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JOE BIDEN FIGHTS FOR EQUALITY 

“Who do you love? Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love? And, that’s what people are finding out what all marriages at their root are about.”

 – Joe Biden, Meet the Press, May 6, 2012

Vice President Joe Biden believes that everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect and to live without fear, no matter who you are or who you love. Throughout his career in public service, Joe has championed equality, justice, and inclusion for LGBTQ people and built a record of unmatched concrete progressive action, including eight years standing shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama. 

In the coming weeks, Joe will release a plan that advances equality and acceptance of LGBTQ people in America and around the world. His plan will include his strongly-held commitments to: 

Pass and Sign the Equality Act into Law. Joe has named the Equality Act as his top legislative priority, stating that “it will be the first thing I ask to be done.” In the majority of states across the country, you can get married to the person you love on Saturday and then get fired for the same reason on Monday. It’s wrong, and Joe will make the case for and pass the Equality Act so that LGBTQ individuals receive protections under the Civil Rights Act.

Reverse the Transgender Military Ban. President Trump’s transgender military ban reverses the June 2016 Obama-Biden Administration policy explicitly allowing transgender people to serve openly in the military. On day one of his presidency, Joe will direct the Department of Defense to allow transgender service members to serve openly and free from discrimination. He knows that this is not just the right thing to do but it’s in our national interest. It’s simple: every American who is qualified to serve, should be able to—and we should all be grateful for their service and courage.

Support LGBTQ Students. As president, Joe will prohibit schools from discriminating against LGBTQ students. On his first day in office, he will reinstate the Obama-Biden Administration’s directive interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to include gender identity, and not just gender; restore trans students’ access to sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity; direct his Department of Education to investigate violations of transgender kids’ civil rights; and issue new guidance to schools on how to conduct Title IX sexual assault and harassment investigations. 

And, Joe’s plan for equality will build on his historic and long record of support for the LGBTQ community, which includes: 

Supporting the Freedom to Marry. On May 6, 2012, in a historic interview on Meet the Press, Joe became the highest-ranking American official to support marriage equality when he declared that love is love. Three years later in 2015, the Supreme Court agreed and ruled in the landmark case Obergefell v. Hodges that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right.

Achieving Historic Health Care Reform with Nondiscrimination Protections. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was and is a big deal. Because of Joe’s efforts achieving historic health care reform, 100 million people no longer have to worry about being denied coverage because they are LGBTQ or charged higher premiums because they have a pre-existing condition like HIV. As president, Joe’s health care plan will build on the ACA by giving all Americans more choice through a new public option, reducing health care costs, and making our health care system less complex to navigate. The proposed public option will also expand coverage to all low-income Americans, including LGBTQ Americans, even if they live in states that have refused to take up the ACA expansion of Medicaid. 

Passing The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. In 2009, Joe and President Obama championed and signed into law this historic legislation, which expanded the nation’s hate crimes law to include crimes based on one’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The victory came years after partisan gridlock and after more than a dozen related bills around hate crime prevention efforts that Joe championed over the years, including legislation in 1989 requiring the government to begin collecting data around hate crimes based on sexual orientation, and landmark legislation in 1994 allowing harsher penalties for crimes based on sexual orientation.

Repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In 2010, Joe steered the Obama-Biden Administration’s repeal of the discriminatory policy to allow gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of the armed services the opportunity to serve the country they love—and to do so openly.

Championing LGBTQ Protections in the 2013 Violence Against Women Act Re-Authorization. As the original author of the Violence Against Women Act, Joe helped champion the 2013 reauthorization of the law which, for the first time, dedicated protections for LGBTQ people, Native Americans, and immigrants.

Promoting Safe Schools and Preventing Bullying. In both his career and private life, Joe has championed equality and inclusion for LGBTQ youth. In 2010, Joe participated in the “It Gets Better” campaign to offer support for LGBTQ youth struggling with their identity. As a private citizen after the White House, Joe and Dr. Jill Biden founded the Biden Foundation which, in part, was dedicated to ensuring LGBTQ equality through campaigns such as “As You Are,” which promoted understanding and acceptance among youth and their families.

Defending Equal Benefits to Same-Sex Couples. In 1992, Joe voted against legislation prohibiting the District of Columbia from affording equal benefits, such as health or government benefits, to same-sex couples that were granted to legally married heterosexual couples. In 2004 and 2006, Joe voted against a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. In 2011, the Obama-Biden Department of Justice stopped defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. And, in 2014, after the Supreme Court’s historic decision in United States v. Windsor, the Administration took swift action to implement the Court’s ruling, which led to the largest conferral of rights and benefits to LGBTQ people in history. 

Advocating for Dignity in the Workplace. In 2001 and 2003, Joe was an original co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit bias and discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment.

Launching the First Comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy. In 2010, the Obama-Biden Administration launched the nation’s first comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy. The strategy was updated throughout the Administration and implemented “to address the disparities faced especially by gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities and transgender women of color.” 

Early Support for HIV/AIDS Resources. Joe has long fought for access to treatment for people with HIV/AIDS. Dating back to 1987, Joe voted to authorize critical funding for medication that prolonged life for people with AIDS. In 1990, Joe cosponsored the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, which created the largest government program focused specifically on providing life-saving treatment and care to low-income, poor, and uninsured people living with HIV. In 2008, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe sponsored the reauthorization of the Global AIDS program (PEPFAR), which significantly expanded the funding and targets for treatment, care, and prevention of HIV/AIDS and repealed a statutory ban on visas for people who were HIV-positive.

Advancing the Rights of LGBTQ People Around the World. Joe has taken a stand against the brutal and repressive measures that nations across the world—from Chechnya, to El Salvador, Malaysia to Uganda—have taken to oppress, target with violence, and even murder their LGBTQ citizens. As president, Joe will ensure that human rights, including LGBTQ rights, are at the center of our engagement with the world by using our foreign assistance to protect and advance human rights. He will also establish an office at the U.S. Department of State dedicated to promoting LGBTQ rights around the world.