In an effort to court LGBTQ+ voters and donors, Joe Biden has promised to make the passage of the Equality Act his number one legislative priority if he is elected president.
Speaking to hundreds of activists at a Human Rights Campaign fundraising dinner in Ohio on June 1, the first day of Pride month, Biden declared his support for the legislation that would extend existing civil rights protections to explicitly cover LGBTQ+ citizens on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
"It will be the first thing I ask to be done," said the Democratic hopeful, who announced his 2020 presidential campaign in April.
Beyond the Equality Act, which passed the House of Representatives in May, Biden also used his 30-minute keynote speech to touch on other pressing national LGBTQ+ issues like the “outrageous” levels of fatal violence against Black trans women. “The fastest way to end it is to end the Trump administration,” he incorrectly suggested, seemingly ignorant of how this violence began well before Trump ever set foot in the Oval Office. At least 17 trans women of color were killed in an act of hate violence in the year before the 45th POTUS’s inauguration, per the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs’ annual report from 2016.
The former Vice President also spoke out against the Trump administration’s trans military ban, the Department of Health and Human Services’ proposal to allow medical providers to deny treatment to trans patients, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s proposal to let homeless shelters refuse entry to trans people in need.
"It's wrong and it is immoral what they're doing,” he said. "Just like with racial justice and women's rights, we are seeing pushback against all the progress we've made toward equality.”