Joe Biden reaffirmed his pledge to sign the Equality Act within his first 100 days as president, championing what would be a landmark civil rights law in the US.
The Democratic presidential candidate was refreshingly unambiguous in his support for the LGBT+ community as he laid out his agenda in an exclusive interview with the Philadelphia Gay News on Wednesday.
“I will make enactment of the Equality Act a top legislative priority during my first 100 days – a priority that Donald Trump opposes,” he said.
“This is essential to ensuring that no future president can ever again roll back civil rights and protections for LGBT+ individuals, including when it comes to housing.”
If passed, the Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system.
The Equality Act was passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives in 2019 but it was stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate, with the Trump administration labelling the legislation a “poison pill” that would supposedly “undermine parental and conscience rights”.
But Biden said it was “essential” to reducing economic barriers and ensuring consistent protection for the LGBT+ community.
“Too many states do not have laws that explicitly protect LGBTQ+ individuals from discrimination,” he continued. “It’s wrong to deny people access to services or housing because of who they are or who they love.”
Although Joe Biden has championed the Equality Act before, the fact that he has repeatedly stated it as a priority for his first days in office is significant and encouraging.
In the same interview he also promised to expand queer rights internationally by making equality a centrepiece of US diplomacy should he assume office in January.
Joe Biden: ‘I’ll stand up to bullies and once more put human rights at the centre of America’s engagement with the world.’
“It is our responsibility to advance human rights and development in our country and beyond our borders,” he said, citing his experience in advancing global LGBT+ rights as part of the Obama-Biden Administration.
“As president, I’ll restore America’s global leadership on LGBTQ+ issues and actively combat violence and discrimination that is far too rampant.
“I will build on the Obama-Biden successes and repair the damage wrought by the Trump-Pence administration’s treatment of LGBTQ+ Americans, which signals a tolerance for abuses by other countries, and its utter failure to defend American diplomats who speak out for LGBTQ+ rights abroad.”
Joe Biden also said he intends to lead a coalition of like-minded governments and organisations to push the decriminalisation of LGBT+ identities and respond swiftly to threats, using America’s “full range of diplomatic tools” to influence government policies.
“I’ll stand up to bullies and once more put human rights at the centre of America’s engagement with the world,” Biden promised.