Upon taking office in January, President-elect Joe Biden plans to hit the ground running in terms of granting freedoms and protections to LGBTQ individuals. He aims to lift the Trump administration’s ban on military service for transgender people, bar federal contractors from anti-LGBTQ job discrimination, create high-level LGBTQ-rights positions at the State Department and other federal agencies and nominate an LGBTQ person to a Cabinet position.
His top legislative priority for LGBT issues is the Equality Act, a bill passed by the House of Representatives last year that stalled in the Senate. The act would extent to all 50 states the federal anti-discrimination protections already granted to LGBT people in 21 states. The bill would cover a wide range of sectors from housing to public accommodations to public services. Biden intends on turning the act into a law within his first 100 days of taking office.
Regardless of whether the bill passes again in the House, which it is expected to do, gaining approval in the Senate will remain a challenge. Even if the Democrats with the two runoff races in Georgia, they would still need Republican support to gain a majority of votes that would turn the bill into law. Major critics of the bill include prominent religious conservatives who argue that it raises religious freedom concerns and could force faith-based organizations to have to operate against their beliefs.
Much of Biden’s work regarding LGBT rights will center around undoing the damage of Donald Trump’s administration. He plants to reverse Trump’s policies that issue religious exemptions allowing discrimination against LGBT people by social service agencies, health care providers, adoption and foster care agencies and other sectors.
He hopes to reinstate Obama administration guidance that required public schools to allow transgender students to access bathrooms, locker rooms and sports teams in accordance with their gender identity.
And he anticipates bolstering federal efforts to collect comprehensive data about LGBT people in the U.S. by including questions related to sexual orientation and gender identity to national surveys.
Biden’s goals to protect members of the LGBT community extend even beyond these objectives. He plans on making this issue a top priority during his four years in the White House.