Former Vice President Joe Biden told the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group Wednesday he will appoint “pro-equality judges” to the federal judiciary and will make it a “top priority” to pass the Equality Act if elected president.
Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, made the comments to Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David during a livestream the same day HRC officially endorsed him.
“I'm going to make passing [the Equality Act] a top priority my first 100 days, because it's about who we are,” Biden said.
Biden further said he will “reverse Trump’s actions” and will reinstate anti-discrimination measures he says President Trump has “shredded.” Among them, Biden pledged to let transgender service members serve opening in the military, prohibit discrimination against transgender people in federally funded homeless shelters, and “stop schools from discriminating against LGBTQ students.”
The Equality Act, he said, “makes clear that existing civil rights law banned discrimination based on gender [and] sexual orientation.”
The Equality Act would amend federal laws to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment and housing. Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president of U.S. legal division of Alliance Defending Freedom, said last year the act “would undermine women’s equality and force women and girls to share private, intimate spaces with men who identify as female” and deny “women fair competition in sports.” Further, she said, “it would force Americans to participate in events and speak messages that violate their core beliefs.”
Duke professor Doriane Coleman penned a Washington Post editorial last year with Martina Navratilova and Sanya Richards-Ross warning that the Equality Act, as written, “would do significant damage” to women’s sports by making “it unlawful to differentiate among girls and women in sports on the basis of sex for any purpose.”
Biden further said he will reverse “the damage Donald Trump has done to the federal bench.”
“We need justices who will support civil rights protections and defend people's rights to be themselves,” Biden said. “I'm going to appoint pro-equality judges who defend the rights and the rights that are in the Constitution – judges who commit to the rule of law, to civil rights, and civil liberties, [and] who come from a diverse set of backgrounds and actually look like America.”
David called Biden “an unwavering supporter of LGBTQ equality” and noted that Biden backed same-sex marriage legalization in 2012, long before the Supreme Court legalized it nationally. Biden’s public support preceded that of President Obama.
“That moment in 2012 marked a major turning point for LGBTQ rights, contributing to a sea change in public opinion,” David said.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Scott Olson/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.