Today's Edition News Sports Obits Digital FAQ Weather Events Contests Classifieds Autos jobs jobs Search
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this Oct. 8, 2019, file photo, protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington where the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the first case of LGBT rights since the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. As vice president in 2012, Joe Biden endeared himself to many LGBTQ Americans by endorsing same-sex marriage even before his boss, President Barack Obama. Now, as president-elect, Biden is making sweeping promises to LGBTQ activists, proposing to carry out virtually every major proposal on their wish lists. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

As vice president in 2012, Joe Biden endeared himself to many LGBTQ Americans by endorsing same-sex marriage even before his boss, President Barack Obama.

Now, as president-elect, Biden is making sweeping promises to LGBTQ activists, proposing to carry out virtually every major proposal on their wish lists. Among them: Lifting the Trump administration's near-total ban on military service for transgender people, barring federal contractors from anti-LGBTQ job discrimination, and creating high-level LGBTQ-rights positions at the State Department, the National Security Council and other federal agencies.

In many cases, the measures would reverse executive actions by President Donald Trump, whose administration took numerous steps to weaken protections for transgender people and create more leeway for discrimination against LGBTQ people, ostensibly based on religious grounds.

In a policy document, the Biden campaign said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence "have given hate against LGBTQ+ individuals safe harbor and rolled back critical protections."

Beyond executive actions he can take unilaterally, Biden said his top legislative priority for LGBTQ issues is the Equality Act, passed by the House of Representatives last year but stalled in the Senate. It would extend to all 50 states the comprehensive anti-bias protections already afforded to LGBTQ people in 21 mostly Democratic-governed states, covering such sectors as housing, public accommodations and public services.

Biden said he wants the act to become law within 100 days of taking office, but its future remains uncertain. Assuming the bill passes again in the House, it would need support from several Republicans in the Senate, even if the Democrats gain control by winning two runoff races in Georgia. For now, Susan Collins, of Maine, is the only GOP co-sponsor in the Senate.

Critics, including prominent religious conservatives, said the bill raises religious freedom concerns and could require some faith-based organizations to operate against their beliefs.

The Equality Act "is a dangerous game changer" in its potential federal threat to religious liberty, said the Rev. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican, tried to strike a compromise last year that would have expanded LGBTQ rights nationwide while allowing exemptions for religious groups to act on beliefs that could exclude LGBTQ people. His proposal won support from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Seventh-day Adventist Church but was panned by liberal and civil rights groups.

"Anti-equality forces are trying to use the framework of religious liberty to strip away individual rights," said Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ-rights organization.

Among the actions that Biden pledges to take unilaterally, scrapping Trump's transgender military ban would be among the most notable.

Related Article

Biden's win means some Guantanamo prisoners may be released

Read more

Jennifer Levi, a Massachusetts-based transgender-rights lawyer, said it's clear Biden has the authority to do so after taking office.

Nicolas Talbott, a transgender man whom Levi has represented in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the ban, called that "a huge relief."

"I look forward to being allowed to re-enroll in ROTC so I can continue to train, keep up my fitness to serve, and become the best Army officer I can possibly be," Talbott said via email.

COMMENTS - It looks like you're using Internet Explorer, which isn't compatible with our commenting system. You can join the discussion by using another browser, like Firefox or Google Chrome.
It looks like you're using Microsoft Edge. Our commenting system is more compatible with Firefox and Google Chrome.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT