Joe Biden has entered the race.
The former Vice President announced his presidential campaign on Thursday after months of speculation, Reuters reports, making him one of the most recognizable names in a crowded Democratic primary field.
“Everything that has made America America is at stake,” the 2020 hopeful says in a YouTube video released earlier today. “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and let that happen.”
Biden, who served as a U.S. Senator for the state of Delaware for 36 years before heading to the White House, enters the race as an “instant frontrunner,” as Reuters calls him. His name has topped nearly every Democratic primary poll published in recent months, occasionally coming in second to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. These polls might just be a measure of name recognition, though, and are not necessarily indicative of genuine grassroots support.
The former Vice President has been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ rights in recent years, coming out publicly in support of marriage equality in 2012, days before former President Barack Obama did. He has also been a vocal opponent of anti-trans discrimination, calling such bigotry “the civil rights issue of our time.”
His record before the White House is a different story. In 1996, Biden voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which federally defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman and gave states the right to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. He also authored the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which raised incarceration rates in the United States and increased the American prisoner population — a population that is disproportionately LGBTQ+. Beyond queer issues, Biden will likely face criticism for his handling of Anita Hill’s sexual harassment claims during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings, as well as for his early support of the Iraq War and recent allegations of inappropriate behavior with women.
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