The first presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Donald Trump broadcasted tonight, and if you were able to get through the president’s impulse to berate Biden like a playground bully, you may have noticed a few OK points — but none were centered around LGBTQ+ issues.
Fox News journalist Chris Wallace acted as moderator between the two candidates, which took place at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Viewers were deprived of hearing both candidates speak about Trump’s choice to bar transgender Americans from joining the military, their views on the Equality Act (which, if passed, would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity from the workplace and most walks of life), banning conversion therapy nationwide, discrimination around health care, ending violence against trans women of color, and more.
While Wallace was tasked to make sure both Biden and Trump abided by the guidelines of not interrupting each other while they were speaking, the current president couldn’t help himself.
When asked point blank for Trump to condemn white supremacy, the president found himself at a lost for words. At one point, he told the far-right self-described "Western chauvinist" organization, Proud Boys, to “stand back and standby."
The Anti-Defamation League considers Proud Boys a violent, nationalistic, Islamophobic, transphobic and misogynistic hate group. Prominent members marched have recently organized against Black Lives Matter protests.
Not long after Trump made the statement, the Proud Boys released a statement on their Telegram account: “Standing down and standing by sir,” it said, according to NBC News.
Donald Trump Jr. would later try to clarify with CBS anchor Gayle King that his father "misspoke" when he referred to Proud Boys.
Other recent news has raised the alarm on exactly where Trump's views on white supremacy lean.
Just last week, he announced his support for “patriotic education,” which would discourage teachers to teach students about systemic racism and the true history of American slavery.
He also shared on Twitter that he was expanding the ban on racial sensitivity training for federal contractors, which was also mentioned during the debate and highlighted by GLAAD on Twitter. During the exchange, Trump called racial sensitivity training "racist" and said that's why he had instituted a ban.
Wallace also asked Trump about his swift efforts to appoint Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, replacing icon and beloved LGBTQ+ ally Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat.
“We won the election. Elections have consequences. We have the Senate, we have the White House, and we have a phenomenal nominee respected by all — top, top academic, good in every way,” he said. “In fact, some of her biggest endorsers are very liberal people from Notre Dame and other places. So I think she’s going to be fantastic.”
Biden only added to that, saying, "I have nothing — I'm not opposed to the justice. She seems like a very fine person."
He continued, "The American people have a right to say who that nominee is and that say is when they vote for United State Senators and when they vote for the President of the United States. They’re not going to get that chance now because we’re in the middle of an election already. The election has already started. Tens of thousands of people have already voted and so the thing that should happen is we should wait. We should see what the outcome of this election is."
Overall, the general consensus from viewers on Twitter were that Trump succeeded in showcasing that he is totally unfit for office.
“Yet another night of LGBTQ issues left out of the conversation at the debate. Instead, more than 90 minutes of interruptions, lies, insults, personal attacks, " Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, said in a response to the debate. "Given a chance to condemn white supremacy, Pres. Trump refused. We’re left with one thing to know. Election Day is today — with early voting in 9 states, more than a million ballots already cast. The time is now. Vote. Check your registration or register today.”
Check out some of what some queer activists and leaders had to say: