based upon sexual identity, gender identity or expression. He has said that he will expand mental health resources by doubling personnel in schools and enact proven suicide-prevention programs in order to help prevent youth suicide in the LGBTQ+ population.
As President, Biden said he would sign the Equality Law, which would extend the protections of existing civil rights legislation to include sexual orientation and gender identity, rendering many current and proposed discriminatory policies illegal.
In Biden’s housing plan, he has promised to reinstate Obama Administration guidelines which made sure federally funded homeless shelters provide housing in accordance with gender identity and regardless of sexual orientation.
Opposes Trans Military Ban
Biden has promised to overturn the transgender military ban if elected. He also promised to end the discriminatory discharging of HIV positive people and will direct the Secretary of Housing and Urban to ensure LGBTQ+ veterans are housed and have access to medical care tailored to their needs.
Biden’s stated support for the LGBTQ+ community has not always been a part of his policies, as his supported anti-gay legislation such as the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and and cutting funding to schools that taught acceptance of homosexuality in 1994. Biden’s track record in this arena is complicated and inconsistent, but he did significant work within Obama’s administration for the acceptance of LGBTQ+ rights within the Democratic party and his stated intentions going forward are clear.